Italian Tamils express support for Eezham homeland
[TamilNet, Monday, 16 June 2008, 14:40 GMT]
Diaspora Tamils in Northern Italy gathered Sunday for Pongku Thamizh rally held in Piazza Argentina in Milan, one of the largest cities in Italy, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and voiced their support for Eezham Tamil homeland, Tamils right to self-determination, and protested against the Sri Lankan state's aerial bombardment of Tamil civilians and rights violations of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Burani Vainer, a renown lawyer in Italy for his legal defence of freedom struggles, addressed the audience as a chief guest, on the principles of the right to self determination.
Around 500 Tamils took part in the Pongku Thamizh rally in Milan in Northern Italy, on 15 June, 2008.
Tamil poet Arivumathi, the other chief guest from Tamil Nadu, India, also addressed the audience.
Burani Vainer from the Association of Democratic Jurists, addressing the Pongku Thamizh rally in Milan
Thamileelam National flag hoisted at Piazza Argentina in Milan
The organisers of the Pongku Thamizh rally said that although only a few hundreds Tamils reside in metropolitan area of Milan nearly 500 Tamils gathered in the city where 30 Tamils families live. Many participants had come from remote areas of Northern Italy to take part in the rally.
Meanwhile, a few Sinhalese persons, believed to be working for the Sri Lankan government, arrived at the site and mobilsed a counter-protest with around 30 Sinhalese expatriates at 4:00 p.m. They were carrying Sri Lankan Lion flag and demanded the Police to remove the Tamileelam flag having Tiger emblem, saying that the Tamils were carrying the flag of the LTTE, which was proscribed in EU.
Tamil activists explained to the Italian police officials that the flag they hoisted was national flag of Eezham Tamils and that it was a cultural right of the Tamils to hoist their national flag.
The flag remained hoisted till the rally was concluded at 6:00 p.m.
Speaking to media, after the rally, the organisors said that the flag was designated in 1990 as the national flag of Eezham Tamils and that the flag carried deep sentiments of Eezham Tamils. The organisors thanked the Italian authorities for their cooperation and understanding for allowing Tamils to express their legitimate aspirations. The Tamil rally was carried out according to the rules and regulations in Italy, with necessary permissions obtained in advance, they further said.
The LTTE's emblem, which is in white background with the movement's legend marked around the Tiger insignia, was different from the Tamileelam flag which carries the Tiger symbol in red background. The Tiger insignia is an image deep rooted in Tamil heritage, centuries before the emergence of the LTTE.
Around 50,000 Sinhalese expatriates live in Northern Italy.
Around 30 Sinhalese, staging a counter-protest to Tamil rally