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British Tamils commemorate Maaveerar Naal

Thousands of British Tamils gathered at the ExCel convention centre in London today to mark the 36th Maaveerar Naal. 

A lamp was lit by Selliah Kanagaratnam, a Tamil activist from North-East Coordinating Committee before the British flag was raised by Barbara Rajan, the director of the Tamil Youth Organisation UK (TYO UK). 

The significance of the Tamil Eelam flag was explained before it was hoisted by Ananth, the coordinator of the Tamil Coordinating Committee UK (TCC UK). 

A series of flags were then laid on the makeshift memorial graves in honour of the tens of thousands of Tamils who laid down their lives in the struggle for liberation from the oppressive Sinhala Buddhist state.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran's 2008 Maaveerar Naal speech to the Tamil nation was then played to the crowd

"The Sri Lankan government are not just trying to wipe out the LTTE. They are trying to wipe out the Tamil nation," he said at the time.

The sacrificial lamp was then lit by Prabhananthan, the son of late LTTE senior commander, Brigadier Sornam, whilst the Thuyilum Illam song played.

Thousands of Tamils laid Karthigai flowers - the national flower of Tamil Eelam - on makeshift graves and at the portraits of fallen fights to pay their respects.

Bob Blackman, the MP for Harrow East, spoke at the remembrance event and said that he was honoured to be at the Excel today to honour those who “gave their lives in the cause of freedom.”

"In Sri Lanka, we have a government on its knees suppressing the minority communities [...] the Tamil community is severely oppressed," he added. 

"Although it is a sad day, it is an opportunity for us to say the current Sri Lankan govenrment cannot say it represents the whole nation until there is a just settlement for the Tamil people," Blackman said. 

Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tamils (APPGT) also spoke at the event. 

As Chair of the APPGT, Colburn said he will continue to "push for peace, justice, truth and accountability for war crimes.” He added that the APPGT will work to join the USA and Canada in sanctioning those responsible for war crimes and who are still in positions of power today.

Both Colburn and Blackman stated that it was positive news that David Cameron has been appointed as the UK's Foreign Secretary as he was the first world leader to visit Jaffna since World War II.

As prime minister, Cameron delivered a robust message to Sri Lanka’s leaders at the time, as he pledged to back an international inquiry into war crimes, refused to shake the hand of then-defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and insisted on travelling to the military occupied North-East, where he was surrounded by distraught relatives of those forcibly disappeared by Sri Lankan forces.  

The speeches were followed by various dances, singing performances and poem recitals.

See more photographs from the event below: 





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