Over 2,000 Tamils demonstrated outside the Commonwealth Conference in central London on Tuesday against the attendance of Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapakse.
Their banners carried a clear message ‘Go Home Warmonger’, ‘Suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth’, and ‘Sri Lanka is a Terrorist State’.
The demonstration was organised by the Tamil community in Britain. protesters kept up chants of ‘We want freedom! We want Tamil Eelam! Stop the genocide’.
Demonstrators told News Line that Tuesday June 10th is coincidentally the anniversary a mass killing of Tamils in the 1980s.
Protesters were angry at the killings of civilians and journalists, as well as kidnappings and adbuctions by the Sri Lankan state forces.
They also accused the Sri Lanka government of blocking food aid sent for displaced and hungry Tamils.
They carried placards saying ‘Welfare not Warfare’, ‘Food not Bombs’, ‘Protect Press Freedom’, ‘Tamils Are Resisting Genocide’ and ‘60 Years of Oppression of Tamils by Sri Lanka’.
Other placards said ‘Boot Sri Lanka from Commonwealth’, ‘No to Concessions, to Terror, From Lanka, from our Tax Money’, ‘Mahinda Rajapakse – Sri Lanka’s Hitler’.
Lohendran Logi of British Tamils Forum told News Line: ‘We are protesting because the president of Sri Lanka has come to the Commonwealth Conference.
‘He is killing a lot of innocent people.
‘The Sri Lankan government is waging genocide against Tamils.
‘Sri Lankan forces are killing journalists as well.
‘We want to stop the killing, restore human rights and allow the Tamil people to live in peace.
‘I am very annoyed with the British government because it is doing nothing about the genocide in Sri Lanka.’
Pam Perin, formerly from Jaffna, said: ‘We are here today to demonstrate against the Sri Lanka president and government.
‘They are not treating the Tamils on an equal basis.
‘At the moment, the Tamils are oppressed – that is why we are here.
‘For its violations of human rights, Sri Lanka should be put out of the Commonwealth.
‘Killings, kidnappings and abductions are going on. It has to stop.’
Mrs Sothe, from London, said: ‘My people are in Colombo.
‘They live in fear, not knowing what is going to happen to them.
‘And the government is the root cause of everything that is taking place.
‘The Colombo government are trying to provoke the Sinhalese by causing incidents which they say are caused by the Tamil Tigers.
‘The government is desperate and are trying to set up riots in Colombo, like the 1983 riots.
‘What we want is a peaceful country in which we can live peacefully. We want peace.
‘The British government should be doing something about it but instead they are encouraging state terrorism.
‘We would like the British trade unions to help us.
‘We want to have some British fairness.’
N. Vijayaysingham, former attache to the EU embassy, New Delhi, said: ‘The Western governments who speak of human rights have kept their mouths closed as far as the Tamils are concerned.
‘The Tamils took up arms when all forms of non-violent protest were met with state military terrorism.
‘The Tamils are freedom fighters, they are not terrorists.’
Kananthan Kumar told News Line: ‘We are here because they are killing too many people in our homeland.
‘The Sri Lankan Army and armed forces, and gangsters they support, are killing innocent people – children, women, old men – everyone, no matter their age.
‘And they are bombing innocent people.
‘In northern Sri Lanka, there are 80,000 Tamil families homeless.
‘They are bombing our houses, schools and temples as well.
‘Every day, 20 and even 50 people are ambushed or bombed.
‘We want our freedom and peace.
‘We want to stop the killings.
‘Our problems started in 1952 and in 1958 the killing started – nearly 50 years ago.
‘We had a peace agreement for six years from 2002 but the Sri Lanka government broke off the agreement last year and began the war again.
‘They have no respect for the peace process.
‘The British government should stop their support for the Sri Lanka government and start talks again.
‘The British government left in 1947 but we are suffering.
‘The present government is the product of who Britain left to rule, and America also.’
R. Darshan added: ‘I’m here to represent the Tamil people against the war criminal Rajapakse who has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Sri Lanka.
‘He shouldn’t be allowed to come here. Britain should stop him coming here.
‘It should stop aid to the Sri Lanka government.
‘The British trade unions should support us.
‘They should take strike action to force the british government to break relations with Rajapakse.’
Sayan Krishnamoorthy added: ‘What the Sri lankan government is doing is stopping all the aid, medicine and food reaching the right people.
‘They block the roads as well.
‘We don’t want much. we just want the people to get food to eat, at least, to get shelter and to get medicine.
‘A lot of people are still displaced because of the government’s actions.
‘Also, the Sri Lanka military is killing people, students and especially journalists who speak up for us.
‘We can provide proof of at least six or nine journalists being murdered – shot in cold blood.
‘At one of the best known colleges in Jaffna, the Sri Lanka Army has a sentry at the entrance.
‘All the students have to pass by this sentry. The entrance is guarded by the Army.
‘The students have to study in fear.
‘We want an end to all this.
‘We want someone powerful enough to say something about it, so it can be heard outside.
‘The unfortunate ones are there, struggling every day.’