Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

8000 Tamils protest at Rajapaksa's lunch with Queen

Published 22:40 BST

Photographs added 07 Jun 2012 02:01 BST 

Thousands of Tamils marched through the streets of London on Wednesday protesting against Rajapaksa's UK visit to have a Diamond Jubilee lunch with the Queen, before egging his car as he made his way to the airport.

Protesters throw eggs at Rajapaksa's car as he leaves for the airport.

At 8am this morning, buoyed but undeterred by the cancellation of Rajapaksa's key note speech at the Commonwealth Economic Forum,  hundreds of protesters began to gather outside Mansion House, before marching on to Marlborough House where Rajapaksa was due to have lunch with the Queen.

As the march progressed, hundreds rapidly swelled into thousands as scores of Tamils arrived with placards, banners and Eelam flags. By mid-morning the march had reached an estimated 8000 protesters, as they congregated around Marlborough House. Hundreds of Tamils from France, Germany and other European countries joined the protest with their country's flags flying outside.

Furious at the invitation extended to him, protesters dragged an effigy of Rajapaksa through the streets and burnt the Sri Lankan constitution.

Shortly before 1pm, dignitaries began to arrive at Marlborough House. Police with riot gear grew suddenly in numbers, curtailing protesters behind barricades, as the atmosphere grew tense at Rajapaksa's expected arrival. Decrying him as a war criminal, protesters shouted endlessly.

As the police presence reached its peak, Rajapaksa arrived suddenly and entered Marlborough House. The Queen followed shortly, driving past the throngs of protesters. Numerous eye witnesses state that the Queen was carefully observed to be reading the placards and banners held by protesters.


As the lunch got underway, furious protesters headed for the Park Lane Hilton hotel where Rajapaksa has been staying during his UK trip.

Marching and shouting relentlessly, the protesters stood opposite the hotel as the Metropolitan police and the City of London police surrounded the area.

Tamil Londoners reported hearing the protest mentioned in local traffic updates as the Park Lane area ground to a near halt with protesters and police.

Police vans were noted in all adjacent roads, with back up vehicles in Hyde Park, and police guarding every entrance of the hotel.

Sri Lankan diplomatic vehicles were spotted loitering around the back end of the hotel. At the front of the hotel meanwhile, one Tamil photographer told the Tamil Guardian, that Sri Lankan diplomats urged the police to arrest him - he was taking photographs of the protest.

As reports of Rajapaksa's arrival spread, the police presence swelled once more with lines of police officers, reinforced with canine units and police with riot gear, surrounding the barricaded Tamils.

Rajapaksa meanwhile snuck in the back way. Undeterred, the protest continued, waiting for his departure to the airport. 

One hour after his back door arrival, flanked by security, Rajapaksa was seen leaving the hotel in a black Range Rover. The protesters surged forward, shouting and throwing eggs at his car. One van that was stopped by the police in order to let the egged Range Rover speed off, was the unfortunate recipient of a wall of eggs.

The shouting, audible clearly from within the Park Lane subway, went on.


More photographs from the day:



We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.