Well over 100,000 Tamils and their supporters marched through central London on Saturday to protest at the Sri Lankan government’s continuing attacks on Tamil areas.
The numbers on the overwhelmingly Tamil demonstration show the depth of feeling on the issue, as there are only estimated to be 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in Britain.
The Sri Lankan government is unleashing its military might against the Tamils. It has launched a major offensive in an attempt to finally defeat the rebel Tamil Tigers. It has displaced over 300,000 people and thousands have been killed.
Thaya Idaikkadar, a Tamil Labour councillor in northwest London, spoke to Socialist Worker about why the protest had been organised. He said, “We want politicians and the media to notice and wake up. Many people came out to protest over Gaza. Don’t forget people being killed in Sri Lanka.
“We are calling for a permanent ceasefire and a negotiated settlement for all people in Sri Lanka.
“Tamils in Sri Lanka are living without food and water. They have been forced into government ‘safety zones’. But they are not safe. People are still dying in them.
“People here are very emotional. Nearly everyone has lost a relative or has family they are unable to contact.”
Gobika, one of many students on the march, spoke to Socialist Worker. She said, “Most of us students were born and raised here. But all Tamils want to raise awareness of the situation in Sri Lanka.
“I believe we are all brothers and sisters in the world. When I heard about the earthquake in Italy I cared about the people there and wanted to help. We want people here to know what is happening to our people too.
“We don’t hate Sinhalese people. We’re here for peace in the world.”
Janahan, who works in south London, said, “The killing just keeps going on. Sri Lanka was a British colony. Britain made the decisions that started this. They must help to end it.”
The protest follows five days of protests by Tamils in Parliament Square. The British Tamils Forum called the demonstration, which marched from Embankment through central London to a rally in Hyde Park.