Tamils in the UK marked the 60th anniversary of Sri Lankan independence Feb. 5 with a hundreds-strong protest at Downing Street demanding “real freedom” and “real rights” for the Hindu minority on the island. That same day, at least 14 were killed in two roadside bombings in Sri Lanka. In his independence day address to the nation, President Mahinda Rajapakse said the “challenge bestowed upon us by history is the defeat of terrorism,” and government forces had cornered the Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. His government recently ended a 2002 cease-fire with the rebels. The protest was called by the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO), while the British Tamils Forum held a photo exhibition near parliament on “the past 60 years of oppression, ethnic cleansing and discrimination that…the Tamil community has faced at the hands of the sovereign state of Sri Lanka.” The Sri Lankan government protested the protest, charging it was organized by AC Shanthan and Golden Lambert. Both men have reportedly been arrested in the past under UK anti-terrorist laws and are believed to be out on bail. “Sources” cited by the Times of India said the two are “prominent fund-raisers” for the Tamil Tigers.
AFP reports that seven students and their baseball coach were among those killed in a suicide bombing at a train terminal in Colombo Feb. 3, the eve of Sri Lanka’s Freedom Day. In the northeastern Weli Oya region, a Freedom Day bomb attack on a civilian bus left 14 dead and 15 injured, while a roadside bomb elsewhere in the country left a solider dead.
See our last post on Sri Lanka.