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Large Protests Erupt In Support Of Tamils

IMC Features | 09.04.2009 10:56 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | World

Spontaneous protests have erupted in London as a result of the ongoing state violence in Sri Lanka. On Monday, over 300 Tamil youths blockaded Westminster Bridge, which remained closed overnight. On Tuesday and Wednesday large numbers gathered outside parliament and had reached at its peak up to 3000 to call on Gordon Brown to 'open his eyes' and work towards securing an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Under the banner 'Stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka' over 150.000 people marched in Central London on Saturday 11th April. Further demonstrations happened in Oslo, Paris and Copenhagen. Reports: [1] [2] [photos 1] [photos 2] [video]

Earlier on in the week police tactics were violent, with unprovoked attacks on demonstrators. On Wednesday morning Tamil flags were being confiscated under the Terrorism act. Demonstrators reported that police used truncheons and dragged protesters across the ground. A three-year-old's leg was reportedly broken in the process. Seven people have been arrested, two under the terrorism act on suspicion of carrying articles supporting proscribed literature. Two people started a hunger strike earlier in the week, of which one was still fasting on Saturday 11th April.

More than 300,000 Tamils are currently under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Aerial bombardments and shelling of civilians are continuing. Children and elderly are dying as a direct result of the aerial bombardment. There has been increased violence in Sri Lanka following the capture of Tamil territory. It is estimated more than 70,000 people have already died in the conflict.

On the newswire: Fast unto last breathe (day 13) | Video of the Tamil protests | Massive Tamil Protest Against Sri Lankan Genocide | Tamil Hunger Strike, London - pictures (day 6) | Stop the Genocide in Sril Lanka Protest - London April 11 2009 | Tamil protest (day 6) | Tamil Demo in Central London | Emergency Protest In London 11th April Please Come | Supporting the Tamil protests, SOCPA arrest | parliment square still going strong (day 4) | Tamil Protest in Parliament Square: Students on Hunger Strike to the Death (day 4) | Tamil protest still going strong / 8th April 3pm (day 3) | Tamils protest against chemical attacks | Tamil protest amid more police violence (day 3) | A lively night in Parliament Square (day 2) | Tamil protest still going strong /continues (day 2) | Tamil Protest still going strong | Tamil Protest on Westminster Bridge (day 1) | Sri Lanka: Killings, Concentration Camps and International Silence | Students on Hunger Strike | Tamilgotcha! Westminster Bridge occupied for 3 hours - Sat 31st Jan

Around the world: Netherlands | South Africa | New Zealand | Scotland

Links: British Tamils Forum | Online appeal | Wikipedia on Tamil people

It has been a turbulent few days outside parliament with many hundreds of Tamils gathering and unwilling to move until their demands are heard. On Monday, about 300 Tamil's (many carrying Tamil flags) blockaded Westminster Bridge for many hours. The protest was loud but peaceful. TSG arrived and the protest was kettled in for a few hours in the early evening. About half of the demonstrators were youngsters on their school holidays. Although police have tried to clear the area outside parliament, Tamils have remained in place throughout Monday night, Tuesday, Tuesday night en Wednesday. On Wednesday evening the numbers had reportedly reached up to 3000. The protests were instigated by Tamil youth groups acting independently of the more established British Tamils Forum. The latter is organizing a demonstration at Embankment at 1pm on Saturday 11th April.

IMC Features


Few additions

09.04.2009 12:46

Two Tamil people are on hunger strike in Parliament Square 'until the last breath', with no food and no water since Tuesday.

The young Tamils are fed up with empty words by politicians and their fruitless talks with their elderly and community leaders, and want concrete action by the UK government and the international community to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government and end the genocide. The genocide is carried out under the guise of war on terrorism, to wipe out the Tamil Tiger, but up to 3000 civilians including many children have been butchered in the last 6 months and the situation is precipitating: the Sri Lankan armed forces are closing on the Vanni region, that has been sealed off so nobody can enter and no humanitarian aid is allowed. Several aid workers and journalists have been murdered.
Demands from the protesters include permanent ceasefire and access to the war zone by aid workers, journalists and human rights observers.

A boat carring humanitarian aid (sponsored by Tamil charities) is on its way:

Amnesty International on the humanitarian catastrophe:

I haven't been able to trace any mention of 1500 people dying in a gas attack, as heard from some Tamil activists. Can any one trace news about the gas attack on websites, news agencies and the likes? Just shows how very difficult is to report in such conditions... however the media black out (until the latest protests) has no excuse!

Rosalba Dean
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Petition update

09.04.2009 12:58

Please visit the petition page at

Note to IMC-UK:
Can you update the petition link from the feature itself to the above url?
It would make more sense as the downing street petition might be slow to bring a solution to the immediate issues. The DIY Mercy Ship has already understood to have pressured the government of Sri Lanka to allow 1000 mt tons of food delivered through the ICRC. The ship is now focussed taking the urgent medical supplies.

