Tamils protest outside Australian PM's house

Tamil protests Australia

Hundreds of Tamils on Monday staged a protest rally outside Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Sydney house demanding the Australian government to use its influence for a permanent ceasefire between Sri Lankan army and LTTE.

The protest began in Sydney's west on Saturday but moved to the prime minister's official Sydney residence amid reports that the Sri Lankan government had broken into the "no-fire zone" in the island nation.

While the protesters remained calm outside the Rudd's house on Monday, the scene turned noisy with a group chanting slogans like "Australia, save the Tamils", "We want ceasefire" and "Stop genocide".

Men, women and young children waved red Tamil flags and banners saying "Impose sanction on Sri Lanka".

The protest remained peaceful with police monitoring the protesters and blocking many surrounding streets, media reports said. Many protesters had been lying on mats and pillows on the road since early morning. Few of the protesters are also on hunger strike.

One of the protesters Geetha Mano was quoted as saying by that the rally will continue till some response from Prime Minister Rudd or Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith was received.

Mano said the protesters were calling for the ceasefire, for food and medicine to be sent to the Tamil civilians and for Tamil people to have the right to live where they choose.

"We ask the international community and the Australian government to urge, to push the Sri Lankan government to call for a ceasefire and to meet these demands so that these people get the right to live freely and with freedom of choice," she said.

Rudd office, however, said it would not be commenting on the protest.

Sri Lanka on Sunday ordered its troops to halt their offensive against the LTTE for two days in view of the Tamil and Sinhala New Year to allow trapped civilians to escape the war zone.

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