Report by – Akila Kumar
The 2012 Tamil Solidarity Annual General Meeting took place on 16 December in London. It was a well-attended meeting which was attended by people from many different backgrounds, with different reasons for wanting to find out more about Tamil Solidarity. The meeting began with a financial report detailing the expenses the organisation had incurred over the year, and how the money had been allocated. Copies of the financial statement were circulated to everyone present, and there was a brief period in which people could raise any questions that they had.
The morning progressed with lead-offs from Siritunga and Jagadish on the work of Tamil Solidarity in Sri-Lanka and India respectively. Amongst other topics discussed in his speech, Siri highlighted the need for the struggle of the Tamil people to be founded on class basis. He argued that the oppression of the Tamil speaking people can only end if the Sinhalese working class unite with the Tamil working class with the common goal of achieving freedom for the Tamils through the liberation of the entire working class from oppression.
The following lead-off detailed the perspective of Tamil Solidarity for 2013. One of the topics covered was the attitude that the organisation should take towards lobbying big businesses, and suggestions were taken as to how Tamil Solidarity could build its movement further in 2013. There was a discussion of why Tamil Solidarity is such a vital campaign in the fight against the oppression of Tamils and what the organisation has achieved so far in the UK and in Sri Lanka.
There was also a discussion about the student work that has taken place so far in different universities across London, the key contacts that have been made throughout the year and the meetings that Tamil Solidarity has held at Queen Mary University. This discussion highlighted the different campaigns that Tamil Solidarity has been promoting at London universities, such as the campaign against the deportation of Tamil Solidarity activist Thas and the campaign to release the Jaffna students arrested during a peaceful public commemoration.
After this, there was a report given on the work of Tamil Solidarity in Malaysia, in which the connections between the struggle of the Tamils in Sri-Lanka and the ethnic struggles in other countries were highlighted. This report also discussed some of the other organisations who are involved in the fight for the liberation of the Tamil people, some of whom have done good work in order to help the Tamils. During this speech, concerns were raised about organisations who appear to be involved in helping the Tamil people, but who could be potentially harming the cause.
The final part of the meeting included a lead-off from a UNISON member, Helen. Tamil Solidarity has been working with different unions in order to raise the profile of their campaigns and get motions passed at branch meetings. Helen described the work she had been doing to campaign against cuts in the NHS and the difficulties she had faced. She mentioned her belief in the need to keep up the fight in spite of the threat to her job. There was also a report from the Youth fight for Jobs campaign, followed by a discussion and an invitation for questions.
Finally new and larger coordinating committee was elected. Overall, the AGM was very successful. Many valuable suggestions were taken from the audience who contributed well to the discussions, and we are certain that much has been gained from this event which will strengthen the Tamil Solidarity campaign in 2013.