My Week: Bharathy Maheswaran, Tamil protester

A 17-year-old Tamil protester joins the demonstration in Parliament Square against the fighting in Sri Lanka
  • @gillian_orr


I've been protesting in Parliament Square for five weeks urging the British Government to intervene with the Sri Lankan government to bring about a ceasefire.

I sleep on the concrete as we're not allowed on the lawn any more and wake up at about 6am. Thousands of civilians are being killed in the fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. People are not only dying by directly getting caught up in the fighting, but by starvation, lack of medical help. Britain has the power to intervene and they're not doing anything.


People generally start arriving about 6am to meet the ones who have slept overnight. We spend the days chanting, handing out flyers and talking to the media. Some people decide to go on a seven-day hunger strike today. I'm from Sri Lanka and my family and friends are over there. We have no idea where they are at the moment, if anything's happened to them. I can't sleep at night, it's the worst feeling. My father cries every night, not knowing whether his mother is alive or not. We saw them on the Tamil TV recently. They were at a hospital so I hope they are OK. I've not heard from them in three months.


We have a silent protest today, so there is no chanting and we tie black clothes around our mouths. It's to symbolise that we're sick and tired of voicing for our people. The world now needs to speak for them too. The Government is now trying to move us along but we have no intention of going anywhere. If they move us, we'll be back the next day. I take the train back to Kent today to have a shower at home. I do this every other day; quickly have a wash and pick up clean clothes and head straight back.


We chant again today and every three hours we do a two-minute silence out of respect for all the lives that have been lost in the war. It never ends. Even at 3.30am you'll find about 20 people in a bunch together still chanting. We go down to Trafalgar Square and give out flyers to tourists. Then we all march from there to Westminster.


Today we asked everyone to dress in black, and we are handing out black flags to show our sadness at the situation. We are devastated by what's happening at home. From my point of view, it's genocide. We're sad and angry and the world should be ashamed to let this happen. I'm supposed to be doing my A-levels this year, but I'm not doing them because I want to be here. I saw a video of a two-year-old boy die in his father's arms. I have a two-year-old brother and it reminded me of him. It messed with my head. If I go to school, I can't concentrate. I can't pretend what's going on isn't. I can take my exams next year. People at home are losing their lives – I'm only losing my studies.