North England Tamils protest at Sri Lanka cricket match
[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 July 2011, 07:25 GMT]
Diaspora Eezham Tamils from Manchester and Liverpool demonstrated and handed out leaflets Saturday outside the Old Trafford grounds where Sri Lanka played England in the fifth one-day-international this summer to raise awareness of Sri Lanka’s mass killings of civilians in the final months of the island’s war in 2009. The protest, organised by the leftist Tamil Solidarity (TS), was supported by British trade unions UNISON and UNITE, and local Tamil community organisations.
Between 9 and 11 a.m., several dozen Eezham Tamils and supporters handed out leaflets at locations around the world famous cricket grounds, as well as the nearby Metrolink station, community sources said.
Protestors carrying Tamil Eelam flags handed out leaflets at the ground’s entrances, while others set up a stall by the Warwick Road entrance, chosen as it used by spectators arriving by tram, to collect signatures for a petition.
Members of the Manchester Tamil Association (MTA) and the local chapter of the British Tamil Forum (BTF) participated in one of largest protests held locally by the Tamil community in England’s north.
The event was organised in last week through Facebook, participants said.
Home-made banners and placards carried by protestors on Saturday read ‘Massacre not forgotten: 40,000 Tamils killed’ and ‘Stop the discrimination, Cricket for everyone’, as well as 'Equal Rights Now' and 'Workers Rights Now.'
“We received much encouragement from both spectators and local people,” said Mr. Keerthikan, a spokesperson for Tamil Solidarity.
“Some [spectators] felt moved to join us for a while in handing out leaflets. We handed out two thousand leaflets in just 90 minutes.”
Tamil Solidarity (TS), an international group first established in Tamil Nadu in 2009 and which campaigns for “the rights of all workers and oppressed people in Sri Lanka,” was supported in Saturday’s protest by local chapters of UNISON and UNITE, two of Britain’s largest trade unions.
Three weeks ago TS campaigned at the National Shop Stewards Network’s (NSSN) annual conference in London, attended by hundreds of representatives from Britain’s trade unions.
A series of earlier protests at Sri Lanka’s cricket matches in South England and Wales organised by the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) as part of its ‘Boycott Sri Lankan Cricket’ campaign drew support from British cricket fans and the general public and sympathetic commentary in the UK’s sports media.