The Sri Lankan government celebrated its ‘Independence Day’ in its usual manner – by repressing peaceful protesters and infringing upon the rights of the Tamil-speaking people.
Tamil Solidarity has been organising protests outside the Sri Lankan High Commission, asserting that this day is not our Independence Day but a Black Day for all of us. We strongly condemn the Sri Lankan government for its continuous vicious policies of attacking the democratic rights of everyone in Sri Lanka. It was during a Tamil Solidarity protest that Priyanga Fernando threatened to kill the protesters.
This year, Tamil Solidarity organised a separate protest from other diaspora organisations. In Britain, some Tamil diaspora groups called for a protest, appealing to “His Majesty King Charles III” to secure our basic democratic rights. We fundamentally disagree with this approach. We do not trust the Monarchy, a tool used by British capitalism, nor do we trust the right-wing governments, including the Conservative party in power. Their interests directly oppose ours. Capitalist states have never simply granted rights; they have been achieved through the struggles of the working class, masses, and youth – our natural allies.
Our strategy is to organise collectively with our natural allies. Therefore, Tamil Solidarity adopted an independent position and organised a separate protest after the initial one by other groups. Over 1000 protesters participated in the first protest, marching to the palace and parliament. Subsequently, more than 100 individuals joined Tamil Solidarity members to continue the protest outside the embassy. Protesters also confronted the Sri Lankan high commissioner and other senior officials celebrating inside the embassy. Here are the demands we presented:
• Repeal the PTA immediately and all other oppressive laws
• Drop all charges on protesters
• Release all political prisoners
• Allow freedom of assembly, free speech
• Give back all the land occupied by the military and government authority
• We demand an independent war crime investigation
• Withdraw troops from all occupied Tamil areas
• Stop privatisation in education and health
• Allow the right to self-determination of the Tamil-speaking people.