Wanted for war crimes – not wanted at Games

Don’t let war criminal Rajapaksa sully Olympics
Protest : Friday 27 July from 5pm -9pm
Aspen way E14 5ST (opposite to the Billingsate fish Market)

As people across Britain prepare to enjoy the Olympic spectacle a black cloud hangs over the Games. Once again we are faced with having to challenge a visit by the warmongers in the government of Sri Lanka to Britain. Despite repeated protests and campaigns the UK government is not only allowing President Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend the Olympics – but is also providing his security while spending enormous amounts of tax payers’ money. Such war criminals should be arrested on arrival not welcomed.

It appears that the British government has launched a campaign to ‘soften up’ the Diaspora Tamils to prepare the way for holding the Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka next year. They want to soften up opposition among Diaspora Tamils. As part of this process a number of Tory MPs, including disgraced former defence minister Liam Fox, will be ‘touring’ Sri Lanka this year. Can we hope that they will report on the true conditions in the aftermath of the war – of thousands still kept in inhumane detention camps, of a brutal military ‘land grab’ in the traditional Tamil areas, and of ongoing and escalating repression of any protest or resistance across the country? It is more likely we will be told that there are no barriers to trade with Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is keen to abolish what he calls ‘human rights culture’, is welcoming all those who trample human rights across the world for the Olympic festivities. Government leaders and representatives from North Korea, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka – wherever major oppression is taking place – will assemble in London.

But Tamil-speaking people in the UK are not opposed to the Games – or to democracy. They have in fact stepped up their fight to win more democratic rights, not only for the masses in Sri Lanka but also for all the working people wherever they live.

Since the end of the war in 2009 there has been a significant development in terms of political campaigning by Tamil people. Many Diaspora organisations denounced violence and have condemned the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government as well as the LTTE. This is no longer a secret. The Diaspora demands an inquiry into all the war crimes committed. They want justice. And of course there are those who still believe that the government and media in the UK and many western countries would listen to their plight. But contrary to their hope against all hopes, none of these governments will do anything whatsoever. As usual they will sell out the ordinary masses’ interest in exchange for profit for their friends in the big corporations.

Channel 4’s recent Killing Fields documentaries graphically exposed what took place during the war in 2009. It’s estimated that 40,000 were killed in the final fortnight alone. The military constantly bombed hospitals, schools, temporary shelters and so-called ‘no fire zones’. Every single one of 400,000 refugees was then taken to ‘detention camps’ with no proper facilities. Deaths and gross humanitarian abuses took place during the transportation and in the camps. In the aftermath, three years on, the need to fight for the rights of the Tamil-speaking people is as urgent as ever.

Only since the Killing Fields, has the big business-owned UK media shown any real interest, having been almost completely silent during the genocide. Over 150,000 people marched on the streets of London demanding justice, making history in 2009. The media in general ignored these protests. The Daily Mail came out with a scandalous, racist attack against young Tamil hunger strikers. These papers’ ignorance about the community living in the UK is breathtaking!

And it continues. Jerome Taylor, writing in today’s Independent about plans to protest Rajapaksa’s visit claims that the “Tamil community often had close links to Tamil nationalists and the Tigers themselves”. This attempt to brand the Tamil community as Tigers and vilify them must be condemned. Taylor almost echoes the Sri Lankan government’s collective punishment of all the Tamil-speaking people during and since the war, justifying the genocidal slaughter with claims of links to the LTTE. The article attempts balance by quoting two Tamil activists. Tamil Solidarity demands a correction to this article.

The reason that the Tamil-speaking people want to protest is not to obstruct the Games – or democracy. It is to expose the hypocritical nature of the British government and the genocidal Sri Lankan government – which is still getting away with crimes against humanity. We will not be persuaded to be the stooges – and protest at the ‘will’ and convenience of the Tories.

In fact it is time for all the Tamil youth to face up to the reality a world where governments of the 1% do not act in the interests of ordinary people and step up our campaign, building links with those we can rely on – other workers and young people. Tamil Solidarity will be supporting all protests against visiting war criminals and dictators and defends the democratic right to protest.

See also www.campaignkazakhstan.org for details on why Tamils must stand in solidarity with Kazakh workers and poor people