2009 Tamil diaspora protests: Wikis


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The 2009 Tamil diaspora protests refers to a series of protests and demonstrations which took place in several countries across the world, urging national and world leaders and organizations to take action on bringing a unanimous cease fire to the Sri Lankan Civil War, which had taken place for over twenty-five years. The protests took several forms, such as human chains, demonstrations, rallies, hunger strikes and self-immolation[1] by a few individuals.

Tamil and other communities across the world had concerns regarding the conduct of the civil war in the island nation of Sri Lanka. The civil war, which took place between the Sri Lankan Army and the separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is believed to have claimed the lives of over 100,000 Sri Lankan civilians.[2] Protesters and critics of the Sri Lankan government alleged the civil war to be a systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Sri Lankan Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.[3] Critics of the protests alleged the LTTE's use of ethnic cleansing as well as such abuses as the use of civilian human shield, child soldiers and terrorism.

The first protests occurred in Chennai and other cities of Tamil Nadu, India in mid-2008 where organizations, politicians, celebrities and student associations raised their requests for the government to intervene and stop the civil war. Following the Tamil Nadu protests, other major protests took place in the vicinities of other Tamil diaspora. Notable protests have happened in the cities of Chennai, London, Toronto, Bangalore, Ottawa,[4] Paris, Washington, D.C., New York City,[5] Berlin, Geneva, Zürich, Oslo, Sydney, The Hague, Canberra,[6] Auckland, Wellington, Copenhagen and Kuala Lampur.[7] The goal of the protests was to persuade organizations and leaders to intervene in the Sri Lankan Civil War and establish a ceasefire, appeal to humanitarian aid organizations to provide resources to the affected areas of Sri Lanka, and help remove the LTTE from any list of terrorist organizations. After the civil war was ended on May 18, 2009, protests continued in a few countries, urging governments to undertake a war-crimes inspection in Sri Lanka.





In Australia, several protests took place in the cities of Sydney and Canberra, Australia. Over a thousand protested during Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama's visit to Australia on October 14, 2008.[8] The protest took place in Canberra outside the National Press Club. The protesters accused the Sri Lankan government alleging attack on civilians and the prevention of UN aid reaching affected areas. In response to the protests, Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith stated that he raised the concern of the violence amid the civil war. He also assured that Australia insists that military means will not solve the problem and that a political solution can only result in the ending of the war.

After several local demonstrations, mostly in Sydney, larger protests were organized within Australia during the month of April 2009, with the most significant one being the non-stop protest in Sydney. As of April, 60 rallies and protests have occurred across Australia.[9]

On April 11, three Australian protesters began hunger strikes, like those concurrently occurring in Canada and the United Kingdom. The hunger strike ended on April 17.[10][11] On April 17, a "March for Peace" took place in Canberra.[12] On April 13, protests took place in front of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's residence in Sydney, urging him to call an immediate ceasefire.[13]

Several hundred protesters rallied in North Sydney urging Joe Hockey, Member for North Sydney, to take the concerns of his constituents to the Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Similar protests occurred on April 22, as over 600 protesters converged outside Julie Owens's office to voice their frustration at the lack of action by the Australian Labour Government in preventing thousands of Tamil civilians from allegedly being killed by the Sri Lankan Military.[14]

A "Boycott Sri Lankan Products" campaign was launched in Sydney during the last week of April. The demonstrations occurred with a few roads being closed down to make way. The protests were paused for ANZAC Day on April 25.[15]


Protesters blocking Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, a major highway in the city on May 10, 2009

Canadian Tamil protests took place in cities throughout Canada simultaneously with demonstrations around the world.

Protesters appealed to leaders, notably Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama to take action towards ending the conflict. The protesters also appealed to the public and the international community to pressure the Sri Lankan Government accept a cease fire in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.

Major protests occurred mainly in Toronto and Ottawa while minor protests were set up in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver as well as many smaller demonstrations in communities and on campuses across the country.


