British Tamils pay tribute to ‘hero’ Varnakulasingham
[TamilNet, Sunday, 08 March 2009, 17:46 GMT]
Ten thousand British Tamil expatriates paid tribute Saturday at the funeral of Murugathasan Varnakulasingham, 26, who self-immolated in front of the United Nations in Geneva in protest at the international inaction amid the mass killings of Tamils by the Sri Lankan military. "This man died not for himself but for us," the British Tamil Councillors and Associates group said, according to a BBC report. Mr Varnakulasingham’s family have said they were proud of his actions.
On the field at the back of the SKLP Sports and Community Centre in West End Road, Northolt, thousands of Tamils waited patiently to place flowers around Mr Varnakulasingham's coffin, which was draped in the national colours of the Tamils, the Harrow Times reported.
Politicians and community leaders lined up to condemn the actions of the Sri Lankan government.
Steve Pound, MP for Ealing North, told the crowds: “You may lose a battle, you may lose a skirmish, but you will not lose the war.
“My country is part of the problem, and we must be part of the solution.
“We recognise genocide is a crime, not just against your people but a crime against all humanity. I promise you we cannot, must not, and will not stand by and let this slaughter continue.”
Mourners attended the service at Northolt community centre of the a computing graduate who declared his outrage against international inaction in a five-page letter found nearby after he self-immolated on Feb 13.
After the service, Mr Varnakulasingham's body was taken to Hendon Crematorium for a private burial watched by close friends and family.
His mother has been inconsolable since his death, but his family told the Harrow Times they were “proud” of the sacrifice he made in the name of the Tamil people.
Mr Varnakulasingham's brother-in-law, Thavaroopan Sinnathamby, 33, told the BBC: "He was a refugee in his own country before he came here, so he knew the pain of what the people were going through.
"He'd go to the demonstrations and no-one was bothering and he wanted to make an impact. I think he wanted to give his life, we feel proud for that."
“Lots of people were weeping, many, many people queued to make their way around the coffin,” said Thaya Idaikkadar, chairman of the British Tamil Councillors and Associates group.
“His death was not in vain. He achieved a lot, he is a hero for us and a son for all of us,” Mr Idaikkadar said.
Navin Shah, assembly member for Brent and Harrow, said: “This sacrifice is not only of an individual, but it is the ultimate sacrifice for his family for the cause of Tamil freedom.”