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In solidarity with Jaffna uni students, British Tamils protest

Published 2038 GMT 04 Dec. Updated with more photos and videos 05 Dec 10:53 GMT.

In act of solidarity, British Tamils protested on Tuesday, demanding the immediate release of the four Jaffna university students arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Department for defying the Sri Lankan security forces and marking Tamil remembrance day on the 27th November.

Echoing Tamil youth in Jaffna, Tamil youth in the UK, from university Tamil societies across the country and the Tamil Youth Organisation UK, tied black clothing across their mouths, condemning the silencing of the freedom of speech of youth back home.

Tamils across the generations joined the youth by 10 Downing Street, in London on a bitterly cold Winter's evening, to campaign for the release of the four students and for an end to the militarisation of the North-East.

Carrying placards condemning the militarisation and on-going genocide, Tamils shouted, "stop attacking Tamil students", "self-determination, for the Tamil nation", "Sri Lankan Army, get out of Tamil Eelam" and "let us remember our heroes".

Follow @TamilGuardian on Twitter for our live coverage of events.

 

 Addressing the protesters, Visakan from the Imperial College Tamil Society said:

"At Imperial, we were all shocked and horrified to hear the news of our very brave brothers and sisters, and fellow Tamil students in the Tamil homeland, in the Jaffna university - an environment where the students cannot even mourn our own war dead is clearly not one that is conducive to democracy... We call for the immediate release of the four students that have been detained."

Thusiyan Nandakumar from Kings College London Tamil society and TYO UK said:

"Those that have been attacked in Jaffna, it's just like any one of us being attacked. Whether its students at Queen Mary's, Imperial, Kings, or students at Jaffna University. An attack on anyone of our students is an attack on all of us as a nation."

Speaking in Tamil, Bharathy from the TYO UK spoken with pride and admiration of students at Jaffna university who had defied the intimidation of the state to remember the fallen, and continued to protest peacefully against the attacks despite the overwhelming militarisation of the North-East.

 

Organised by the TYO UK, the protest is one of many acts of solidarity protests taking place in diaspora capitals across the world today, and was supported by all mainstream British Tamil organisations including the Tamil Coordination Committee (TCC) and British Tamil Forum (BTF).

 

Speaking to the Tamil Guardian, Thusiyan Nandakumar of the TYO UK, and a student at Kings College London University said:

"On the 27th November, as we were remembering our fallen by lighting candles and laying flowers, our brothers and sisters back home were attacked and assaulted for doing exactly the same thing. The militarisation of the North-East means that Tamils cannot even mourn their dead. It's outrageous. The subsequent arrest of the four Jaffna university students clearly shows which direction the government of Sri Lanka is heading.. and it is not reconciliation."

"The arrest is intended to intimidate and silence other youth from joining those who defied the state to mark remembrance day. As youth here in the West we look on at the defiant protests of the nation's youth in the North-East with fear, because it is not safe for them.. but we're also inspired by their courage to stand up against what is wrong."

"The truth is, that this is just a repeat of history. We've been here before. The Tamil nation has been initmidated and silenced through arrests of the student activists and peaceful protesters for decades. It's an omninous sign of things to come."