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One ends fast conditionally -- UK MPs make promises

11.04.2009 08:44

While Subramaniam Parameswaran will continue his hunger strike while Sivatharsan Sivakumar has called off his hunger strike at midnight. This was following a request by a member of parliament __on behalf of the UK government__ who visited the scene of fast [MP's name to be updated] to see that the fast was stopped by Sivatharsan so he could attend the session of the UN Human Rights Council.
It has also been announced that a three (03) member parliamentary group is to be appointed to take immediate action to solve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka ] __and it has been requested that the British Tamil Youth work with this group of MPs__

Following a request by the government the Tamil National hoisted on the parliament square have been lowered.
This is following all the necessary arrangements have been made to carry the flag at the huge march planned for today [Sat 11 Apr 1 pm Embankment to 4 pm Hyde Park; Organisers: BTF,] where a set of demands will be handed over to the UK government.

The health officials in the Vanni region under the heaviest military thrust at present reported yesterday that 69 percent of the children are malnourished. No baby milk available for a month or so -- if available very expensive.

Some background (to the connections with the UK and why this conflict is not simply '5000 miles away'):
Sri Lanka was Ceylon until 1972 as it was officially known until it was forcibly made a republic disenfranchising the Tamils further. UK still maintains a lot of connections with Sri Lanka stemming from the colonial days most notably the Ceylon Army did not severe the scholarships and contacts with the Royal Military Colleges. Some of the trained in the UK 'generals' conducted the most barbaric acts during the systematic Genocide of Tamils. The current president's son famously attended the Royal Naval college during the Blair years.
The established arms trade route through the UK the flourishes though the UK government is not known to have given any arms this year.
Blair met President Mahinda Rajapakse in his private residence in 2006 with a crucial witness(only to parts of the meeting as some parts were held in total secrecy) then foreign minister of Sri Lanka, who now lives in fear of his life as many of his colleagues and supporters have been assassinated or dissapeared. The current phse of hostilities accelerated soon after this meeting.
Gotabhaya Rajapakse, a US citizen, brother of Mahinda and the much feared [by foreign aid workers and media leave alone the locals] defence secretary used to traverse the UK a lot before he changed his arms dealer focus to China in recent years. Nevertheless british industry 'leaders' like Sir Stuart Rose, who was instrumental in breaking the economic pressure imposed by the EU in the form 'no more GSP+ concessions' visited the defence secretary as a matter of routine as he was running wild setting up 'sweat shops' under an environmentally friendly banner.
Sri Lanka, designated a child prostitution 'paradise' by UNICEF has become the cheap destination of choice for the non ethical end of the tourism market. notably Gary Glitter still maintains his property in Sri Lanka.
Then there is cricket. It still dominates the UK newswires more than the conflict.

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Parallel politics

13.04.2009 11:34

Last night / this morning (around 2 AM) Simon Hughes MP (Lib Dem) was on the megaphone near the hunger strike , while most of those who were 'going strong' in continuing the demonstrations in parliament square from Monday last week were unaware of his announcements!
While praising the protestors he offered that 50 people continue the protests, probably implying a bigger number was not allowed.
Following the fencing in of the common / green as the massive demonstration of
Sat 11 Apr was underway (when most on the square were attending the demo) the communications within the crowd gathered in the heavily restricted strips of space seems limited.

Sri Lankan government announced a 48 hr ceasefire yesterday.
UN secretary general was quick to praise it!

Meanwhile it is reported that there has been yet another (probably the second violation of its own announcement) attack into the civilian concentration this morning (GMT +5.30) where upto 40 deaths have been reported while scores more were reported injured.
As the district health official for the only functioning hospital has recently let the world know, even minor injuries result in death due to the lack medicine. Many of those who have been taken for medical treatment in Trincomalee in many of the 'mid sea transfer into the ICRC ship' drama have also died over the past few occasions.
It is also reported that many of the Tamils who come into government control are dissapearing with the men and women being separated. This is a new disturbing development distinct from the much reported 'concentration camps' that have bvecome operational to hold Tamil people for upto 3 years.

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Hide the following 12 comments

Good article, but please drop the sexist language

09.04.2009 12:32

Whilst it's really good to see this article, I find it very disturbing when our own media equates women with children and the elderly. Women are not passive vulnerable victims, and are more than capable of fighting back alongside men. It is no more tragic when a woman is killed, injured or attacked than when a man is - and it is about time this sexist language was dropped.


