Tamil protest continues in central London

Thousands of Tamils blocked streets outside the Houses of Parliament today, accusing the Sri Lankan government of disregarding civilians caught up in its war against Tamil Tiger rebels and demanding a ceasefire.

Large numbers of police were deployed to contain the peaceful demonstration after it spilled out from the square in front of Parliament to block several major streets.



Expatriate Tamils have been demonstrating around the world, but London has been a focus as many Tamils blame Britain, as the former colonial power, for denying them a homeland.



Police asked the protesters to unblock roads, but around 2,000 continued to block a main thoroughfare, police said.



Members of Britain's Tamil population - estimated to number around 200,000 - have been demonstrating for two weeks.



Sri Lankan government troops have encircled Tamil fighters in a small pocket in the northeast of the island, and their shelling has raised concerns for the civilians trapped there.



The government today gave the guerrillas 24 hours to surrender after several thousand civilians managed to flee the war zone. The International Crisis Group said a "humanitarian tragedy" was unfolding in the region, with around 150,000 civilians still trapped.



Angry demonstrators in London held aloft banners denouncing the conflict as government-led genocide.



"Hundreds of Tamil people are dying every day, we can't let this go on," said Sayan Selvaratnan, 29, who was given asylum in Britain eight years ago and whose parents remain in the north of Sri Lanka.



Among the Tamil demonstrators is 28-year-old Subramanyam Parameswaran, who has been on hunger strike for 14 days and says he will starve himself to death unless his demands, including a ceasefire and UN intervention, are met.



Protest leaders said they were determined to keep the demonstration going for as long as necessary. Amid their fervour, however, there was also misinformation about the war.



Virtually all those spoken to accused the government of using chemical weapons against the Tamils, although there is no independent evidence of their use.



One man said 1,000 civilians had been killed today alone, while another a few feet away put it at 5,000.



An impassioned woman said she had heard it was 10,000, after government troops forced civilians to walk through a minefield and then gunned down those who refused to do it. Ten minutes later, she returned to say it was actually 20,000 people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine