This is a open letter by Ellyn Shander, an American doctor and the activist of the United States Tamil Political Action Council (or USTPAC). It was first appeared on Facebook of “Global Movement to Support Tamil Refugees in Merak”.
I post this touching letter here which is sharply comparing the inhuman neglect by the humanitarian world on 246 Tamils in Merak Indonesia to what happened to those 936 Jewish boat people escaping the Nazis back in 70 years ago.
For the last 3 months, there are 246 Tamil asylum seekers with 30 children on board a boat in Merak Indonesia. They are presently being denied asylum in Australia, their original destination. Over 100 of the people on board already have refugee documentation from the UNHCR. 24 are in the final stages of refugee documentation, and the rest are waiting for the UNHCR process. They are suffering from ill health and are without access to medical supplies and the basic amenities. One man has already died form lack of adequate medical attention. We are imploring Australia to process their cases on Australian soil with medical treatment and supplies and adequate nutrition. Sending them back to Sri lanka, is condemning them to torture and death.
An open letter to the Tamil people stranded on the boat at Merak, Indonesia.:
We want you to know that you are not alone.. There are many people working to get you released to a safe country. There are many people working in different countries with their governments to get you free…. See more
Please do not give up hope and courage.. Your struggle is our struggle
Freedom is worth fighting for no matter where the battlefield is, and the battlefield is now on your boat. You are truly soldiers in our campaign of human rights. Although you feel like victims. You are truly on the front line. You are the symbol of the Tamil people’s struggle for freedom and justice.
The struggle for freedom in Sri Lanka is blocked by the government’s blackout on the horrible conditions for Tamils in Sri Lanka. But the spotlight on your situation brings the Tamil struggle to the forefront of the international community.
You must keep HOPE.. We will have Tamil Eelam! Your children and your children’s children will speak about your struggle in a liberated free Tamil Eelam
You are not the first to be in this horrible situation, where civilized governments have turned their backs on human suffering. Almost exactly 70 years ago a ship called the MS St Louis carrying 936 Jewish people escaping the Nazis went port to port and was denied access. This was a very dark and shameful part of American history. The United States, Cuba and Nova Scotia refused to admit these Jewish people escaping from the Nazis as you are escaping from the GOSL. But they never gave up hope. Although they were turned away and had to return to Europe. The UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands finally took them in. Every person safely got off the boat.
This is a dark and despicable time that history repeats itself. Now Australia and other civilized countries are repeating history and turning their backs on innocents running from evil.
Don’t give up hope.. Stay alive! Visualize the time when every one of you will step off that boat into freedom
As the Jews did not give up .. Hope was not lost
We must force the world consciousness to open and turn towards you. It is only then that the gates will open.
We must protest. We are calling for Tamils the world over to take to the streets peacefully!!. Go to the Australian embassies in your country. Tell them to lift this dark and despicable shadow off their conscious. Tell them NOT to condemn the Tamils on the boat to the Nazi government of Sri Lanka.. Tell Australia.. not to repeat the shame of America in 1939.
We want every one of you to be given political asylum in Australia or any country with a conscious.
The government of Australia needs to understand that we are all human.. There is no difference in our humanity despite the color of our skin or our sex or our religion.
As Mother Theresa said. “There will be no peace on earth until we remember that we belong to each other.”
You are our hope. We are your hope. Believe in freedom and it will happen
We promise to do everything possible to free you from this boat. Your bravery and dignity are a model …… for us all. We will work harder to free you.. We promise!
Dr Ellyn Shander MD
Vice President of USTPAC
Feb 1. 2010