“The union representatives recounted the role the unions have historically played in bringing global injustices – such as Apartheid in South Africa – to the attention of the British public. They expressed their hope that this Solidarity Day would be the first step in making the Tamil freedom struggle a similarly prominent campaign among the union movement and wider British public.” says the British Tamils Forum.
we publish below the BTF statement in full;
British Tamils Forum (BTF) are pleased to have successfully staged a Solidarity Day, in association with Tamil Solidarity, at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Approximately one hundred British Tamils, human rights and workers’ rights campaigners, and trade union members attended this inaugural event, which was designed to foster closer ties between the British Tamil community and unions in the UK.
The Solidarity Day event was addressed by representatives from many of the UK’s most influential and largest trade unions – including UNISON, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCU), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the RMT transport union and Unite – as well as social activists and campaigners for other persecuted communities. Attendees also had the opportunity to view artwork and exhibitions on the persecution faced by Eelam Tamils.
· Granting of the Tamil people’s right to self-determination;
· An international, independent inquiry into the atrocities committed in 2009 and recognition of the genocide that has been perpetrated against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state over the last 65 years;
· Relocation of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013, which is currently set to be held in Colombo – or, failing that, a boycott of this meeting by leading Commonwealth member states such as the United Kingdom.
Representatives from the unions emphasised the common ground that exists between their organisations and the British Tamil community. They stressed the dual benefits the Tamil community stands to gain from playing a more active role in UK trade unions – both in terms of improving the welfare of the community in the UK and in bringing the suffering of Tamils in Sri Lanka to the attention of a large and sympathetic UK-wide audience.
The union representatives recounted the role the unions have historically played in bringing global injustices – such as Apartheid in South Africa – to the attention of the British public. They expressed their hope that this Solidarity Day would be the first step in making the Tamil freedom struggle a similarly prominent campaign among the union movement and wider British public.
The meeting was also addressed by campaigners from the Kurdish and Nepali communities, who drew parallels between the oppression they have faced in their own countries and the persecution endured by Tamils in Sri Lanka. These speakers urged further collaboration between the UK-based diaspora of all oppressed communities in their campaigns for their rights and freedoms.
Spokespersons from both British Tamils Forum and Tamil Solidarity expressed their optimism that this Solidarity Day would be just the first in a series of events that will build and strengthen collaboration between the British Tamil community and other like-minded, democratic and humanitarian groups in the UK.
List of speakers:
Manny Thain (Tamil Solidarity)
Sarah Sachs Eldridge (Tamil Solidarity)
TU Senan (Tamil Solidarity)
Raj Vakesan (British Tamils Forum)
Hugo Pierre (Unison)
Chris Baugh (Public and Commercial Services Union)
Martin Powell Davies (National Union of Teachers)
John Reid (RMT transport union)
Paul Kershaw (Unite)
Representative from DAY-MER (UK-based Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre)
Paul Callanan (Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Campaign)
Awatar Dhakal (Nepali political activist)
Claire Laker-Mansfield (Rape Is No Joke campaign)
Firasul Fouz (Stop Bodu Bala Sena)
Santhosh Rengan (film-maker & students’ union officer)
Niall Mulholland (Committee for a Workers’ International)