100,000+ in London march against Tamil genocide
(RAW STORY) Some 100,000 demonstrators marched through central London Saturday to demand a truce in Sri Lanka, as similar protests were held in Scandinavia and Paris against Colombo’s offensive on Tamil rebels.
Waving flags and placards and chanting for a truce, they streamed through the city’s main Trafalgar Square en route for Hyde Park, led by a large banner reading “Britain act now! Immediate and permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police told AFP that an estimated 100,000 people were on the march, while three arrests had been made for public order offences.
The Tamil community in Britain numbers about 250,000 to 300,000 and had staged several large protests in London in recent weeks.
Up to 3,000 Tamils marched in central Paris, organisers said, while police put the number at around 1,700. Four Tamils at the site have been on a hunger strike for five days to press for a truce in Sri Lanka.
“No genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka,” “Sri Lanka is a terrorist state,” and “President (Nicolas) Sarkozy help us,” the protestors said.
About 400 demonstrators gathered outside the Norwegian parliament in Oslo, a day after a similar number protests there, with some of the demonstrators having camped out overnight.
In Copenhagen, about 50 demonstrators gathered near the foreign ministry building for a fourth straight day.
“We’re calling for an immediate ceasefire, to send food and medicine into the conflicted area and to condemn the so-called ‘welfare camps,’ where people are dying and women are getting raped,” spokesman Godfrey Manoharan told AFP in Oslo.
Sri Lanka’s government says it is in the final stages of defeating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who launched a campaign in 1972 to create a separate Tamil homeland on the Indian Ocean island.
Suren Surendiran, of the British Tamils Forum, which organised the London march, described the situation in Sri Lanka as a “genocide.”
“This is about doing something today. The people here have lost direct family members. They are here for a reason. They are worried about their next of kin.
“This is not about a stop-the-war march or anything like that, this is about our own people and our direct family.”
He said that Britain, the former colonial power in Sri Lanka and one of the five United Nations Security Council permanent members, had a “moral obligation” to intervene.
“Our first demand is that we want the government to get a resolution at the UN to implement a ceasefire so that the war can stop,” said Surendiran.
“The second demand is to send in humanitarian aid and medical supplies. And the third demand is for independent journalists and international NGOs to be allowed into the area to see directly what is happening.
The UN fears that thousands of civilians will be killed or wounded as the Sri Lankan military keeps up its bid to crush the Tigers. Colombo has resisted calls for a fresh truce, saying it would only help the Tigers.
Abirami Pararajasingam, 21, a neuroscience student on the London rally, said her parents did not know whether close relatives were still alive.
“People in the West do not realise how bad the situation is,” she said.
“The situation has got so bad that everybody has realised we need to pull together to make a difference and show the world we are serious.”
This video is from ITN News, broadcast April 11, 2009.
This video is from Oru Web News, posted to YouTube April 11, 2009.
This video was posted to YouTube by user Tamilboii on April 11, 2009.