Hundreds of British Tamils gathered in London on Friday evening to protest against Sri Lanka’s participation in the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the reported invite to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend the opening ceremony.
Protestors gathered along Aspen Way, which Olympic vehicles, including members of the Royal Family, passed on their way to the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. Beating drums and chanting slogans condemning Sri Lanka’s genocide of the Tamil people, the protesters called for the suspension of the country from inetrnational sporting events.
Reports that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa may be in the city to attend the Games spurred protesters on, who called for his arrest, however sources alleged to TamilNet that the Sri Lankan delegation did not attend the opening ceremony.
Simultaneously, a group of protesters also gathered near Marshgate lane, close to the entrance to the Olympic Stadium. With East London packed with thousands of spectators for the Games, a keen interest was shown in the protest, which attracted a large crowd from passers-by. Many members of the public stopped to talk with the protesters and took home leaflets, with hundreds having been distributed by members of the Tamil Youth Organisation throughout the day.
Many Olympic fans expressed their solidarity with the Tamil people and asked to have their photos taken with the Tamil Eelam national flag.
A large group of Tamils also went to support hunger striker Gobi Sivanthan, who was entering the 6th day of his strike, on the busy Stratford High Street.
See our earlier post: Tamils protest against Sri Lanka's participation in the Olympics (22 July 2012)
Also see our Twitter page here for live updates of the protest as it happened.