The Daily Mail headline read: “Hunger Striker’s 7 million Big Mac”. This outrageous attack, printed on 9 October 2009, accused Subramanyam Parameswaran of eating a Big Mac while ‘pretending’ to be on hunger strike. A Court found the Mail’s allegations to be completely false.
The paper claimed that policing the protests against the brutal slaughter of Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government, which the hunger strike was part of, produced a £7 million bill for the Metropolitan Police.
We in Tamil Solidarity immediately opposed this libellous and racist attack against the hunger striker and the demonstrators. In order to highlight this slander Parameswaran was invited to address a Tamil Solidarity meeting held in Queen Mary University on 17 October 2009.
He explained how he was on the receiving end of a racist smear campaign by the Daily Mail, which was also picked up by the London Evening Standard and the Sun. A video of the meeting was made available on the Tamil Solidarity website to help him circulate his answer to his attackers.
Unfortunately and unforgivably the leaders of some Tamil organisations joined the racist Mail in spreading its slanderous rumour. Their rotten politics also include support for the right-wing British government. In fact some still support the UK government’s cooperation with the Rajapakse government in Sri Lanka!
Some of the mainstream Tamil media and organisations were unable to see through the lies as they also wanted to sideline this dedicated activist in order to continue their politics of pandering to the right wing government and the media in the hope of getting them to report or act against the Sri Lankan government.
This flawed perspective is constantly challenged by Tamil Solidarity which instead aimed to organise uncompromising fighters against all kind of oppression in every country where they are present.
We repeatedly pointed out that we cannot appeal to those forces who are in the business of oppressing and exploiting minorities in the UK and who are engaged in brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now the Mail has accepted that it systematically lied. It is clear that the Mail’s attack was not just aimed at Parameswaran, but was an attack on all Tamil protesters.
Instead of allowing protesters to be attacked, if we are serious about building the fightback against the oppressors, we must unite those forces that are fighting against oppression. Tamil Solidarity was set up to do just this.