Looking forwards: Tamil Solidarity national steering committee

Tamil Solidarity’s national steering committee met on Sunday to review the campaign of the last year and prepare the ground for the future. It was a very successful and positive meeting, although far too much was discussed and agreed at the meeting to include in this short report.

Senan, international coordinator of the campaign, introduced the first session with a brief analysis of the situation in the world today. The main themes, of course, are severe economic crisis, government programmes to cut jobs, public services and pensions, and the rise of resistance – from the revolutions in North Africa, the Occupy movements sweeping the globe, to the one-day strike in Britain on 30 November. The discussion also took in the geopolitical situation in South Asia with specific reference to Sri Lanka and the competing interests of China, India and the western powers.

Manny Thain reviewed the work of the last year, drawing attention to a number of important events and initiatives. The forum at the European parliament on 1 June was immensely significant – organised with Paul Murphy MEP and the GUE/NGL group of left/green MEPs and with the participation of British Tamils Forum and many other Tamil organisations and activists. It brought together over 100 people from around Europe and further afield, adopting a resolution on the rights of Tamil-speaking people.

The downfall of former defence secretary Liam Fox was a cause for celebration, given his close connections with the Rajapaksa regime. Of course, Tamil Solidarity is not trying to claim that we brought him crashing down! Nonetheless, it is a matter of record that we wrote consistently about Fox’s links with Rajapaksa, and hand-delivered thousands of leaflets to his constituents highlighting these links months before he was forced out.

The 700-strong protest we called against the death penalty outside the Indian high commission in September was also a landmark. And our presence at the National Shop Stewards Network conference was another significant step forward in linking with trade union activists from all over Britain.

Keerthikan reported on his visit to Sri Lanka, highlighting the extreme conditions faced by Tamil-speaking people, effectively living under military occupation. Keerthikan has also been instrumental in building Tamil Solidarity in the northwest of England – helping to organise with others the July protest outside England vs Sri Lanka test match at Lancashire County Cricket Club, to name just one event.

We will continue to develop our website, with Isai Priya driving this work forward, with a view to setting up a Tamil language page, increasing twitter use, and sending out more regular e-newsletters to our supports.
Tamil Solidarity would like to thank all those who have helped develop the campaign, and to everyone we have worked alongside and discussed with over this eventful year – not yet over, of course! We look forward to continuing the important discussions with Tamil activists in Britain and internationally on the way forward for the campaign for the rights of Tamil-speaking people.

We would also like to take this opportunity to appeal for any financial donations, large or small, to help us develop the work further. For example, bank standing orders of just a few pounds a week from a large number of people would go a long way to enabling us to support the work overseas. The same is true, of course, for trade union branch and national affiliations.

Manny, Tamil Solidarity national secretary
7 December