Several thousand British Tamils attended a rally organised by British Tamils Forum at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 18 May 2014 to mark the fifth anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. The event commemorated the tens of thousands of Tamil people who were killed, and many more injured, at Mullivaikkal and drew together many of those who spent weeks in Parliament Square in 2009 warning the world of the impending catastrophe.
Speakers at the rally pointed out that, since then, the suffering has continued, and even got worse, for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, as the military has further entrenched its presence in the North and East. Tamil people both at home and abroad have seen their land seized in order to make way for Sinhala settlements, Buddhist temples, and resorts and tourist attractions run by the army. Disappearances have increased sharply; the torture techniques used by the army, both physical and sexual, have been widely documented. Journalism, always difficult, has become nearly impossible; journalists, editors and printing presses have been targeted. Even the freedom to hold remembrance events for this terrible anniversary have been banned in the island – Tamil people cannot even remember their dead without harassment.
However it was also pointed out that, despite all of this, Tamils now have the first glimmer of hope that there could finally be some form of justice, with the UN Human Rights Council mandated independent international investigation an important first step. A number of speakers urged the Tamil diaspora to help bring witnesses and witness testimony to the attention of the investigation, to seize this unique opportunity to set Tamils on the road to justice and, ultimately, freedom.
The sheer number of British Tamils who attended the rally was a clear rebuke to the Sri Lankan government’s recent attempt to criminalise the diaspora by proscribing diaspora organisations such as British Tamils Forum.
The rally was also addressed by a number of prominent politicians from all major UK political parties, including Barry Gardiner MP (Lab), Lee Scott MP (Con), Gareth Thomas MP (Lab), Simon Hughes MP (Lib Dem) as well as campaigner and barrister Hugo Charlton, Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam Mr V Rudrakumaran, and barrister Shivani Jegarajah. Dramas, dances and songs, some performed by children, added to the emotion of the occasion, as they recalled the horrors that unfolded in May 2009 and the grief of the survivors ever since.