In under a month Britons, including the hundreds of thousands of British Tamils, will cast their votes in the UK general election on May 7th.
The British Tamil community, which makes up a significant proportion of voters, particularly in the capital, remain a decisive force in many constituencies.
Days before the final deadline to register to vote, Tamil Guardian asked British Tamil voters how candidate and party stances on Sri Lanka could affect their vote.
NHS doctor, Lourdes Mariathas
“I am very concerned that the push for justice and Tamil rights is in danger of being brushed aside by the international community now that Sri Lanka has a new government.”
“Candidates in the British election must stipulate how they will address certain pressing issues including demilitarisation of the Tamil homeland, an international process for accountability and the Tamil nation’s right to self-determination.”
“The Tamil population on the island has been very vocal in recent months and I expect that any incoming British government will prioritise these voices and not attempt to placate them with token but meaningless concessions made by the Sri Lankan government.”
Student and DJ, Santhuru Murugamoorthy
“I only became old enough to vote in the last election, but I didn’t. It was just after the genocidal events of 2009 and I didn’t believe either party cared about the plight of Tamils.”
“I know there’s been a lot of international and especially British involvement since then, so I want to know that the next government will defend the rights of Tamils in the North-East, take into account their legitimate demands for justice and self-determination, and not give in to small gestures and empty words by the Sri Lankan government.”
Employees of Royal Mail, Hemel Hempstead
“We are proud to be Tamil, and we are also proud to be British, so we will always carry on demanding that our British politicians push for justice for the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Sri Lankan state’s genocide against Tamils.”
“In 2009, we spent many days protesting with our flags in Parliament Square, but our calls to protect Tamils in Vanni were ignored. Any future government can’t make this same mistake.”
“We will vote for the candidates that stand the strongest for justice for Tamils for past events and an acceptable political solution for Tamils’ future.”
Front office consultant in financial software, Selvan Gnanakumaran (PhD)
“I will vote based on which party addresses the issues that affect me directly and the topics that I feel strongly about. Being in the demographic of a young professional, and a Tamil, I am interested in both the national and international policies that the parties have to offer.”
“I will also carefully consider what has been promised in the past and which parties have made good on their promises.”
“Most of the Tamils I know are driven and are ambitious, and, by contributing to society, there is a collective hope that our society benefits us. A crucial aspect of this includes how the U.K. helps those that we care about and this is a necessary condition that would decide my vote.”
Carer and community radio host, Jeyarangini Kumarakurunathan
“I have many friends and family living in the North-East of Sri Lanka, so I have a very clear idea of the suffering and oppression that Tamils still face there.”
“I want candidates to tell me exactly what steps they will take to pressure Sri Lanka into improving the lives of Tamils on the island, and to carry out these steps when they are in power.”