by David Broder
Days after the Sri Lankan state struck to smash the Tamil Tigers’ control of their last strip of territory on the north of the island, Tamils in London are maintaining their protest in London’s Parliament Square. Over 1,000 people massed opposite the Houses of Parliament this afternoon – overwhelmingly dressed in black, with many of them holding black flags or with black rosettes, to mark the massive death toll after the Sri Lankan state offensive.
Much like on previous occasions I have visited the Tamil demo, the overwhelming majority of participants were themselves Tamils, with only a handful of people from the organised far left visible.
One noticeable feature of the demonstration was the extent to which it had become a more explicitly pro-Tamil Tiger affair, with the group’s flags in abundance and the section of people closest to the Palace of Westminster – the only people chanting – shouting slogans such as “Tamil Tigers, Freedom Fighters”. The destruction of the force in recent weeks combined with the enormous repression of the Tamil people and bloody attacks on civilians had clearly led many to identify even more closely with the Tamil Tigers.
This was also reflected in some ways at a recent The Commune forum attended by members of the British Tamil Forum, who despite some talk of intervention by the international community, soon made clear that they were opposed to all foreign troops coming to the island and favoured the armed struggle of the Tamil people themselves to push back the Sinhalese offensive.
Despite the sombre mood of the demonstration and the attire of those attending, people I spoke to today remained defiant:
“Of course, we have to keep fighting. We are not here because of some political cause, we have to be here to defend our people. To defend our identity, to defend our nation. It is not possible for us to give in”.
“We are here to show that we are not surrendering, we will stand up for our nation and for our culture. They can’t take that away from us, they will not take that from the Tamil people. We will stay here as long as we have to, to show people that they are not alone and that we do not tolerate this genocide”.
“We need support, we need people to see what Sri Lanka is doing and what is happening there. People are being oppressed across the world, and this is another victory for oppression and against the peoples fighting for liberation.”