Tamil Solidarity’s protest against the Commonwealth meeting due to take place in November in Sri Lanka received a boost from the London region executive council of the RMT transport union. The executive council brings together representatives from all over London.
It took a unanimous decision at its meeting on 25 July to back Tamil Solidarity and to take up the protest, after hearing from Isai Priya, a member of the campaign’s national coordinating committee.
She expressed the outrage of the Tamil community at the decision to hold the meeting in Sri Lanka, as this will give a world stage to the authoritarian president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. His regime stands accused of the most vicious war crimes, including the massacres of many tens of thousands of Tamil-speaking people in the first half of 2009.
Isai also condemned the decision to send prime minister David Cameron and prince Charles to represent the British government and crown at the Commonwealth.
Several RMT members spoke in support of the campaign, including a representative of London Underground cleaners. She said that she would spread news of the CHOGM protest to members of the Nigerian community, who are also angered at the hypocrisy of Nigerian politicians attending CHOGM, given the human rights abuses in that country.
John Reid, RMT regional secretary, reinforced the message of the need to link up the Tamil community with the trade unions, and the importance of events such as the Solidarity Day in June. This brought together Tamil activists with trade unionists and community campaigns. John was one of the guest speakers at that event.
Tamil Solidarity has drawn up a protest letter – available on this website –http://www.tamilsolidarity.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/tu-res-chogm.pdf – for union branches, student and community groups to pass.