Ilankai Tamil Sangam

23rd Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Speech Given at July 23, 2007 Tamil American Rally in Washington, DC

I have a dream that every Tamil can look up at the sky and check the weather without checking to see if their government is raining bombs on them today.

I have a dream that every pregnant Tamil will have access to a hospital and only be concerned if she is having a boy or girl and NOT whether a SL Army shell will take her life and her newborns.

I have a dream that every Tamil child can laugh and go to school in freedom and not worry that her family will be dead when she returns home to the refugee camp.

First I want to say how honored I am to speak at this rally. I want to express my appreciation to the organizers who had the vision to invite us together for this important cause.

And a heartfelt thank you to each of you who took the time to travel from your homes and express your solidarity, here in Washington DC, with the Tamils in Sri Lanka, who don't have the opportunity to be here today expressing their anguish and despair.

I am an American physician who went to Sri Lanka and volunteered my services in the North, 6 weeks after the tsunami. I returned 6 months later for a follow-up visit.

All of us remember the devastation of the tsunami, villages flattened, whole families swallowed up, lives shattered. For a brief moment in time, Sri Lanka was illuminated. I traveled the road from Killonochi , thru the elephant Pass up thru the fishing villages that dot the shore. I met the most beautiful people. And an extraordinary thing happened to me. I fell in Love. I fell in Love with the people, their courage, their strength and their willingness to invite me into their homes and share their grief. I helped the families make sense of the incomprehensible; I treated the children, and met teachers, fishermen, moms, dads, people just like us, trying to hold their families together in extraordinary circumstances.

Tamil-American Rally in Washington DC July 23 2007 TamilNet

Photo courtesy TamilNet

I took their pictures home with me, and left a piece of my heart there, in a small fishing village on the North east coast .

When the civil war broke out again, I was sad,

When the government closed the A-9 I was devastated! I have no words for the madness that stalks the northeast today.

You see, for me this crisis IS personal. The Tamils who are being bombed, killed, abducted, tortured, starved and denied medical care are family to me. Their pictures are in my home, and I will NOT stop fighting for peace and justice for them.

Today NGO's are denied access to the North East by a stalled government process. The government refuses to open the A-9, the highway that supplies food and medicine to the North. More than 500,000 civilians are being held hostage there. Shelling by government troops continues to rain on civilian areas. If the hospitals are closed and have limited medicines and few doctors, how does a maimed or burned child get help??

What is this madness?

Tamils are being forced to return to areas that have NOT had low mine clearance. They are forced from one camp to the next as the fighting spreads, they have no income and have to depend on food handouts from aid agencies.

What is this madness?

international agencies are reporting rampant malnutrition in the northern Jaffna district.

Fisherman are denied access to the sea. In Vavunia last week 4 Tamils were shot. One of them a 14 year old boy. How can this be happening??

What is this madness?

On July 14 and 15th the SL Army launched heavy sustained rocket fire on the Puliyankulam hospital in Vavuniya district. 2 shells exploded right inside the hospital. The hospital used to serve the needs of 15,000 inhabitants.

What is this madness?

What government kills its own civilians?

The govt of Darfur, the former govt of Saddam Hussein, and the govt of Sri Lanka.

What is this madness??

The war is reported as a fact sheet of military conquests.. Very little is said about the real victims of this war. The Tamil people who are dying in the thousands.

What is this madness?

Children cannot go to school, medical students in Jaffna - the future pride of the Tamil people - cannot finish their studies, and the youth are being kidnapped and torn from their families

What is this madness?

You know -

The opposite of this madness is a dream that I have.

Martin Luthur King, a great American, stood close to here and shared his dream.

America is a place of dreams.

Today I want to share mine with you!!

I have a dream that every Tamil can feel the breeze on their cheeks without worrying about being killed.

I have a dream that every Tamil can look up at the sky and check the weather without checking to see if their government is raining bombs on them today.

I have a dream that every pregnant Tamil will have access to a hospital and only be concerned if she is having a boy or girl and NOT whether a SL Army shell will take her life and her newborns.

I have a dream that every Tamil child can laugh and go to school in freedom and not worry that her family will be dead when she returns home to the refugee camp.

I have a dream that the fishermen I met can go out on their boats again and bring home their catches, and not worry about being tortured and kidnapped.

I have a dream that no Tamil person will ever have to be on rations, or be without doctors or medicines.

I have a dream of Tamil weddings, birthdays, and festivities in a peaceful self-governed state called Tamil Elam.

Land does not belong to people!!

It is people that belong to land.

The Tamils belong to their land.

Please let us work toward stopping this madness.

Let us work towards peace talks.

Let us work towards Justice and Freedom for every human being in Sri Lanka .

Denying the right to self-determination is a violation of human rights!

Today I ask the Sri Lankan govt a question

If you don't want to treat the Tamils equally, fairly, or humanely

Then what is wrong with a 2 state solution?

TWO STATES IN PEACE IS BETTER THAN ONE STATE IN WAR!!

Stop the persecution of the Tamils!!!

Let us call today for an independent state for the Tamils before it is too late and there are no more Tamils left in Sri Lanka.

Please, peace for Tamil Eelam!!!!!

STOP THE MADNESS!

THANK YOU