Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

‘Rude awakening as Tamils tracked foe to Dunblane’ – The Times

“In the early hours of Monday, under the cover of darkness, hundreds of Tamil activists marched on the DoubleTree Hilton Hydro hotel,” wrote the Times this morning, in a piece that looked at the protest in Dunblane earlier this week, where Sri Lanka’s war crimes accused president Gotabaya Rajapaksa was staying.

See extracts from the article below. See the full piece here.

Their quarry was Lieutenant Colonel Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 72, president and commander in chief of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

A dearth of accommodation in Glasgow had meant that Rajapaksa, dubbed “The Terminator” for his apparent ability to make opponents vanish, had decamped to this sleepy commuter town, population 10,000, before Cop26.

“The presidents of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ukraine were all there at the hotel,” said Vinthan, a lawyer and one of about a thousand UK-based members of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority who had travelled north in a cavalcade of coaches, cars and mini buses. “However, we made it clear we were only after one person.”

Rajapaksa has been accused of authorising torture and rape and orchestrating “death squads” that targeted Tamil separatists, journalists and his political opponents — charges he strenuously denies.

The demonstrators roared and waved tiger-festooned banners when the president finally sped by, under police protection, on his way to be greeted by Boris Johnson.

“We quite literally gave him a rude awakening,” enthused Amuthan, a softly spoken London-based scientist. “He will be incensed as this is something he would not even dream of encountering in Sri Lanka. If we had been protesting like this over there we would either be dead right now or ‘disappeared’ into police custody.”

Both men said that relatives in Sri Lanka would be in grave danger if their full names were used.

A few streets away a van displaying a glowing digital sign trundled past the town’s ancient cathedral. “War criminals are not welcomed in Scotland; a land of freedom, justice and equality,” it stated.

Convoys of Range Rovers, their passengers concealed behind darkened glass, streamed out from the four-star hotel where rooms can usually be secured for a decidedly modest £85 a night. The hotel’s “King Superior” suites are about double that, but the price includes complimentary slippers and a bottle of house wine.

In Glasgow Amuthan was mulling over his fleeting encounter with a leader who, like Cumberland before him, stands accused of having blood on his hands.

“The people of Dunblane were lovely, although we probably inconvenienced the other heads of state who were staying there,” he said, permitting himself a wry smile. “I think they will look very carefully at who they are sharing a hotel with in future.”

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.