Sponsored by the UK

09.04.2009 15:30

This genocide was brought to you by UK arms dealers:


Re: sexist language

09.04.2009 15:50

Hi Emily,

You're very right. I put this article together last night and I apologise I hadn't noticed the error. The text partly came from a petition text which I just copied in. Again my apologies, I have now changed it.

imc person

Video Interview with Tamil protesters

09.04.2009 21:11

2 interviews about the first 24 hours of the demo.......

Interview 6.20am on the 8th April IMF loan to pay for arms to continue the genocide in Sri Lanka

Cinema Libre
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10.04.2009 00:58

This story is THREE days old!

I was passing and heard a tamil say to a copper who was there to "show some mercy" as there was a debate as to let a huge amount of food go into the protest on the bridge.
The copper went to check and said it was ok and I saw a huge shopping trolly of food go into the protest.

What made me choke was a Tamil asking for mercy after the same group (the flags were mainly tiger flags) this if we can remember was the same tamil tigers that 'recruited' the child soldiers on mass and commited acts of genocide against civilians of all ethnicities (do the research yourself,cant be bothered).

Oh and at the start of this demo there were only 10 cops for about 2000 protestors, most had fire extinguishers and fireblankets, it was only after the tamils charged over the road (pushing kiddies in front did the cops call in backup, who changed into fire retardent kit).

I was there and saw it, I came back after work to see what had happened and everything was calm but noisy. So what ever gets said on here at least the truth got ONE airing


Internet infrastructure and references

10.04.2009 10:30


In reply to the addition that there are no references to be found re: gas attack, pls see this link.

Further background on why there is such poor references on the news from Sri Lanka's hidden activities:

it must be noted that Richard Armitage of Project Phoenix infame
'[a b Mann, James 2004. Rise of the Vulcans Viking Press ISBN 0-670-03299-9. P. 42] '
has been on the case of manipulating, using and destroying the Tamil civilian (incl news) infrastructure until his 'demise' with the Palme affair.

Besides the well documented interest in Trincomalee bay (see references to the 'second pearl harbour' attack by the Japaneese and PNAC p14) Richard was activated following the commencement of War on Terror (pretentiously activated for South Asia with his call to Musharaff that Pakistan will be bombed into the stone age).
His most notable achievements that reverberates through Sri Lanka have been the influence on India culminating in the appointment of the current interim ambassodor with a questionable past, the Indian interim loan (together with China announced from the G20 Summit) on behalf of the IMF to the Sri Lankan coffers ($ 500 m) and the Indian involvement within the conflict zone (see the widely available news on the Indian field hospital in Pullmoddai) -- ie, get India to do actions that are against its then foreign policy and in line with the new concept of regional powers of a global order.

Richard's foothold on Sri Lanka was the signing on the Oslo Peace Agreement where he was one of the four witnesses.

It is noteworthy that the editor of Tamilnet [] Mr. Sivaram was assasinated in Colombo when he was homing in on the covert US invovlement, especially to do with Trincomalee. The CPJ did try to play this down.
Tamilnet eventually got banned in Sri Lanka years ago (it is also noteworthy that the Voice Of Tigers (VOT) was banned by the Sri Lankan government only years later on 26 Jan 2009 -- Sri Lankan Army started to jam even BBC news broadcasts prior to this incident!)
The vast majority of Sri Lanka was depending on the BBC Sinhala service and VOT Sinhala broadcasts for any opposite views to the propaganda given out by the government after taking total control of all media. THIS INCLUDES ALL REPORTING FROM ALL FOREIGN MEDIA REPRESENTED IN SRI LANKA ON THE TAMIL ISSUE.

It is hoped this will give some insight into why there are little references to 'sensitive' incidents like this. Use of chemical weapons on own population and the presentation by Colin Powell in the UN are not old news to the ongoing new world order attempts.

Richard Armitage

Hunger Strike and the UN trip with Des Browne

10.04.2009 23:40

As the hunger strike makes the biggest impact Simon Hughes MP has come forward to calm things down.
The hunger Strikers have consumed water.
Simon Hughes did attend the demo of January 31 [see video at] and did promise to take matters up but he is from the minor opposition, Liberal Democratic party.

Des Browne MP, former UK defence secretary who was earlier rejected by Sri Lanka after appointment by Gordon Brown as a special envoy already met with students to calm the tensions related to the Tamil flag two days ago is also understood to have offered taking one of the fasting youth to UN Human Rights Council
next Wednesday.

