Over 15,000 Tamils and their supporters held an angry vigil opposite Downing Street on Saturday evening demanding ‘Stop the war. Don’t kill Tamil people – We want Tamil Eelam!’
They carried a banner saying ‘International Community Rewards Sri Lankan State Terror on Tamil Civilians & Children.’
They waved flags and carried placards saying ‘Stop the bombing of innocent Tamils’, ‘Impose arms embargo against Sri Lanka’, ‘Sri Lanka is a terrorist state’, ‘UN: all humans are born free – are Tamils exempt from this?’ ‘Stop genocide in Gaza and Sri Lanka’, ‘Sri Lankan Tamils want justice, not bombs’, ‘Tamil statehood is a fundamental right’.
News Line spoke to several of the protesters.
Arumgam Sanjeevan said: ‘Today we are here to urge the prime minister of the UK to put pressure on the Sri Lankan and Indian governments to sign a ceasefire agreement and thereby put an end to Sri Lanka’s genocide of Tamils.
‘At present, in a small district called Vanni there are about 300,000 displaced Tamil people who are continuously getting bombarded by the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force.
‘On top of that, they are using internationally banned cluster bombs on innocent Tamil civilians.
‘We are here in support of our brothers and sisters in our country.
‘We feel the only way to end the war is to give freedom to our people.
‘That can only be done when the international community recognises the sovereignty of Tamil Eelam.’
P. Surya added: ‘I’m here to support my people back home who are killed every single day indiscriminately by the government of Sri Lanka.
‘There is no free media access to the war-torn area.
‘Whoever speaks out against the government of Sri Lanka and in support of the Tamil minority are either killed or threatened by the state.
‘I’m here to let the British government and British people know that the Tamil minority are not terrorists.
‘For the last 60 years our leaders used democratic means, non-violent, but the Sri Lankan state government crushed them with force.
‘Only then the youngsters took up arms to defend themselves.
‘We ask the British government to restore Tamils’ right to self-rule like it was before the British came to Sri Lanka.’
J. Paykuman said: ‘The Sri Lanka government is killing Tamil people, who want Tamil Eelam.
‘We want the Sri Lankan government to stop killing people.
‘We’re here to ask the British government to make the Sri Lanka government stop the fighting.’
Mr T. Thayanathy added: ‘We want the Sri Lanka government to stop killing innocent Tamil people.
‘You can see the pictures. It’s a very bad situation.
‘Villages and towns are being destroyed.
‘There’s no water, no electricity and no proper food to eat.
‘More than 500,000 innocent people are being hurt.
‘The Sri Lanka government are using heavy arms and bombs on innocent people.
‘Plus, the British government is supporting President Rajapakse.
‘We want the British government to end its support for Colombo and support the innocent Tamil people.’
Wijaya Kumamaran told News Line: ‘They are bombarding everywhere north and east.
‘They are bombing more than 100 times a day.
‘At the moment, they are using these cluster bombs which are illegal and banned in many countries.
‘So far, the Western countries didn’t take any action about it.
‘Instead, they are helping the Sri Lankan government.
‘The Sri Lanka government banned all foreign media people.
‘They don’t allow the media people to enter the north and east.
‘Recently, they killed a journalist. They’ve killed about fifteen journalists so far.
‘Because of that, the world doesn’t understand what the Sri Lankan government is doing – genocide.
‘Colombo recently ordered the Red Cross, Oxfam etc. to move out from the north and east.
‘At the moment, there is no charity group in these areas to help the poor and suffering people.
‘Families have been split up over this.
‘I have not been able to visit my mother and my sisters for fifteen years.
‘Many thousands of people are in the same situation.
‘People feel very strongly, you can see them all here.’
K. Wijayakumar added: ‘The Sri Lanka military are bombing and shelling civilians, houses, temples, hospitals and churches.
‘Due to this war, people are moving to the forest and they go to their relatives’ houses, into schools and temples to seek refuge.
‘They have no medicines, no food.
‘They only have their clothes. They are a displaced people.
‘There is no help, no charities – they have all been banned by the government.
‘Only the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation is able to help.
‘We’re here because we need help from outside.
‘We need the British government to recognise our people’s rights and help us.
‘We need peace in our land. This has been going on for years.’
Mathy Arul told News Line: ‘We want freedom.’
She continued: ‘We are here today because people in Vanni and northern Sri Lanka are suffering.
‘There is no food, nothing for them. They are just standing on the roadside.
‘We want the British government and the world to recognise our fight. We need urgent help.’
Mr Boby said: ‘We don’t have fair education.
‘We don’t have fair education, fair university entrance, fair work opportunity or business opportunity.
‘And they want to kill the young Tamil generation.
‘South India is becoming divided. India is supporting the Sri Lanka government to destroy all Tamils.
‘India is frightened that south India may separate.
‘Also India wants Trincomalee harbour so they are supporting the Colombo government.
India doesn’t want any Western government coming to take the harbour.
‘We are here outside Downing Street because it was the British government in 1947 that made the problem and they have to stop the bombing.
‘They have the full duty to stop this war. If it is not stopped, Tamils will die in Sri Lanka.
‘The British government is selling arms to the Sri Lankan government. They have to stop.’
Former aid worker in Sri Lanka, Tim Martin said: ‘We’ve been removed by the Sri Lankan government to eliminate all witnesses to their ongoing genocidal war.
‘As no media are allowed into the region, the world is oblivious that the same thing is happening in Sri Lanka as is in Gaza.’
• See Photo gallery for more pictures