Rival London demonstrations as Rajapaksa meets Commonwealth leaders

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 June 2008, 13:49 GMT]
Over thousand expatriate Tamils demonstrated Tuesday outside the Commonwealth Secretariat where Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa was attending a conference of Commonwealth leaders. Meanwhile several hundred other Tamils who arrived at the demonstration in Pall Mall were turned away by Police, citing space restrictions, to another space in Trafalgar Square. Next to the Tamil demonstration fifty Sinhalese staged a protest in support of the SL President Rajapaksa.

Protest in London against Rajapaksa
Tensed atmosphere caused by Tamil and Sinhala protestors. The ensued verbal exchanges compelled the British Police to erect barriers separating them.

Diaspora Tamils protesting against Mahinda Rajapaksa in London
Diaspora Tamils protesting against Mahinda Rajapaksa in London
A thousand Tamil expatriates attended the demonstration from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

With an official restriction on the number of people permitted to gather, police extended the designated space, but as protestors continued to arrive, directed them to another gathering point in Trafalgar Square.

About fifty Sinhalese, carrying several Lion flags demonstrated next to Tamils in support of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Police separated the two groups with barriers and metal sheets.

The Sinhala protestors denounced the British Tamil Forum, which had coordinated the organizing of the Tamil demonstration as a Tamil Tiger front.

On Monday, Amnesty International organized another demonstration against the Sri Lankan president outside the Commonwealth Secretariat protesting repression of media in Sri Lanka.

South Asia director of the Amnesty International, Sam Zarifi, told the BBC the government should understand that Sri Lanka is ‘not forgotten’ by the international community.

“Certainly the situation in Sri Lanka has been the source of the increasing concern around the world because the deterioration has been rapid,” Sam Zarifi told BBC Sandeshiya.

The government is not seen to be willing, he said, to respond to the concerns by human rights watchdogs and the international community.

“We hope President Rapaksaksa understands that this is not a forgotten conflict,” Mr. Zafiri added.

Tamil protestors carrying Tamileelam umbrella
Protest in London against Rajapaksa
Tamil protestors

Sinhalese supporting Rajapaksa with Lion flag
Tamil protestors
Protest in London against Rajapaksa


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