3RD LEAD (UPDATE)

Thousands gather in Hyde Park remembrance

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 13:11 GMT]
Thousands of British Tamils are gathering in London’s Hyde Park to remember the thousands of fellow Tamils massacred in the July 1983 pogrom. The event, organised by the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) on behalf of the expatriate Tamil community, is taking place in the centre of the Royal park Tuesday afternoon.



Scheduled to run from 1pm to 4pm, the event is expected to see speeches from Tamil community and human rights activists, organisers said.

The event is drawing particular attention this year in the wake of a number of attacks on Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan security forces, TYO said.

“We have to support and help protect our people now,” a TYO statement said.

The TYO has mobilised hundreds of youth volunteers to assist the crowd in the park, distribute placards and supply water.

Many people are carrying placards with pictures of of LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan. Small flags of the Tamil colours, red and yellow, are fluttering in many people’s hands.

With the event yet to begin, thousands of people are sheltering in the shade of Hyde Park’s famous trees. The green grass of the famous park has been scorched brown by several days of sunny heat.

Tamils gather at Hyde Park, London, to mark 23rd anniversary of Black July 1983 Genocide


The crowd was addressed by several speakers, including Selvam Adaikalanathan, TNA MP and Karen Parker, an internationally respected Human Rights lawyer.

Mr. Parker criticised the extensive human rights abuses which have taken place throughout this year. Pointing out Sri Lanka was an island in conflict she said rights abuses in times of conflict are also war crimes.

Mr. Adaikalanathan praised the Tamil diaspora for their unstinting support for the people of the Northeast during the times of conflict.

However he said that the Diaspora must help build up the emerging state in the Northeast, just as it had stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tamil liberation struggle.

The Sri Lankan state was seeking ways to crush the Tamil people and the malevolent intent behind the July 1983 riots continued today amid disappearances, killings, bombings and so on.

London


Pointing out how Sinhala jailors and inmates in Welikade jail massacred Tamil prisoners including TELO leader Kittumani and Thangathurai, Mr, Adaikalanathan, who presently leads the TELO party, said the defiance with which the Tamil people resisted Sinhala aggression then was the same today.

“You, the expatriates, helped stave off annihilation during the conflict. You helped us survive the economic embargo the Sinhala state imposed on the Tamils.”

He criticised the EU and other bans of the Liberation Tigers as onesided and hypocritical.

“Look at the reasons the international community gives for banning the LTTE. I ask you, does not what the LTTE is accused of pale into insignificance compared to the actions of the Sri Lankan state? Yet the condemn the LTTE and praise the state.”

“Look at what is happening in Middle East today. Look at the enormous civilian suffering and destruction being visited by Israel’s military. But the international community refuses to condemn that. Is this fair?”

“We, the Tamils, have a just cause. We have every right to rule ourselves in our homeland. On what basis can they deny us this right? On what basis can the international community condemn our struggle as terrorism?”

“If we are to overcome our obstacles, we must be strong. We must stand united under one flag. We must do so until there is a place in the world every Tamil can look to as home, until Tamil Eelam is realised.”

London


The crowd was addressed by Mr. A. C. Shanthan of the British Tamil Association.

“We are gathered here to remember the thousands of people brutally killed in the July 1983 pogrom,” he said.

“We remember how Kuttumani and others had the eyes gouged out for wanting to see Tamil Eelam before they died. We remember how thousands of people were horrifically destroyed.”

“That event was a turning point. We came to realise that the Sinhala state was determined to wipe us out as a people. Not only us, but the international community became aware of the nature of the state.”

It was also a turning point because many thousands joined the liberation struggle. And India came forward to help arm and train them and to support the Tamil struggle.”

“There are two major achievements after 23 years of struggle. First, we have seen the liberation of 70% of our homeland. Secondly, a Tamil state is emerging in our homeland.”

“Still our struggle is not over. The new government of Mahinda Rajapske has been in power for six months. In that time, over five hundred Tamil civilians have been murdered. Things are getting worse every day. Horrific atrocities are taking place. Four thousand people have fled to India.”

“It is after Mahinda came to power that Army-backed paramilitaries expanded and escalated their atrocities against the Tamil people.”

“The international community does not seem to appreciate the plight of our people. Instead of helping to end the suffering and in pressuring the Sri Lanka government, it is denouncing the Tamil struggle as terrorism. The EU and Canada have recently banned the Liberation Tigers.”

“But in Canada, in Europe, everywhere our people are united in demanding an end to these bans,” he said to growing applause.

“We are gathered here today to send a message to the international community: you cannot split the Tigers and the Tamil people. They are united in their cause of liberation,” he said to enthusiastic clapping.


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