Thousands attend Heroes day remembrance at Excel Centre, London
[TamilNet, Friday, 27 November 2009, 15:42 GMT]
Over 50,000 British Tamils gathered at the Tamil National Remembrance Day held in the Excel exhibition centre. Specially designed interior props and the lighting resembled the “Maveerar Thuyilum Illam” Graves of fallen heroes. British Tamils carrying red roses, Gloriosa lilies (Kaarthikaippoo: Tamil Eelam national flower) and lamps, are filing into the main venue, at the Excel Centre in East London, where large cut-outs of Tamil Eelam were displayed on either side of the stage.
The event, organized by Tamil National Remembrance Foundation, an association of families of Tamils who had fallen in the Tamil struggle, was held at London’s ExCel arena. It was the largest attendance at the annual event, despite Friday being a working day, organizers said.
The annual commemoration began with a moment of silence in memory of those who gave their lives in the Tamil national struggle.
Around 12:00 noon the event organisers and the security had to limit the crowd from coming into the centre due to health and safety reasons. Thousands waited patiently until the outgoing people created the space for the people waiting outside.
The lamp was then lit by Mr K Varnakulasingham, the father of Murugadas, who self-immolated in front of the United Nations in Geneva earlier this year to draw attention to the slaughter of Tamil civilians in the Vanni.
Pre-recorded speeches by renowned Eezham Tamil poet Kasi Anandan and Seeman, a popular film director and Tamil activist from Tamil Nadu, were broadcast.
Poet Kasi Anandan spoke of the losses of this year, but stressed that this should not be understood just as an year of loss, but also as an year of opportunity.
The flame of sacrifice was lit by Mrs R Sathananthan, the mother of a fighter who sacrificed his life in the Tamil national struggle.
Many British cross party politicians shared the platform.
“A message needs to be sent by thousands of people here, not petitions, not by websites, because it is obvious that Sri Lankan government doesn’t care about websites,” said Conservative MP for Ilford North Lee Scott. Sri Lanka is an issue Conservatives cannot ignore, he added.
Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh (Mitcham & Morden) stressed that the strength of the Tamil people across the world should be gathered to have any effects in bringing any changes to Sri Lanka.