Reports and Campaigns
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Tamil Solidarity Day: a great success
Akila Kumar, Tamil Solidarity student organiser
Over 100 people from the Tamil, Turkish and Kurdish communities together with other activists and trade unionists celebrated Solidarity Day 2014 on 6 September.
Organised by Tamil Solidarity with the Day-Mer Kurdish and Turkish organisation, this very successful event heard speakers from Youth Fight for Jobs, Rape Is No Joke, and unions Unison, NUT, RMT, and the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.
They spoke of the many struggles faced by workers of various nationalities and showed the importance of expressing solidarity with the struggles of all oppressed people, as Tamil Solidarity was set up to do.
The Buddhist extremist group, Bodu Bala Sena, backed by Sri Lanka's government have been violently persecuting Tamil Muslims, as was detailed by Fatheek Asareeri and Fauzer Mahroof.
Keerthikan Thennavan and Manny Thain, joint national secretaries of Tamil Solidarity, spoke of the campaign's local and national work since it was set up in 2009.
Keerthikan and Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity's trade union coordinator, have spoken to thousands of union members at conferences nationwide this year.
The unions, as well as campaigning against poor working conditions and fighting for decent pay provide essential support for Tamil Solidarity.
James Ivens from Youth Fight for Jobs highlighted young people's vulnerability to exploitation and to increasing youth unemployment.
Becci Heagney, speaking for Rape Is No Joke, showed that discrimination against women is still a huge problem.
Links can be found between these problems in Britain and the experiences of Sri Lanka's Tamil people, many of whom face discrimination, exploitation and abuse as a routine occurrence.
Speakers from Day-Mer described some of the valuable work that the community centre has done in helping Kurdish and Turkish immigrants with any problems that they encounter.
In an extract from her play Rani Moorthy brilliantly tackled themes of immigration, war and nationality. She criticised the media's detached portrayal of war and brought to life the destruction it has reaped in Sri Lanka.
As a Tamil from Malaysia of mixed roots, she shone a light on the issues of identity and nationality and captured the conflicts that Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere face today.
There was wonderful music from Parai-Voice of Freedom, from Tamil rap artist MC Starboy as well as Turkish music from Day-Mer members on saz, guitar, percussion and vocals.
Thanks to all who contributed to Solidarity Day, and to Day-Mer for helping us host it. Solidarity Day is now a feature in the year's calendar, a way of bringing campaigns and workers' organisations together. A great success, and a great platform for our work in the future.