CRICKET’S biggest day of the year could be marred by protests as refugee advocates make a stand at the MCG. Security and police numbers could be bulked up to contend with hundreds of protesters at the Boxing Day Test between Australia and Sri Lanka. The threat is being taken seriously by organisers, who have urged activists to rethink their strategy. But support for the rally was building via social media yesterday. A similar campaign was held at Bellerive Oval in Hobart. The Tamil Refugee Council and Australia’s Refugee Advocacy Network will call on Cricket Australia and fans to turn their back on the Sri Lankan squad. They claim the team is too closely aligned with a “regime” that has used the squad to build a better international image. “The Sri Lankan Government has blood on its hands,” Refugee Action Collective spokeswoman Sue Bolton said. “We don’t want Australia to play with a team so closely connected to a Government which has carried out the most horrific war crimes, and the persecution continues.” Sri Lanka has been plagued by civil unrest for decades, and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser and former England cricket captain Mike Atherton are among high-profile identities who have raised concerns over human rights issues. Protest organisers say the Boxing Day Test is an ideal platform to prompt political awareness and change. Police have warned the protest will be monitored closely. “We are in liaison with those involved and will continue to work toward an outcome of least disruption,” spokeswoman Kate Fawcett said. Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said: “We have always believed that cricket can be influential in bringing people together, not tearing them apart. Melbourne does have a significant expatriate Sri Lankan community of supporters and, notwithstanding protests, we are expecting a big, cheerful crowd.” Speakers are expected to rally about 1000protesters outside the MCG from 9am. “We want to send a message that will shift opinion,” Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said. “Our hope is Cricket Australia will boycott any future matches against Sri Lanka for good.” (News)]]>


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here