Report of Tamil Solidarity public meeting

University of London Union, 20 April 2012

Friday’s public meeting was a great success. Titled: Way Forward for the Eelam Struggle – What’s the Role of the Diaspora? The headline speaker was Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament (Socialist Party Ireland). As someone with a proud record of standing up for the rights of Tamil-speaking people, including in the European parliament, he received a great reception. Many of the questions from the floor were directed at Paul, and concerned how he can continue to publicise the Tamil cause and pressure the brutal regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

As he has shown consistently, Paul tirelessly campaigns for Tamil rights and self-determination – and he will continue to do that. But, as he explained, one of the key ways to build pressure is through building grassroots campaigns, such as Tamil Solidarity. This is what Paul describes as “the other international community”, the natural allies of the Tamil-speaking people, the workers and oppressed around the world.

Manny Thain, Tamil Solidarity national secretary, outlined the work we have been doing in helping to build and sustain the movement, and link it to the workers’ movement. Trade unions organise millions of members, and can add their voice and weight to protests against the Sri Lankan regime, and other forms of assistance. Solidarity, after all, is about action, not just words.

Steve Hedley, London transport organiser of the RMT union, gave the solidarity greetings of his union. He is standing in the elections to the Greater London Assembly, representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Steve explained that this is an opportunity to give working-class people a voice in the assembly, and to oppose the harsh cutbacks affecting all of us.

Martin Powell-Davies, national executive member of the National Union of Teachers, also spoke at the meeting. Martin is well known to Tamil activists, having addressed the Parliament Square occupation in 2009 and last year’s Mullivaikal commemoration in Trafalgar Square. Martin has been putting his words into action by raising the issue of Tamil rights in his union.

Keerthikan, a Tamil Solidarity organiser, listed the day-to-day campaigning work we are involved in. He made an appeal to help us publish information material, and with the work of activists in South Asia. This, of course, requires finance. So anyone who supports this work should see if they can make a financial donation to Tamil Solidarity – and to pass on their details so that we can increase our campaigning activity.

Finally, Tamil Solidarity will join with other Tamil groups, and those from the Frontline Socialist Party, on the May Day protest – 1 May, Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R, at 11am. And at this year’s Mullivaikal commemoration.