Pro-Tamil supporters label Sonia Gandhi a terroristApril 28th, 2009 - 12:34 pm ICT by ANI
London, April 27 (ANI): Supporters of the Sri Lankan Tamils right to self-determination have described Sonia Gandhi, the wife of former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, as a terrorist out to finish the community as retribution for her husband’s assassination allegedly by the LTTE in May 1991.
The description came a day after hundreds of Tamil activists smashed the windows of the Indian High Commission (also known as India House) in Aldwych, London after staging a noisy protest outside the building. A similar attack was carried out on the Sri Lankan High Commission in Hyde Park Corner.Scotland Yard officials said the protests were illegal in an area described as highly residential.
London Metropolitan and Westminster Police confirmed the detention of at least five of the protesters, but later said they were released. Police officials were surprisingly ill equipped; some of them did not even have the traditional batons associated with London’s Bobbies to keep demonstrators at bay.
On Monday, the rowdy crowd pelted stones at the High Commission buildings, forcing the police to remove some of them from the area. Some of the demonstrators were cordoned off at the entry of Basewater Road. The violent pro-Tamil Tiger supporters said that they would be demonstrating in front of the two buildings again on Tuesday. Shouting anti-Indian slogans on Monday, they sought the Indian Government’s intervention for an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka. They also asked New Delhi to force Colombo to call off its winning offensive against the LTTE.
In anticipation of more protests on Tuesday, the police are taking steps to block busy Central London roads near the Indian and Sri Lankan High Commissions.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is due to visit Sri Lanka tomorrow, has been briefed by the diplomats from both missions on the incidents and has been requested to provide adequate security.
According to some television channel reports, the number of protesters outside the missions on Monday 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 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
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,
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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