Tamils in Britain and Canada vow to sustain Sri Lanka struggle
In both countries, home to large Tamil communities, a new focus on using democratic means to address grievances.
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Young second-generation Tamils have been the driving force behind a largely peaceful occupation of Parliament Square, in front of the House of Commons, although protesters have clashed with police when hundreds of demonstrators attempted to block traffic during peaks in the recent fighting in Sri Lanka.
Scuffles have broken out as police confiscated flags bearing images representing the LTTE (The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), a group outlawed in Britain.
Michael Martin, who resigned Tuesday as speaker of the House of Commons, has accused the protesters of "hijacking" Parliament Square and preventing others from "exercising their democratic duty to demonstrate."
Thusiyan Nandakumar, of Students Against Genocide of Tamils (SAGT), said: "With the fall of the LTTE militarily, the British government has no excuse but to act. They kept calling the Tigers 'terrorists,' but now this is about the plight of thousands of civilians.
"It's true that this has changed us. I know of a lot of people who might have been even anti-LTTE in the past, and even they are talking about taking up guns.... At the same time, people can see that the armed struggle was necessary."
Among those camped outside of Parliament this week was Yalini Naguleashwaran, a teenager who left Sri Lanka with her family at the age of 5 and who has been unable to return because of the war.
"People have been really desperate over the past few weeks, not knowing if their relatives are dead or alive," she says. "We get reports of people going missing from the camps.
"Members of my own extended family were inside the zone and we don't know what has happened to them."
To date, the British government itself has been active on the world stage, calling for a cease-fire in recent weeks between the LTTE and Sri Lankan forces.
But protesters in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, attacked the British High Commission Monday and burned an effigy of David Miliband, the foreign secretary, accusing Britain of supporting the rebels.
Quebec as a model for Tamils?
Across the Atlantic in Canada, home to the world's largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, community leaders are holding up Quebec as a path for resolving Sri Lanka's ethnic problem.