Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Long Walk

Six souls for one goal

We understand the enormity of the task before us.  A unified voice is needed to make the walkers' journey successful and to help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.  Ilankai Tamil Sangam, the Association of Tamils in the USA, is supporting this inspirational effort by these dedicated young students. We hope that you will also.

"The Long Walk - Six Soul for One Goal"
Six youth from various universities in Canada have started walking from the American consulate in Toronto to Oprah Winfrey's studio in Chicago hoping to bring attention to the problems of the Tamils. 

The Long Walk Toronto Chicago Oprah Give Us a VoiceThey embarked on this campaign out of utter urgency. After over 25 years, Asia’s longest-running civil war has reached a crucial point in Sri Lanka. The civil war has already cost the lives of over 70,000 people. However, in the last couple of months, the UN estimates that over 1200 civilians, mostly Tamil, are being killed every month. Currently, hundreds of thousands of civilians, again mostly Tamil, are internally displaced without proper food, medicine or aid.

In December, the Genocide Prevention Project labeled Sri Lanka as a country on red alert for possible or ongoing genocide, yet the Sri Lankan government has banned independent witnesses to the war by barring NGOs and media access to the conflict areas. The only information available to the public about the conflict is filtered through the government.

The Long Walk route March April May 2009 Journalists critical of the government’s handling of the war have been assaulted and murdered. On many occasions, these journalists have been labeled traitors and/or terrorists, while the government has vehemently denied any responsibility. The Committee to Protect Journalists, who presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 24th of this year, "counts 10 journalists killed by premeditated murder since 1999, with no prosecutions or convictions."

Consequently, Sri Lanka, purposely or unwittingly, has created an atmosphere of impunity for these perpetrators. Reporters Without Borders has ranked Sri Lanka 165 of 173 in its 2008 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest ranking of any democratic country in the world. Freedom of press and free speech are fundamental prerequisites that are the heart of democracy. Sri Lanka needs someone to restore its heart. The Sri Lankan government, through their repeated actions, has shown that they have no will or desire to do so.

We believe that Ms. Oprah Winfrey is a beacon of hope and a courageous figure who champions the greatest and most basic of human virtues. Her iconic history of helping those in need to find solutions and progress through their own issues and dilemmas - by simply giving a voice - is admirable, and highly inspirational.

We understand the enormity of the task before us.  A unified voice is needed to make the walkers' journey successful and to help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.  Ilankai Tamil Sangam, the Association of Tamils in the USA, is supporting this inspirational effort by these dedicated young students.

We ask for your support in making this endeavor a success by providing a voice to the voiceless.  Please send your e-mails to the Oprah Winfrey Show encouraging them to give an audience to this enormous effort. 

In addition, the Sangam is setting up a fund to help these students, who have sacrificed time and comfort for this worthy cause.

Donations can be made through PayPal and are fast, easy, and secure:

Anyone who can accompany these youth during their walk in the United States or provide hospitality or other support, please come forward.

This is a direct link to the Oprah Winfrey Show's show suggestions plug form:  https://www.oprah.com/ord/plugform.jsp?plugId=216

To follow the walk, please go to www.oprahgiveusavoice.com