UK Tamil Demonstrators drain Met Police Budget
Posted on May 19th, 2009

By Tina Edward Gunawardhana

The ongoing demonstration outside the UK Parliament in Westminster has since its inception 43 days ago cost the countryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s largest police force almost ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚£8 million revealed Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Speaking to a ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Home Affairs Committee he said that the demonstration meant the police force was extraordinarily stretched. He added that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-we have to provide such a level of resources that it is reducing policing on the streets of LondonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ During the last 43 days these Tamil demonstrators supporting the LTTE have been there around the clock. Waving flags with the tiger insignia which is in violation of the UK Anti Terrorism laws. In addition they have been creating a cacophony of noise beating drums and also taking over the streets by taking over the roads surrounding Big Ben an Parliament. These actions have caused traffic chaos, crippled the transport system and caused untold suffering to the general British taxpaying public.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Initially these demonstrations were held without permission but with the alleged intervention of LTTE supporting British MPƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s permission has been given for only 50 demonstrators to be there, however on most days this number is exceeded. The only time I saw less than ten demonstrators was at 4am on last Saturday morning when I drove past them to see how many were there braving the early morning cold weather and drizzle.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ These demonstrators initially called for a ceasefire however since the war has been concluded and victory over the Tamil tigers declared the demonstrators are still there. Now they have claimed that they will even continue this demonstration for a year, their reason to demonstrate they say, is ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to highlight the human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ On a couple of occasions the demonstrators had made their way to the Indian High Commission in Holborn and protested there. On the first occasion they had pelted stones and other missiles and managed to break the bullet proof windows of the Indian High commission. They have also staged demonstrations outside ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the Sri Lankan embassy several times and ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ have pelted stones at the embassy.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ During the last 43 days when this illegal demonstration was taking place British MP3ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s sympathetic to the Eelam cause did not bat an eyelid, in fact they kept going to the demonstration and gave them words of encouragement. When sections of the Sri Lankan Diaspora spoke to the British Police to complain about the public ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ display of the Tiger flag they were told that they flag could not be taken down as it was their democratic right to fly the flag, when it was pointed out that the flag was in violation of the terror laws, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the law enforcement agencies said that if they removed the flags there would be violence and as their were women and children at the demo they did not want to create a violent ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and confrontational situation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When they plan to take over the streets they bring their women and children and station them at the front. This prevents the police from being able to move them back to the parliament square. These tactics of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ using women and children as shields appear to have been directly imported from the Wanni battlefields. In confirmation of this tactic, Commander Bob Broadhurst who also addressed the Home Affairs Committee meeting ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ said that the demonstrators had the ability to mobilise hundreds and thousands in a very short space of time which overwhelms police resources. He added: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-when that happened they tend to put their women, children and babies at the forefront which makes it difficult for us to use forceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Articles in the British press on the demonstrations encouraged a flurry of reader responses where British people expressed their anger that the Tamils were holding their capital to ransom. Many had made comments that this was not a problem for the British to get involved in. What little sympathy the Londoners especially had for the Tamil cause totally evaporated when they saw the high handed antics of the demonstrators. Several protestors jumped in to the river Thames. This prompted one British person to write in lamenting that there were no sharks in the Thames! Other readers urged the police to bring in water canons and flush the protesting Tamils down the Thames. Such was the ire these demonstrators evoked.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In an act of total disregard for religion four Tamils scaled the Westminster Abbey and unfurled a banner from the roof of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the hallowed abbey. This act of wanton disrespect against the religion of their host country earned them condemnation with some readers asking why they did not climb on top of a Hindu Kovil instead of the Abbey.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Londoners are getting weary of this protest and they feel it has nothing to do with them and are angry that in a time of deep recession and job cuts taxpayerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s money is being used to police a demonstration of terrorist sympathisers. Many also openly question if the British Government and Police would show the same level of sympathy had the demonstration been by an Islamic group.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ While the British Government and law enforcement agencies have been treating these Tamil protestors with kid gloves and relative sympathy allowing them to cause disruption, pelt stones at High Commissions and cause mayhem in London, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ over in Sri Lanka such feelings of tolerance are not displayed by the British High Commission in Colombo. After yesterday protests orchestrated by the JVP outside the British High Commission in Colombo, the spokesperson of the mission in Colombo has seen it fit to express their ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-outrageƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ over Mondays demonstration.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What is baffling is why the British Government maintained a stoic silence when the Sri Lankan embassy in London was attacked. Why didnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t the mandarins in the foreign and commonwealth office in London express outrage that the Tamils had attacked the Sri Lankan High commission in London. After all they have good relations and work closely with the Sri Lankan mission in London. Some wonder if staff at the FCO were too busy entertaining the demonstrating Tamils and advising ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ them on the next attention seeking gimmicks or were they coaching the young Tamil students what to do next in the international area to espouse their cause.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ At least now that Sri Lanka has finally defeated terrorism the British Government should put a stop to these vile and degrading protests. These protestors have tarnished the image of Tamils and their ireputation lies in ruins. The greatest service these misguided Tamil demonstrators could do for the Tamil community at large ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ is to stop spitting anti Sri Lankan vitriol and take a long hard look at their racist and despotic minds . They should look to the future and try to move forward forging relationships with the fragmented ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sinhala, Muslim and Burger communities not forgetting their own Tamil people who were opposed to the LTTE.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The quicker these demonstrators realise that they should stop breathing venom, contempt and hatered and ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ not let themselves be caged by the past but instead look to the future to develop the country and help the people of Sri Lanka will the Diaspora wounds really begin to heal.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If that is not done and these tamil demonstrators continue to wallow and be confined to the dark deep ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ abyss of war and hate – ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ it is them that will tarnish ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the image and ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ stymie the aspirations of the Tamils. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 


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