|Photographs Tamil Guardian|
Thousands of British Tamils marched across London, convening at Waterloo Place, in remembrance of the victims of the Mullivaikkal massacre.
An array of Eelam flags lined the procession, along with a variety of placards and banners demanding justice for the atrocities of May 2009. Participation spanned the generations with elderly marchers bearing large banners and young Tamils leading chants calling for an independent international investigation into the genocide.
Satirical masks were distributed among protesters to denounce Mahinda Rajapakse, while some protesters used them to protect their identity.
The march ended with a sit-down at Waterloo Place, where various MPs and Tamil activists addressed the crowds.
Lee Scott, Conservative MP for Ilford North and Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T) was the first to speaking of the atrocities and the need for justice said:
“I believe this issue is too important for party politics to play a role.”
Roger Evans, Conservative London Assembly member delivered a message on behalf of the mayor of London and ridiculed the idea of a domestic investigation, saying:
“If someone broke into your house, you wouldn’t then call the burglar to come along and investigate the crime,”
Calling for an independent, international investigation Evans hoped that the process would not be as drawn out as those in Bosnia and Rwanda.
Leader of the World Tamils Federation, Pazha Nedumaran, called for Sri Lankan war criminals to be tried at the International Criminal Court, and deplored the fact that while Tamils were protesting for an investigation, the Sri Lankan government was being rewarded by being allowed to chair the Commonwealth. Addressing Tamil activist efforts, Nedumaran said:
“Tamils around the world will stand behind the efforts of British Tamils in pressuring their government to change the decision to attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka.”
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Southwark, Simon Hughes, emphasised his party’s commitment to implementing an independent, international investigation and vowed to continue pressuring the EU, the US and the UN to achieve this.
TNA MP, Sritharan, reiterated May 18th was not a day of celebration for Tamils. Highlighting various instances of land-appropriation across the North-East, educational disadvantages and sexual assaults on Tamil women, Sritharan called upon the Tamil diaspora to be united in creating a path for freedom.
President of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), Father Emmanuel deplored the “genocide and eradication of the very roots of Tamil existence”, condemning CHOGM as a “cover-up” giving Sri Lanka “licence to continue its genocidal acts”. He further said:
“The events of the last six decades cannot be forgotten or erased from the collective memory of all the Tamils around the world,”
Following Father Emmanuel’s speech, the Eehaichudar – sacrificial flame - was lit by Mr Navam, a brother of three Maveerar, while a candlelight vigil was held in the crowd.
Siobhan McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham & Morden and Vice-Chair of the APPG-T urged British Tamils to continue pressuring their MPs into action against the UK’s attendance at CHOGM.
British Tamils Forum (BTF) co-ordinator Ravi recalled the demonstrations of 2009, when Tamils had protested to prevent exactly what took place in Mullivaikkal. Highlighting that 18,000 Tamils remain unaccounted for, Ravi said that Tamils should be prepared to see the struggle through until the end-goal.
The General Secretary of Tamil Nadu’s branch of Communist Party India (CPI), Pandyan MLA condemned the genocide of Tamils, the exclusion of witnesses and called for an independent, international investigation.
Condemning India’s complicity in the persecution of Eelam Tamils, Dhivya, a student activist from Tamil Nadu declared that the thirst for Tamil Eelam was shared by Tamils universally.
Closing the event was Vaiko’s video address, in which he condemned the brutal killing of Balachandran and called on the Commonwealth to sanction Sri Lanka.
See live coverage from the event on our Twitter account here.
Photos courtesy of Chiara Contrino.