London Tamils plan 'Friendship Train'

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
At the end of October, the Commonwealth heads of state will be meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. The peoples of the Commonwealth will be exhibiting their diverse cultures during the event. London's Tamils are planning to be amongst them.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ( CHOGM) meeting will take place on the 23-25th October 1997 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Sri Lankan President is expected to attend.

The CHOGM (pronounced chogum), organisers are planning a variety of events to coincide with the meeting. Cultural performances from around the world as well as meetings of various NGOs will take place around the city, according to Scottish officials.

The major Tamil community organisations in London have come together to organise a Tamil cultural performance at the CHOGM, under an umbrella called the 'Tamil Forum for Commonwealth 97'.

The organisations include the International Federation of Tamils, the Tamil Lawyers Association, the Medical Institute of Tamils, International Tamil Foundation, Tamil Concern, the Bolton Tamil Associations, Federation of Tamil Associations U.K and the Tamil Action Committee.

TamilNet learns that some other community organisations are participating, though they are not highlighting their presence officially.

In literature being distributed here, the Tamil Forum says they are planning to take large number of musicians, dancers and other artists along with several hundred Tamil expatriates to Edinburgh to put on the cultural show.

In their first press release, the Forum said they had hired a private train which will travel direct from London to Edinburgh (except for a brief stop at station in London's outskirts), and a total of 600 people are expected to be on board on Oct. 25.

A Forum spokeswoman told TamilNet that a large 'Tamil Eelam marquee' has been organised in Edinburgh in which up to a dozen different Tamil cultural events are expected to be staged, interspersed with speeches from the Forum's different member organisations.

Whilst the arts are the medium, the message is political. The Forum's press release says: "Tamil Eelam Nation's presence in Scotland during the CHOGM,...has a political significance in relation to the events happening in Sri Lanka."

The press release also states that the aim is "to forge a new friendship between the emerging nations of Scotland and Tamil Eelam". To reinforce the point, the Scottish and the Tamil Eelam flags are to be raised together, according to the spokeswoman.

The 'Friendship Train' has rapidly become the talk of London's Tamil community and according to the Forum, almost all the tickets have been sold at 30 pounds each.

An open invitation has been extended to the press to travel on the train and meet members of the Tamil community, and Forum officials say that a number of journalists have already signed up.

The Forum has also set up a web site (www.tamilforum.org) providing background on the event.

 

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