UK activists discuss strategies of resistance against oppression
Tamil Guardian , 18 April 2012
Hyrbyair Marri, Baloch activist
Oier Imaz, Abertzale Left
Activists from the Kurdish, Baloch, Basque, Sindhi and Tamil communities in the UK came together at an event co-hosted by respective diaspora organisations and the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), to examine the detrimental effects of state repression and anti-terror legislation on their community, and discuss ways of resisting it.
Detailing the history and context of their respective national struggles, members of the organisations described the difficulties they face in the UK and abroad.
The seminar - ‘State Repression and the Struggle for Self-determination: Strategies for Resistance’ - was held at the University of London on 18th March. Organisers included: Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), the Kurdish Federation UK, Friends of the Basque Country (London), The Abertzale Left, Tamil Youth Organisation UK (TYO-UK), Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, World Sindhi Congress, Balochistan National Movement (Baloch Raaji Zrombesh), International Committee Against Disappearances (ICAD), Liberation & Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.
TAG (Tamils Against Genocide)
Jan Jananayagam of the Tamil rights group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), spoke outlined the genocidal policies implemented by the Sri Lankan state in order to destroy the Eelam Tamil identity, highlighting the collusion of mainstream media in keeping the genocide silent. Ms Jananayagam pointed out that the videos of war crimes broadcast by Channel 4 recently were in fact released by journalists on the ground much earlier, however these were ignored by the mainstream media and international community, who dismissed them as 'biased'.
TYO-UK (Tamil Youth Organisation UK)
A member of the Tamil Youth Organisation – UK (TYO-UK), Sivakami Rajamanoharan, said that the war on terror ideology shifted the focus away from genocide and oppression, and instead allowed 'terrorism' to be framed as the problem in Sri Lanka - a fact which was exploited by the Sri Lankan government which framed its attacks on the Tamil nation as part of the war on terror. Ms Rajamanoharan argued that the international community had effectively turned a blind eye as the terrible events of 2009 were unfolding, viewing it as a necessary evil rid Sri Lanka of the LTTE. However, she added, three years on from the end of the armed conflict, the Tamil nation stands vindicated in its opposition to the Sri Lankan state - reflected too in a shift in policy on Sri Lanka by the international community.
Hyrbyair Marri, Baloch community leader
Hyrbyair Marri from the Baloch community and a former government official in Pakistan spoke about his experience of trying to work within the system of the occupying forces of Pakistan and detailed how the system is designed to corrupt local officials and stifle any signs of dissent from the Baloch nation. Mr Marri argued the only humane way out of the cycle of violence that afflicts the region and surrounding countries, is to support the democratic right of the Baloch and the establishment of a free and democratic Balochistan. Asserting that the world should not shy away from the secular Baloch nation’s struggle for freedom, he explained that the Baloch nation was the only natural ally of the west in the war against religious extremism in the region.
Oier Imaz, Abertzale Left
A representative of the Abertzale Left, a Basque political group currently proscribed in Spain, Oier Imaz, detailed the background of the Basque struggle for independence. Mr Imaz said that whilst the struggle for political rights is dominated by the interests of major states, it is a game oppressed nations have to play if they want to give their people an opportunity of a different future, and stressed the importance of creating strategic capacities in the people in order to aid counter-power dynamics. Mr Imaz said the struggle has to be framed within the realist scenario and that "counter-power dynamics and power dynamics are not contradictory but complimentary".
Mehmet Aksoy, Kurdish Federation UK
Mehmet Aksoy, a Kurdish activist from London, detailed the rise of the PKK and the struggle for Kurdish independence from the Turkish state. Mr Aksoy highlighted the role of western countries in colluding with the Turkish state in the war against the PKK, pointing out that the PKK was not involved in violence for three years when it was placed on the EU terror list in 2002.