Australian Tamils call off hunger strike

SYDNEY, April 18, 2009 (AFP) – Tamil protesters who staged a seven-day hunger strike outside the Australian prime minister’s home said Saturday they had ended their protest following assurances their demands had been heard.

“Australia continues to call on the Sri Lankan government to put forward credible political reforms to engage Tamils and other minorities without delay.”

The hunger strikers — two of whom had been hospitalised with dehydration prior to the rally — were calling on Australia to pressure Sri Lanka for an immediate and lasting ceasefire with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said Pari.

They also wanted food, medicine and aid to be allowed into the conflict zone, and for Tamil people to have freedom of movement, she added.

Similar protests have been held around the world, including a march involving some 100,000 demonstrators through central London last weekend.

Sri Lanka’s government says it is in the final stages of defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels, who launched a campaign in 1972 to create a separate Tamil homeland on the Indian Ocean island.

The UN fears that thousands of trapped civilians could be killed or wounded as the Sri Lankan military moves to crush t