Hundreds of pro-Tamilian Activists Attacked Indian High Commission in London

Monday, April 27, 2009

LONDON - Hundreds of Tamilian activists have smashed all the windows of the Indian High Commission (also known as India House) in Aldwych, London after staging a noisy protest outside the building. Five pro-Tamil protesters have reportedly been taken into custody.

Over 400 protesters have been demonstrating outside the Indian High Commission since 8 a.m. local time, shouting anti-India slogans and condemning New Delhi for not pressuring the Sri Lankan Government to halt its hostilities against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). According to some television channel reports, the number of protesters outside the mission was closer to 3000.

The protesters belong to several pro-LTTE groups and are carrying simultaneous protests over New Delhi’s failure to secure the release of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians stuck in a small strip of land. They squarely blamed the Indian and Sri Lankan Governments for the current plight of Tamils in the island-nation.

The rabid and strong anti-India sloganeering is being carried out right under eyes of London’s Metropolitan Police, which has failed to stop the protesters from damaging the property. The police said they were unable to counter the assault on the diplomatic mission due to a lack of manpower. They said they have called for the riot police, but even five hours after the commencement of the protests, they were yet to arrive.

Reports said that Indian diplomats are button holed inside the High Commission premises and see no hope of getting back to their homes by this evening.

Earlier in the day, three to four protestors broke into the building through the visa department. They demanded that the Indian Government force Sri Lanka to call off its offensive against the LTTE, which they claimed has resulted in huge loss of life and damage to property belonging to Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Some of the agitated protestors were escorted out of the building, but the situation is said to be going out of control. It is not known yet whether any formal charges have been filed against the intruders.

The protests in London came as the Sri Lankan Government instructed its troops not to use heavy weapons or air strikes against Tamil Tiger rebels in the northeast of the country.

The statement said the army would focus on trying to rescue civilians, as international concern has been rising over civilian deaths.

The rebels and the Tamil civilians are boxed in to a shrinking patch of land.

The statement from the office of the president said combat operations in the civil war between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels had “reached their conclusion”.

“Our security forces have been instructed to end the use of heavy calibre guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons which could cause civilian casualties,” the statement said.

“Our security forces will confine their attempts to rescuing civilians who are held hostage and give foremost priority to saving civilians.”

However, the pro-rebel TamilNet web site reported that air strikes are continuing since the announcement.

It quoted the head of the Tigers Peace Secretariat, Seevaratnam Puleethevan, as saying that bombers had targeted civilians in Mullivaaykkaal.

No confirmation of the reports is possible, as independent journalists are not allowed in the war zone.

A government-run television station has broadcast images said to show the army helping civilians

Earlier on Monday, Sri Lankan troops launched a pre-dawn attack on Tamil Tiger-held areas in the northeast.

A military spokesman confirmed that troops were firing, but said they were doing so in self-defence.

On Monday, Tamil Nadu’s 85-year-old Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, 85, went on a five-hour-long hunger strike that forced the Sri Lankan Government to declare a temporary cease-fire.

Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil community has close cultural, religious and business ties with more than 50 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu.

The UN’s top humanitarian official, John Holmes is in Sri Lanka and has demanded more access to civilians affected by the fighting.

British, French and Swedish foreign ministers will visit Sri Lanka on Wednesday,

“I will be visiting Sri Lanka on Wednesday, 29 April, together with my French and Swedish counterparts,” Miliband said in a statement on Sunday.

“My priority will be to address the humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka and the continuing grave risk to civilians in the conflict zone.”

The UN says some 50,000 civilians remain trapped in a government-designated no-fire zone, but the army puts the number at 15,000.

The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority since 1983.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war, but that figure could now be far higher because of intensified fighting in recent weeks. (ANI)

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