Protest Friday 15 November, 4-7pm
Say NO to Chogm
British government supports war criminal regime in Sri Lanka
An important warning shot was fired on Wednesday 9 October. On the day the world heard about Canada’s boycott of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Sri Lanka, Tamil Solidarity called a successful protest at Downing Street. “Cameron, Cameron, don’t go to Sri Lanka,” was roared across the road to the home of the British Prime Minister David Cameron who plans to attend the meeting.
The Guardian reports Canadian PM Harper citing “reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings” to explain his historic withdrawal from Chogm. This continued horrific trampling of democratic rights, and the genocidal slaughter of up to 100,000 Tamils in 2009 means the Sri Lankan regime stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. After the war thousands of young people were rounded up into concentration-style camps with thousands still unaccounted for, four years later. No wonder a popular chant at today’s protest was: “Sri Lankan president, war criminal”.
The protest demanded that the British government follow Canada’s lead, but also warned this was unlikely. Showing the British government’s attitude to the warmonger regime Jon Snow recently reported that William Hague co-hosted a drinks party with the Sri Lankan government at the UN.
As well as chanting angry slogans, Tamil Solidarity invited speakers to address the crowd, providing an opportunity to discuss and debate strategy. Tamil Solidarity joint national secretary Keerthikan was the first speaker. He explained why Tamil Solidarity was protesting – in opposition to Chogm but also explained why we can have no illusions in governments to stand for the rights of oppressed people.
He was followed by Mayilon, a young worker on a zero-hour contract. He explained why Tamil Solidarity works with the trade unions – to fight the oppression and exploitation we face here as workers and to link our struggles into a powerful movement. He said: “We, in Tamil Solidarity are trying to gather people together and help to fight against all our problems. Until we raise our voices to help others, we will not get any help from others as well. If we are not giving support to others and expecting support from them it is not fair. So, come let’s join together and fight for each and everyone’s problems.”
Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Tamil Solidarity national chair, had been asked to read a statement from a young woman who is a Tamil Solidarity member. This moving report of a recent visit to Sri Lanka warned of the way, in a situation of fear and poverty, frustration was finding very negative outlets. She reported “increased domestic violence and sexual abuse” and concluded that “it’s very important for us to raise our voice on behalf of all those that have had their voice stolen”.
Ben Robinson brought support and solidarity from the Socialist Party in the fight for the right to self-determination of Tamil people. He pointed out that Cameron has his eye on business deals with the Sri Lankan regime. They work together so workers and oppressed people must work together. Neil Cafferky pledged that, if an appeal is made, the trade unions will respond with support.
Meena Kandasamy spoke powerfully about the protest hunger strike currently taking place in Tamil Nadu. She also invited people to learn about the history of struggle to inform the struggle of today and asked people to read the new Tamil Solidarity book, History of Resistance.
In this protest young people were to the fore, on the megaphone, giving speeches and in organising the action. This is significant as young people were often leading the 2009 protests and are now questioning how the rights of the Tamils can be won.
The conclusion of Tamil Solidarity is that the struggle must go on and spread out to involve workers and all oppressed people.
Everyone agreed to go to their colleges and universities, workplaces, communities, and trade union branches to build support for the next protest called for 15 November at Downing Street. Tamil Solidarity is calling on all Diaspora groups, trade unions, youth and student groups and individuals who oppose repression to join this protest which will coincide with the Chogm opening ceremony.
Find out more: www.tamilsolidarity.org or call joint national secretary Keerthikan on 0777 8327 044
For speakers for meetings, leaflets to distribute, or to discuss the campaign email Info@tamilsolidarity.org or contact Keerthikan