In India, protests took place primarily in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Protests, rallies, human chains, strikes and demonstrations have continuously taken place throughout the South Indian city of Chennai by lawyers, politicians, activists, student groups, celebrities, and many organizations. The aim of the protests was to urge leaders, such as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu opposition J. Jayalalitha, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee to intervene and stop the Sri Lankan Civil War and stop any diplomatic assistance or relations with the island nation.

With regard to sentiments among those deceased in the war, several individuals had self immolated themselves on various days. Those who self immolated themselves were Muthukumar, Murugathasan,[16] Amaresan,[17] Pallapatti Ravi,[18] Gokularathinam, [18] Tamilvendhan, [19] Sivaprakasam,[20] Raja,[21] Ravichandran,[22] Ramu,[23] and Sivanandam.[24]


Norway had acted as a Peace Mediator in Sri Lanka prior to it being asked to leave by the Sri Lankan government of Rajapakse which ended the ceasefire in 2006 after alleging multiple violations by the LTTE. Pro LTTE Tamil communities and organizations within Norway organized large protests including ones outside the Norwegian Parliament[25][26],Prime Minister's office [27] and other parts of Oslo.[28] .There was also Protests outside the Sri Lankan embassy where a few Protesters broke into the Embassy was the first one to turn violent in global Tamil Protests through no one was hurt but cause severe damage to the Embassy of Sri Lanka.[29]. Hundreds of Tamils gathered in Bergen city in Norway. They organized a 48-hour famine protest starting on November 20, 6:00 p.m.[30]

United Kingdom

Protesters in Parliament Square, London in January 2009

These protest was organized by the British Tamil Forum, a prominent Diaspora organisation and a key association organizing of the event.

The first protest in 2009 began on Saturday, 18 January 2009 with around 9000 British Tamils in front of No. 10 Downing Street in London participating in a mass vigil from 3:00 p.m till 7:00 p.m.[31]

There were two major protests in London one in January and one in April. The first protest began on Saturday January 31, 2009[32] which attracted a crowd of around 150,000 Tamils. The protest started at around 10 am but people arrived earlier than expected. The protest lasted till 2pm. The marchers began gathering at 1pm on Millbank, near the Tate gallery. By 2pm the riverside road, which had been closed to traffic was filled and roads leading back to Pimlico and Vauxhall stations were also full of Tamil protesters.

The second protest began on Saturday, 11 April 2009 which attracted more than 200,000 Tamils. This protested started at around 10 am. 3,000 protesters who were at parliament who were already there since 6 April joined the protest to show their support. The protest was started by the second generation diaspora Tamil youth and students with the help of British Tamil Forum and TYO.[33] The protest carried on until night but the non-stop protest carried on.[34]

On 6 April an ongoing protest began, which continued into the middle of May. The aim of protest is encourage British intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War. Two British Tamils, 21-year-old Sivatharsan Sivakumaravel and 28-year-old Parameswarn Subramaniyan, went on hunger strike.[35] On 11 May, the protesters in Parliament Square "spilled through police lines" causing roads to be blocked, with the protesters "noisy but peaceful."[36]

The Daily Mail has alleged that a police surveillance team had been watching the two hunger strikers and that Subramaniyan had been secretly eating McDonald's burgers with the help of clandestine deliveries.[37] Subramaniyan has denied the Mail's allegations, calling them "entirely baseless" and a "conspiracy to defame the Tamil struggle".[38][39] He says he has medical proof and has threatened legal action against the paper.[38] The police have refused to discuss the allegations.[38][39] The Tamil Protests had also left the London police with £7.1million overtime bill.[37] The British Human Rights Act grants everyone the right to gather with others and protest.[40]


The protests have drawn criticism from observers of the conflict in Sri Lanka. In an opinion piece titled "Misguided Tamil protesters" published by the National Post, Martin Collacott, a former Canadian high commissioner to Sri Lanka questioned the objectives of the protesters. In the editorial, he said if the primary concern of the protesters was the safety of Tamil civilians, they would have asked the Tamil Tigers to free those trapped in the war zone instead of using them as "human shields." However by asking for a ceasefire, he said that the protesters want to "bring about a situation that would allow the Tigers to preserve their fighting capability and prolong the insurgency."[41]

