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An early wake up call for Rajapaksa as protestors gather outside hotel

As the sun rose over the DoubleTree Hilton hotel in Dunblane this morning, Sri Lanka’s war crimes accused president was in for a surprise awakening as dozens of protestors gathered outside, calling for his arrest over his role in war crimes and genocide.

The president, former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was visiting Scotland for the UN COP26 climate summit that is currently underway and is scheduled to deliver an address later today.

Protestors however gathered at the crack of dawn at the hotel gates, as a flurry of text and WhatsApp messages were shared across the country with details of where Rajapaksa was staying.

"Stop, stop - Genocide!" chanted the protestors, many of whom travelled from across the UK to demonstrate against Rajapaksa's visit to Scotland. As the hours passed, more demonstrators joined the crowd, with many Several protestors also gathered outside the hotel's side service entrance in their attempt to stop Rajapaksa leaving the hotel.

"We will make sure that this war criminal does not escape from us or from justice," said one protestor.

As more police officers arrived at the hotel gates, the protestors urged them to turn back towards the hotel and arrest the Sri Lankan president instead. “This man is a war criminal and needs to be arrested,” one protestors told the Tamil Guardian. “In Sri Lanka, he roams free and will never be brought to justice, so whilst he is out of the country we must act.”

The protest comes amidst a high profile campaign in recent weeks, with several newspaper adverts in Scottish papers and large scale projections on landmarks across the country. A digital van was roaming around the streets of the Dunblane, whilst Rajapaksa was inside. “Wanted for genocide,” it read, with a photograph of the Sri Lankan president emblazoned across it.

Last week, a legal submission was also filed with the International Criminal Court and with the Metropolitan Police, naming Rajapaksa as one of several senior Sri Lankan officials responsible for human rights violations.

With the number of demonstrators growing outside the hotel gates and delegates from other nations preparing to leave, the protestors took the decision to scale their protest back.

"We want all the other delegates to attend this important event," said one protestor. "But justice for genocide and justice for the climate are inseparable."

Eventually, several hours later, a convoy of tinted vehicles began making their way from the hotel to the gates. Rajapaksa was reportedly sitting in the back seat of the blacked out Range Rover.

“Arrest him, arrest him!” protestors chanted, as Rajapaksa was whisked out of the hotel.

“Our protest and struggle for justice is not over,” another protestor told the Tamil Guardian, as Rajapaksa drove away towards the summit in Glasgow.

Already in the city, another group of Tamil demonstrators had already began setting up for a day of demonstrations.

“We are ready for Rajapaksa to arrive,” said one activist. “We will not stop until there is justice and accountability for the genocide that he committed.”

Read more about the ongoing protest here: LIVE - British Tamils continue protests outside COP26


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