Feature Article

With a little help from his friends

[TamilNet, Sunday, 04 June 2006, 01:17 GMT]
Whilst there has been dismay amongst the Tamils over the international community’s reluctance to condemn unabashed abuses by Sri Lanka’s security’s forces, one man has decided to take matters into his own hands.

Idaikadar on Hunger strike
Idaikadar on Hunger strike
Thaya Idaikadar is now in his second day of a hunger strike outside Britain’s Parliament. He hopes to draw world attention to the plight of his fellow Tamils amid the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka.

In particular, Idaikadar, a British citizen, is demanding his adopted country takes a lead in pressing Sri Lanka’s government to curb violence by the Sinhala-dominated military against civilians in the island’s Northeast.

“I have been driven to take this desperate measure because of the continuing violence against Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan military. So many ordinary people have been murdered by state security forces,” he said.

“There is absolute impunity in Sri Lanka and total silence from the international community, including Britain, my home,” he said in a statement emailed to media by supporters.

“The international community must insist Sri Lanka acts like a responsible state and end the flagrant abuse of human rights. Britain must take a lead in this.”

A hunger strike outside Westminster’s most famous House might seem somewhat eccentric.

But the solitary protest by the 55-year old accountant has triggered a veritable flood of support from his community. Hundreds of well-wishers have travelled from the London suburbs where the Diaspora is concentrated to stand – quite literally – by him.

A Tamil parliamentarian from Sri Lanka visiting London came to extend her support.

Ms Padmini Sithamparanathan, Jaffna MP of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said the Tamils of the Northeast, living under military occupation, were relying on the efforts of the Diaspora to alleviate their plight.

Idaikadar, who was recently re-elected Harrow Councillor, is also chair of the newly-formed All party Tamil Councillors and Associates, an organisation that unites Tamil councillors and candidates. Many of the seven fellow Tamil councillors who won seats in the UK’s recent local government elections have also visited him.

A councillor of the Labour party – Britain’s ruling party, Idaikadar is known for his involvement with numerous community projects, tsunami rehabilitation and South Asian Earthquake relief activities.

Meanwhile images of Idaikadar’s portly figure seated silently on a folding chair in front of a large sign protesting ‘Stop Genocide of Tamils’ and surrounded by supporters echoing his demand have been flashed around the world by Tamil television stations.

Idaikadar, who began his hunger strike at midday Friday, expects to continue for 101 hours. As a diabetic person, his family’s main worry is fluctuating blood sugar level.

However, a team of physicians from Tamils Health Organisation (THO), have stepped forward to keep Idaikadar’s health under observation, with blood tests every two hours.

A shifting group of 150 supporters are staying with Idaikadar through the night – even when the occupants of the besieged House have retired for their night.

But even without his well-wishers, Idaikadar won’t be short of company: in another part of the green outside Parliament, sits the perplexed figure of Brian Haw, who is staging Britain's most prominent protest against the war in Iraq.

Haw, who has maintained a vigil outside the Houses of Parliament for more than five years, is the focus of renewed efforts by the authorities to end his protest - efforts that British press reports say are increasingly farcical.


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