Solidarity Day 2018, an annual event organised by Tamil Solidarity took place on the 16th June in Central London.
The success of the event has shown once again the growing support of the Tamil Solidarity (TS) campaign for the unique approach it has taken amongst the Tamil diaspora organisations. The intense, lively and thought-provoking event lay down a strong foundation to build a movement for the rights of the Tamil-speaking people.
It began with a debate with the other Tamil Diaspora organisation on ‘What way forward?’ This session was chaired by Nadesan Balenthran, Join National Coordinator for TS and had speakers from Tamil Solidarity, TCC and TGTE, though both spoke on personal capacity. TU Senan introduced the discussion outlining some key points relating to political strategy of TS. Since 2009 TS has argued the need to link the Tamil struggle with our natural allies – other oppressed community, youth and the working class. TS has also in a number of occasion outlined the failure of the UN as a means of delivering justice as it’s an institution that operates in the interest of big business and oppressive nations. This was then followed by Sathya Rajan who reported on the recent struggles and movements that have taken place in Tamil Nadu and the importance of linking up that struggle with our struggle. She highlighted that those involved or leading these movements are looking for a political lead. She was then followed by Satha Kanasan from TCC and Manivannan from TGTE. The political differences between TS and the other Tamil organisations were sharply revealed during the debate that followed. There were also time for some questions and contribution from the floor.
Lawanya Chantra, TS NCC and Refugee Rights committee member chaired the second part of the event. This session brought out the essence of the TS campaign. The line-up of speakers included leading trade unionist from UNISON, largest public sector union with 1.3 million workers and PCS, the largest civil service union. Both of these unions are affiliated to Tamil Solidarity.
Hugo Pierre UNISON National Executive Council started the rally by giving official greeting from UNISON and outlined the ways that UNISON will work together with TS. This was followed by, Austin Harney National Executive Committee and International Committee of PCS who spoke positively on international solidarity. He is also the delegate that moved the TS motion at the PCS conference. Chris Baugh, Assistant General Secretary of the PCS has sent his greeting and solidarity – which was read out by Lawanya.
The rally also had speakers from leading activists in different campaigns. This included Claire Laker-Mansfield a socialist and involved in youth fight for jobs. She referenced to the Donald Trump visit on the 13th July and appealed to all to come to the mass walkouts and protests against Trump. She was followed by Mathan Nathan, TS NCC and Refugee Rights committee member, who passionately spoke about the plight of the refugees and the asylum seekers in Britain. He mentioned the Windrush scandal and how that exposed the racist immigration policies of the current right wing governments. He concluded by emphasising on the need to build a united struggle to fight for jobs, homes and services for everyone.
Phil Miller was next – a journalist, researcher and a film producer who’s stories have been published in the Guardian, Open Democracy, Private Eye, and many more. He recently wrote an article on the Guardian on the important files destroyed by the Home Office. He is also the writer of the report into “Britain’s dirty war against the Tamil people”. Phil exposed the role that the British government involvement into the crushing the 1971 JVP uprising in Ceylon.
Manny Thain, TS NCC and campaign organiser, concluded the rally and outlined the work of TS and shown how TS successfully building the struggle. Tamil Solidarity is a unique campaign in its policies and approach. We do not shy away from public debates and organise numerous discussion to politically arm our members. TS is affiliated to leading Trade Unions in Britain and we proudly orientate towards the working class in Britain. TS is a small but growing campaign that punches above its weight and links up the struggles against oppression at each opportunity. Solidarity Day is and will continue to be an important event in TS calendar.