Demonstrators from both the British Tamil community and its supporters staged a mass rally to Downing Street today to call on the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to boycott the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is due to take place later this month in Sri Lanka.
“At its peak, almost 4,000 people took part in the rally, waving banners and placards describing the various human rights abuses, war crimes and acts of genocide the Sri Lankan state stands accused of committing against the Tamils.” says the BTF. Demonstrators also displayed messages calling on David Cameron and Prince Charles to avoid lending legitimacy to a state that continues to smear “blood on its hands”.
At the end of the procession, six members of British Tamils Forum presented a petition on behalf of the crowd to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to boycott the summit in order to send the strongest possible message that the UK would not tolerate Sri Lanka’s historical and continuing violations of international law. The petition also called for the Commonwealth to suspend Sri Lanka and demanded that those responsible for perpetrating acts of genocide against the Tamil people must be held to account by the international community.
Only yesterday the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband MP, reiterated to British Tamils Forum members that the Labour Party stands firmly opposed to the UK government’s decision to participate in CHOGM in Sri Lanka.
We publish below the petition in full;
Rt Hon David Cameron MP Prime Minister
10 Downing Street Westminster
London SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister
Boycott CHOGM in Sri Lanka
British Tamils Forum (BTF) on behalf of the Tamil people in Britain wishes to express our dismay at your decision to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Sri Lanka.
Although you had expressed grave concerns at the abysmal human rights situation in Sri Lanka, you have stated that you will attend the meeting and give a strong message to the Sri Lankan leadership.
As you are aware, the Sri Lankan state massacred more than 70,000 innocent men women and children and executed prisoners of war in cold blood. Nearly 147,000 people remain unaccounted for since the end of the war. Yet the Sri Lankan regime continues to defy calls for an independent inquiry, denying any wrongdoing, despite emerging irrefutable evidence.
The Sri lankan regime with the advice of their highly paid PR firms have been trying to launder their murderous image by organising international events, seminars and conferences in which the Sri Lankan President speaks, repeating their denial of any wrongdoing.
The CHOGM in Sri Lanka is yet another of these image laundering exercises by the Sri Lankan state. These events only give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan regime which continues its genocidal programmes against the Tamil people.
As recently as 31 August 2013 the regime has subjected Tamil women of a village to enforced contraception, after alluring them to a clinic in the pretext of vaccinating their young children. The regime continues to erase Tamil people’s identity in the island, most recently on 30 October 2013 when a Hindu temple in Dambulla was demolished by a group of Buddhist monks while the police gave them protection.
The Sri Lankan state has grabbed 6300 acres of Tamil people’s land for its military expansion and is demolishing their homes at a time when there is an enormous need to build more houses in the war ravaged areas. It has driven out Tamil fisherfolk from their coastal villages and Tamil farmers from their farmland. Sinhala people brought in from the south are being settled in these places, depriving the Tamil people of their property, shelter and their right to earn a living.
The attacks on journalists and news printing facilities, abduction and enforced disappearances by the notorious “white van” death squads, rape and murder of Tamil women in the hands of the occupying all Sinhala military and their affiliated paramilitaries are common occurrences.
These acts of genocide will continue unabated until the international community takes decisive and effective actions against the Sri Lankan state.
The Canadian Prime Minister has rightly taken a principled stance against holding the meeting in Sri Lanka and has sent a clear and strong message to the Sri Lankan regime, admonishing it for the continuing violations for human rights of the Tamil people.
We believe that your boycott from this summit, clearly stating the reasons, will be the strongest message you can deliver to the Sri Lankan regime. Suspending Sri Lanka from Commonwealth and holding it to account for its genocidal acts, while providing protection to the Tamil people through a UN protection mechanism, is the need of the hour.
Please reconsider you decision to attend the meeting in Sri Lanka.
Ravi Kumar General Secretary