Boycott Sri Lanka – a USA based Human Rights group composed of American citizens and international members concerned about the crisis in Sri Lanka was formed in 2009 after a group of American students who volunteered in Sri Lanka were exposed firsthand to the stories of sufferings there. Sri Lanka has experienced a brutal ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Tamil population. Over 125,000 lives have been lost in the conflict, the overwhelming majority of which is Tamil.
As part of the BoycottSrilanka committee’s initiative of hosting periodic “Boycott Sri Lanka Rally” in major international cities, Tamil Americans of Delaware Valley Region (Delaware, Pennsylvania and South Jersey) organized a rally in Philadelphia, on Saturday, March 20th, from 11AM – 3PM in front of Victoria’s Secret, 1721, Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Organizers expressed that the protest has raised awareness among large number of shoppers and residents from downtown Philadelphia. Being the first day of spring – adds extra thrills to the shoppers and Philly residents spend more time outdoor and had the opportunity to participate in the protest. Fliers explaining the grave humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka was circulated. Organizers mention that Shoppers and local residents showed great interest in understanding the situation in Sri Lanka and shared their empathy towards to the suffering Tamil civilians of Sri Lanka.
Several Americans of different ethnicity joined the “Independence Bell City” today to send a strong message to the oppressive Sri Lankan regime to adhere to world democratic norms and also respect press freedom.
Boycott Sri Lanka had also recently released their third part in its video series – “No Blood For Panties”. This video series is part of a boycott campaign facilitated by new media to educate consumers about the state-sponsored violence against Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. This series is unique in its use of sexuality to illustrate that consumerism supporting corrupt actions, such as the genocide of Tamils, is anything but sexy.
“Boycott Sri Lanka is very excited about its release of the video series” says group representative Anjali Manivannan. ‘This video series allows us to reach Americans who might otherwise be unaware of the repercussions of their consumer habits.
“Sri Lanka uses tax revenue from the textile industry to oppress Tamil civilians and detain them in IDP internment camps” explained Manivannan. ‘No Blood For Panties sends the powerful message that buying ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ items and supporting state-sponsored human rights violations is not sexy. It sends the message that being a conscious consumer is where true sexiness is.’
Boycott Sri Lanka representative Dr. Ellyn Shander says
“This episode is the perfect ending: Victoria finally realizes the impact of her consumerism on Sri Lankan Tamils and begins boycotting underwear manufactured there”
“We hope that our viewers are moved by this message: while our actions have repercussions, a simple change in habit can bring relief to Sri Lanka’s suffering Tamils. This series beautifully conveys that while many of us are initially Victorias–uninformed but potentially concerned–all of us can educate ourselves and transform into knowledgeable consumers like Victoria does in the videos.”
According to Michael O’Rourke, who directed the series:
“Boycott Sri Lanka’s ultimate goal is to inform consumers about the Sri Lankan governments’ habitual disenfranchisement of Tamils. No Blood For Panties achieves this goal through an engaging storyline and the dynamic character of Victoria. At first uninformed about Sri Lanka and uninterested in the human rights violations occurring on the island, Victoria learns more about the situation when she discovers how important the issue is to her boyfriend, Reggie”. The couple’s relationship is greatly strained when Reggie sees ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ on Victoria’s underwear. Victoria doesn’t understand why her underwear label is so important to Reggie and begins learning about Sri Lanka to save her relationship. The video series concludes when Victoria herself becomes a consumer of conscience. She informs other women about the consequences of their consumerism and encourages them to join her, check the label, and boycott cloths that are made in Sri Lanka.
Due to Sri Lankan government-imposed media restrictions, many Americans are unable to grasp the gravity of the Tamil people’s plight in Sri Lanka. The light-hearted video series and periodic protest have a serious purpose, the organizers noted.