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Platform of Tamil solidarity event, London, Hugo Pierre speaking, 8.6.13
Tamil solidarity event - a great success
The Solidarity Day held in London yesterday was a great success.
Organised by Tamil Solidarity and the British Tamils Forum, it brought together people from the Tamil community with representatives of the trade unions, the student movement and a number of other campaigns.
Participants denounced the decision to go ahead with the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka in November, demanding that the decision to send prime minister David Cameron and Prince Charles to that meeting is reversed.
Claire Laker-Mansfield, chair of student campaign 'Rape Is No Joke', expressed disgust at the "complicity of the British government with the Sri Lankan regime".
The millions-strong National Union of Students has affiliated to Tamil Solidarity, pledging support for the struggle of the Tamil-speaking people.
Claire said that students would have to campaign against the Commonwealth meeting taking place.
Trade union support
The Solidarity Day marked a significant step forward in the struggle for Tamil rights, above all by strengthening the links with the trade union movement.
A number of leading trade union activists spoke at the second rally. Hugo Pierre, Unison activist and convenor in Camden schools, spoke of his visits in the past to Sri Lanka when it was clear from discussion with workers in the south and in the tea plantations that the Bandaranaike regime was preparing the state machinery for further reprisals against the Tamils.
Unions organise over six million working people in Britain. Not only do they campaign for their members' interests in the workplace and against attacks on education, health and other public services, they also have a long history of campaigning against injustice internationally.
Chris Baugh is the assistant general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), one of the most radical and active unions in Britain. He said that 'solidarity' was not just a nice idea but a most powerful weapon in the fight against the international neoliberal consensus that sees the likes of Cameron collaborating with the war criminal Rajapaksa.
He said: "PCS needs to follow the example of all unions and build solidarity with Tamils against repressive regimes and complicit governments".
Tamil solidarity event, 8.6.13
Martin Powell-Davies, member of the national executive of the NUT teachers' union, said that if Tamils and trade unionists work together, building awareness of the struggle of Tamils and building the trade unions as fighting bodies against all repression, Cameron will live to regret his participation in the Commonwealth meeting.
In addition to speakers from the trade unions, the Solidarity Day also included campaigners from Turkey and Nepal, and on the campaign against the right-wing, anti-Muslim Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, among many others.
Especially among the young people, there was a feeling that a big step had been taken in understanding how to fight back.
From a Tamil Solidarity press release
For more information, contact:
Senan, Tamil Solidarity international coordinator - 07908 050 217
Manny Thain, Tamil Solidarity joint national secretary - 07974 794 695