Rajapaksa on the run

Following protest calls and the mobilisation of tens of thousands of Tamils, the Oxford Union cancelled its meeting with Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Citing security concerns, the Oxford Union says that it regrets the decision. But this is a victory for all the campaigns and organisations which have exposed Rajapaksa and his regime for the brutal warmongers they are.

It was right for BTF to call for a mass protest in Oxford. Tamil Solidarity backed that call alongside our own efforts to pressure Oxford Union to cancel the meeting. (See the posting on our website – 1 December.)

We will continue to expose the lies and brutality of Rajapaksa and his cronies, and to highlight the continuation of the oppression against the Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka, as well as their agenda of attacking the rights and living standards of the working class and poor in that country.

We also support moves to protest to the secretary of state for defence, Liam Fox. Attention has been drawn to his expenses paid visits to Sri Lanka in the MPs expenses scandal last year. Tamils cannot trust Fox and this Con-Dem coalition government – their top priority is what serves their own narrow political and big-business interests. They will continue to support Rajapaksa whenever they can.

But the same goes for the other establishment party, New Labour. As the Wikileaks revelations shows, David Miliband, when he was foreign secretary in the previous government, cynically exploited Tamil issues to try to maximise New Labour votes in key marginal constituencies in the general election and not out of any genuine concern for Tamil-speaking people.

Rajapaksa says that he aims to speak at other meetings during his stay in Britain. We will do all we can to ensure that he is not given a free ride. As the Oxford Union situation showed, Tamil-speaking people and their supporters have not been beaten. And our voices will be heard.