WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Consumers and human rights activists across the globe staged protests in front of clothing outlets on December 15, 2012 to warn holiday shoppers to "check the label" and boycott products made in Sri Lanka. Boycott Sri Lanka Campaign activists in U.S. cities handed out leaflets, held signs and talked to customers in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Washington, Raleigh, and San Francisco. They picketed outside GAP and Victoria's Secret stores advocating for human rights and educating consumers that money spent on Sri Lankan-made clothing helps fund the genocidal war on the Tamil people. Similar boycott protests occurred in Chennai, India and Toronto, Canada.
"It was a huge outpouring of support for the boycott campaign, and customers showed interest and concern over the increasingly terrible conditions for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. It is the indomitable spirit of this boycott Sri Lanka movement that will expose the apartheid Sri Lanka and get the Tamils justice!" said Dr. Ellyn Shander, MD, Campaign Chair for International Boycott of Sri Lanka.
In 2009 the Sri Lankan armed forces killed over 75,000 Tamil civilians with indiscriminate attacks and starvation, according to the recent internal UN review. After the war ended, the Sri Lankan Army held over 300,000 Tamil civilians in closed, military-controlled internment camps according to Amnesty International. Reports by The London Times said that thousands died from starvation and terrible conditions. While the UN's Panel of Experts called for an international investigation of war crimes during and after the war, the Sri Lankan government continues to deny independent investigators and have restricted access to journalists to the former war-torn areas. "Recently released UN documents indicate the death toll in Sri Lanka is the worst mass atrocity of the 21st century, surpassing the genocide of Srebrenica and Bosnia and present-day Syria combined," Dr. Shander emphasized.
"Sri Lanka is a highly militarized state that is sustained by the government's dependence on the garment industry, Sri Lanka's largest source of foreign exchange," stated Dr. Shander. Over 50% of Sri Lanka's exports reach the U.S., mainly as garments, while another 33% of the exports enter the European markets.
"While holding innocent Tamil civilians under military control, these soldiers and paramilitaries continue to harass with rape, illegal arrest, and extrajudicial killings. The government recently arrested and tortured Tamil students who demonstrated for the right to mourn their dead. The Sri Lankan government continues to station 16 of its 19 divisions occupying the traditional Tamil homeland in the North East of the island," said Dr. Shander.
With nearly half the clothing exports from Sri Lanka being sent to the U.S., the rally organizers have targeted GAP and Victoria's Secret stores as venues for their boycott campaign. Protesters held signs saying "Big GAP in Ethics, Boycott Blood Garments made in Sri Lanka." "Though these corporations market themselves as socially responsible brands, a large number of their clothing items originate in Sri Lanka, thus helping the government fund its military," added Dr. Shander.
Protestors at the rallies urged American corporations to begin moving their production of clothing to other countries that do not commit rights abuses. The European Union has already withdrawn their trade preference for Sri Lanka due to human rights violations. In order to call attention to Sri Lanka's brutal treatment of Tamils and prevent further violations, protestors asked consumers to check the labels and not purchase any products made in Sri Lanka.
Contact info: Dr. Shander, 203-561-0414