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7 February 2018

Protesters denounce oppressive Sri Lankan regime

Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity

On 4 February hundreds of Tamil youth attended a protest on Sri Lanka's 70th 'Independence Day' outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

It was a lively, energetic and inspiring protest of young people chanting that Independence Day does not represent the independence of ordinary people, especially Tamil-speaking people.

Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka have faced continued state repression and discrimination since the military slaughtered up to 100,000 people, including bombing Red Cross marked buildings, in the brutal end to a 30-year civil war in 2009.

The protesters chanted slogans demanding information on the disappeared, to stop land grabs, and the right to self-determination of the Tamil people.

However, we were mocked, laughed at and given a death threat by Sri Lankan authorities. A military officer - Brigadier Priyankara Fernando - wearing the much hated military gear and uniform, ran a finger across his neck as if to say: 'I will slit your throat'. This outrageous action was filmed and is being widely shared on social media.

However, his gesture is not so shocking when we see the actions of President Sirisena to protect the warmongers who carried out the genocidal slaughter from war crimes investigation.

This incident shows that the establishment is unrepentant for those well-documented war crimes and that the struggle for justice must go on.

Tamil Solidarity wrote an official complaint to the high commission and submitted the evidence, demanding the brigadier's removal.

Tamil Solidarity played a key role in organising this protest and appealed for other organisations to take part as well.

The protest was one of anger and determination - against the oppression, to fight for justice and the rights of the Tamil-speaking people.

Stop press - success

Brigadier Priyankara Fernando has since been suspended following Tamil Solidarity's campaign and circulation of the video showing his behaviour towards the protest, which received a lot of attention on social media

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