There are hunger stikes outside the UN in New York too

The demands of the London hunger Strike that began at 10 PM (22.00 h) British Summer Time (BST) on Day One of the autonomous protest action at Westminster, Monday 6 April 2009 were as follows

ri Lanka Crisis

action plan needed immediatly

1. immediate and permenent ceasfire

2. food and midical aids should be allowed to reach the civilians immediately with international monitoring committees and allow the mercy mission to vanni

3. UN secretary Ban Ki Moon and UK prime minsiter Gordon Brown, arrange to meet our representatives (... the 15 students)

4. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are our sole representatives and the UK government should lift the ban on them

5. UN should call for an immeidate referendum to the Tamil sregarding whether they want a seperate nation or to remain as Sri Lanka

Otherwise there will be a hunger strike till we breath our last breath

Also see press release of 9 Apr 2009 added to this article as a PDF file
[Hunger Strikers in London Refusing Food & Water for 72 hours - Kidneys about to fail] 280.5 kb

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Thoughts from afternoon at the demo (April 13th)

13.04.2009 21:34

Today I spent three hours at the ongoing demo at parliament square, from about three till six o clock.
The atmosphere was peaceful but vibrant, with constant chants of demands for freedom, liberation and an end to genocide, but also for this country to open its eyes and take action.

The protest is still almost entirely made up of Tamil citizens, with a handful of scattered people from elsewhere, mainly freelance photographers, and a couple of legal observers i spotted later on. I am surprised by the lack of a presence from either the stop the war movement, or the peace movement in general.

The police seem to be tactically reducing the size allowed for demonstration day by day, but the amount of people out on the street today clearly overstepped this small area. At around half four, a small group, seemingly organised, broke off to the other side of the road from the protest, and, over the course of an hour or so, the groups converged, taking seat on the road, and blocking traffic.

I find it hard to understand how reducing the space to protest, then complaining when protesters move out from a crowded space onto the street, is an effective police tactic. I do however applaud the organisation, the bravery and the commitment of the protesters, and also the direct action of blockading the street in order to be heard.

It was an honour to spend an afternoon with the protestors, I will try to visit every day and continue reporting

peace be with you all

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Hi, if I was in London I would go & point out buddhist links with Sri Lanka,

19.04.2009 11:31

this has played a part. As many Sri Lankans supporting government are Theraveda buhhdists,


London Protests- some thoughts

23.04.2009 18:59

It also strikes a struck a chord with me about the lack of Non-Tamil solidarity amongst stop the warpeace etc groups on the ongoing protest. On the 11 April 2009 a 100,000 Tamils protested in London and again very little solidarity.

Why could this be?
Some possible answers. Please add any other variations or comments.

1 There is a hierachy of suffreing
Arab, Jewish problem is at the top? Others further down bellow.

2 Alternative thinkers of this country are not really that alternative
They like to think of the world in its own image. They want the rest of the world also to to have the same priorities when it comes to world affairs.
When a legislation was passed a while back about restricitng the right to protest within the visinity of the parliment much was wrtten about it in the left and alternative media. The Tamils hava consistantly flouted this law for the past three weeks in London 24 hours a day and are excercing their right to protest. But the left or the alternative media generally doesnt seem to be interested. There was much hype about the recent film Hunger( Bobby Sandshunger strike) but as we speak there is a young man just outside the parliment sqaure
on his 16th day and not much has been written and brought to the attnetion.

It seems alternative positions need to be negotiated by already existing paradimes of Anarchisms, Stop the war coalitions, peace movements, dissent traditions etc to gain imporance and regognition. Other forms of dissnet( especially when excercised by minority communities in the UK) are not worthy of importance.

3 They sincerely dont know much about what is happening in Sri Lanka
Tnis maybe true.But dont forget that the Sri Lankan Governmemnt and military has greatly benefitted from
the rhetoric of the war on terror of the IC so that it can conduct its own War on Terror without punity,
Amass aid, IMF loans and arms deals without checks and balances. The global mediators whilst playing lip service to the humanitarian catastrophy are also eagerly anticipating to see if this is one place they can claim ideological victory of their own unsuccessful war on terror project. May they are looking for a sucees model
they can emulate in the reshaping of the war on terror.

I will like to thanks the tiny minority of brothers and sisters of this country and abroad who have turned up in
and show solidarity in the last few weeks. your efforts appreciated and hope we can all make a diffrence.

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3 They sincerely dont know much about Sri Lanka

05.05.2009 23:00

That sums me up, and I've tried to learn, so I think it is fair to say that sums up many British activists. Partly, that is the reason I'd feel more comfortable on a Gaza action, because I have a better understanding of the issues, the history. It's more than that though, I don't feel culpable for Sri Lanka. I've never met anyone from there. From what I have learned in the mainstream, it is the Chinese who are supplying arms to the SL army, not the British. From the testimony here though I think we should do all the normal things we do to stop a government brutally slaughtering a minority. That does start with public awareness so I hope you post much more here.


Child soldiers

13.05.2009 22:17

The Tamil Tigers are using little girls to fight on the front line giving them guns and forcing them to fight and these jerk offs are supporting them the government are not stopping and are killing all these child soldiers both sides disgust me I wish them all death.

Nathan James
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