Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/581/7344
Southampton protest: Stop the slaughter of Tamils
A SMALL but militant group of Southampton University students took their protest against the genocide of the Tamil people in the north of Sri Lanka to the local civic centre and regional BBC building on Monday 18 May. An estimated 20,000 Tamil civilians have been killed, mainly by government shelling, since the start of this year.
Rosie Isaac, Southampton Socialist Students
Banners highlighting the devastating humanitarian crisis and the exclusion of the media and aid agencies from the warzone drew attention from people, many of whom seemed to be unaware of the atrocities Tamil people are facing.
The protest entered the civic centre building chanting: "UK government - blood on your hands", in response to the virtual silence of the New Labour government.
The surprised security guards attempted to throw the group out of the building. But the protestors refused to leave until they were allowed to present 34 letters, one for each elected councillor, outlining the situation in Sri Lanka and demanding national and international action against the genocide.
The protest then moved on to the BBC building where the doors were swiftly locked on our approach. The head of programming for the south west region came down to speak to the protestors. This gave us an opportunity to express our disgust at the lack of balanced coverage that the crisis in Sri Lanka has received. He was extremely uninformed about the conflict, so we filled him in on the last 30 years! We presented him with a letter, and then took our protest to the town centre.
Through our local action we wanted to mark the fact that thousands of civilians have been murdered by the Sri Lankan government's brutal campaign to crush the Tamil separatist LTTE guerrillas. Our demonstration coincided with the Sri Lankan government declaring: "the end of the war".
But that government's tactics of sustained military action against civilians is short sighted. A resistance against national oppression cannot be defeated through murdering their people. The events of this year will further ingrain the suffering and devastation of the Tamil people onto the minds of the younger generation who will not give up the fight.
The fight for true equality and democratic rights for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka must continue, in Sri Lanka and through international solidarity. We - young people, workers and trade unionists - must continue to organise a mass campaign for the rights of the Tamil people and their right to self-determination. The war may be over in the eyes of the government, but for Sri Lanka's Tamil people, who have lost everything, this is the beginning of a fightback for basic human rights.
In The Socialist 27 May 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Construction workers feature
International socialist news and analysis
PCS conference and workplace news
Socialist Party campaigning news