Solidarity Day 2017 – organised by Tamil Solidarity at the UNITE the Union headquarter in London on the 24th June. Wide ranging political discussions made the event very lively, energetic.
It was attended by activist and campaigners including many young Tamil youth. The day included four lively sessions that allowed participants to ask question, clarify and/or make a contribution.
The day began with a detailed discussion focused on the new pamphlet Tamil Solidarity produced about its prospective and strategy. It highlighted the need to unite Tamil-speaking struggle with our natural allies, other oppressed people, trade unionists, students, etc. Question was asked on how we could fight back against various oppressions such as oppression against women, caste based discrimination etc. The Pamphlet was well received and it was also emphasized that no other organisations within Tamil Community have produced such a detailed outline of its plan and strategy.
This was then followed by well-known writer Meena Kandasamy, reading an extract from her new book – “When I hit you Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife”. Based on her own horrific experience, the book goes into details of a young woman who faces brutal domestic violence. Fighting against the oppression against women is vital part of our campaign and it is connected to the demand of right to self-determination.
The most important session of the day was the trade union rally focussing on the discussion on how to fight to win our rights following the General Election results. Line up of speakers included – April Ashley, UNISON national executive council; Oktay Shabaz, International officer of NUT and a leading member of Day Mer, a Kurdish Turkish organisation; Rob Williams, vice-chair of the National Shop Stewards Network; Ian Holdson, Bakers Food and Allied Worker Union President and Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity Trade union organiser.
All the speakers mentioned that it is important for all of us to unite together to fight against the Conservative government that is carrying through austerities. All the speakers supported the bold policies of Jeremy Corbyn. They also emphasised on the importance of Tamil community to take an active role in the workers struggle in Britain. Tamil Solidarity joined others, to send its solidarity and condolences to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Innocent people have died in this tragedy that resulted from years of austerity and de-regulation. Solidarity Message was also sent to the Barts Trust UNITE branch workers – who are taking a strike action on the 4th July to get a living wage to the migrant workers.
Members and participants were also given opportunity to ask their question to the trade unionist who spoke. Union activists are asked for their confirmation that they will make sure that they will hold Labour Party to account and to carry through their policies.
The final session was on fighting for the rights of the refugees. Mathan Nathan from the Refugee Rights campaign introduced the discussion by pointed out the Refugees need to get organised and come together to fight for their rights. The main demands of the campaign includes allow the right to work for all refugees, for a £10 Now minimum wage and to stop all detention and deportation.
Shivani Jegarajah, a well-known barrister joined Mathan, refugee rights coordinator in the last session. Shivani Jegarajah answered many legal question which are most concern for refugees. She took time and answered all the questions in detail – clarifying some of the migration policies. She also highlighted that legal aid and its important saying that the cuts to legal aid is unacceptable.
The inspiring day was brought to an end with a Solidarity Day sum-up by Manny Thain. He thanked for the participation of everyone.
This year’s Solidarity Day was qualitatively different. It showed the strength of the campaign for the policies that it puts forward. There was no disagreement among those attended about linking the Tamil Struggle with all the struggle of all oppressed people, particularly with students and workers. Solidarity with our natural allies was the main message that was re-literate in all the sessions.