British Tamils block Westminster Bridge, demand ceasefire
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 April 2009, 01:16 GMT]
More than 5,000 British Tamils on Monday launched a sit in outside the House of Commons in London demanding an immediate stop to Sri Lanka's "genocidal war" against Eezham Tamils. The protest, led by youth, started in the green opposite the British parliament Monday noon and the demonstrators moved to Bridge Street blocking all traffic through Westminster Bridge and Victoria Embankment around 3.00 p.m. The protesters waved hundreds of Tamil Eelam national flags and carried signs and placards depicting the plight of civilians being killed in the attacks by the Sri Lankan forces and demanded an immediate ceasefire.
The protesters shouted slogans including “Sri Lanka stop the war”, “Britain break the silence” and “We want ceasefire”.
BBC reported that the demonstrators had demanded to talk to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and that 8 rescue boats were called out amid fears that they would jump en-masse into the Thames.
Soon after the protesters blocked Westminster Bridge, the Police moved in to cordon off streets surrounding the House of Commons and redirect traffic.
British Tamil students who organised the spontaneous protest said the sit in will continue until the British government responds positively to their demand.
Later in the evening, the Police was seen preventing further people joining the sit in. However Tamils continued to pour into Westminster to join the protest.
Siobhan McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden has contacted the Home Secretary Rt.Hon Jackie Smith, urging her to intervene and engage with the demonstrators, informed sources in London said.
In the meantime Britain’s Special Envoy to Sri Lanka and the former Defence Secretary Rt.Hon. Des Browne is cutting short his holiday and returning to London on Wednesday in order to address the urgent crisis in Sri Lanka.
The demonstrators seem to be settling in to spend the night continuing the blockade. More demonstrators are joining in.
“This is not a public order issue but a political matter. Involvement by politicians at the highest level is what is needed," was the comment of a senior police officer at the site of the demonstration.