Following the blocking of the Gardiner Expressway on May 10, the Mayor of Toronto David Miller condemned their tactics as "wrong," and called the blocking of the expressway "unacceptable."[41][42]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-212746
  2. ^ http://www.welt.de/english-news/article3831743/World-may-never-know-how-many-died-in-civil-war.html
  3. ^ http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/780/40219
  4. ^ http://www.ottawasun.com/News/OttawaAndRegion/2009/04/17/9142006-sun.html
  5. ^ http://www.1010wins.com/Thousands-in-NYC-Protest-Sri-Lanka-Military-Moves/4224128
  6. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/18/2546312.htm
  7. ^ http://www.indopia.in/India-usa-uk-news/latest-news/554313/TamilNadu/2/20/2
  8. ^ http://www.tamilsydney.com/content/view/1465/37/
  9. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/783-sydneys-george-street-to-be-closed.html
  10. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/630-hunger-strikers-in-canberra.html
  11. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/603-fast-unto-acton-australia.html
  12. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/654-march-for-peace-in-canberra-.html
  13. ^ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tamils-protest-outside-australian-pms-house/446407/
  14. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/744-australian-tamils-to-rally-.html
  15. ^ http://www.tamilnational.com/events/australia/764-australian-tamils-pause-demonstrations.html
  17. ^ http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=4&contentid=2009021020090210023332194b2134c4f&sectxslt=
  18. ^ a b http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20090225/1185659.html
  19. ^ http://www.aol.in/tamil/news/2009/02/19/tn-self-immolation-cuddalore-vck-functionary-dies.html
  20. ^ http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=28502
  21. ^ http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=28344
  22. ^ http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=28336
  23. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?issueid=87&id=27790&option=com_content&task=view&sectionid=4
  24. ^ http://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/India/20090417/1229869.html
  25. ^ No more excuses in waging the war - Protestors in Oslo
  26. ^ Eelam Tamils protest against war in Vanni, in Norway, Germany
  27. ^ Tamil supporters protest in London, Oslo
  28. ^ Tamil Protest in City Centre
  29. ^ Protesters break into Sri Lankan embassy in Oslo
  30. ^ http://www.sibernews.com/20081121162.html
  31. ^ http://tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=28055
  32. ^ http://tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=28240
  33. ^ http://www.tamileelamonline.com/en/Apr_11_19:14_-_Two-thirds_of_British_Tamils_march_for_Ceasefire_and_Tamil_Eelam
  34. ^ http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i99-WLWbuW7nyagJUxASZ29ygy2Q
  35. ^ http://www.tamileelamonline.com/en/Apr_10_02:36_-_Tamil_hunger_strikers%27_condition_deteriorates_in_London
  36. ^ "BBC NEWS". news.bbc.co.uk. 2009-05-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8043773.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  37. ^ a b http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1219112/Hunger-strikers-7m-Big-Mac-Tamil-cost-London-fortune-policing-sneaking-fast-food.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0TOadP2Qi
  38. ^ a b c Natarajan, Swaminathan (9 October 2009). "Protest Tamil denies burger claim". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8299935.stm. Retrieved 10 October 2009. 
  39. ^ a b "Tamil hunger striker: I did NOT break my fast Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1219401/Tamil-hunger-striker-I-did-NOT-break-fast.html#ixzz0TYQ0uu44". Daily Mail. 10 October 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1219401/Tamil-hunger-striker-I-did-NOT-break-fast.html. Retrieved 10 October 2009. 
  40. ^ "Right to protest". Government, citizens and rights. Directgov. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Yourrightsandresponsibilities/DG_176761. Retrieved 10 October 2009. 
  41. ^ a b "Misguided Tamil protesters". Martin Collacott (The National Post). 2009-05-13. http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/story.html?id=1590422. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  42. ^ http://www.karygiannismp.com/spip/article.php3?id_article=1101


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