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Arrest Brigadier Fernando - defend the right to protest
Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity
Tamil Solidarity organised a protest outside Westminster Magistrates' Court on 1 February, demanding the immediate arrest of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando.
Fernando is a war criminal who made a death threat - a throat-slitting gesture - only feet away from peaceful protesters outside the Sri Lankan High Commission a year ago.
Among us were victims of the war which ended in 2009. Fernando was a commander in the forces responsible for the disappearance or murder of over 100,000 Tamils, including by throat slitting.
On 4 February 2018, Tamil Solidarity organised a protest on Sri Lankan independence day. We wanted to expose the hypocrisy of the government celebrating independence while at the same time continuing attacks on workers, minorities including Tamils, and oppressed people in Sri Lanka.
It was during this protest that the then defence attaché made the threat in a bid to silence us. A video of the incident went viral, with more than 76,000 views on the Tamil Solidarity YouTube channel.
Tamil Solidarity activists filed a complaint with the local police. A case was taken up against the brigadier which resulted in Westminster magistrates issuing an arrest warrant, without bail, on 25 January.
However, the warrant was then withdrawn due to pressure from the UK Foreign Office. The reason given is that the brigadier has "diplomatic immunity."
The case has now been reopened, and Socialist Party member Paul Heron, a lawyer and supporter of Tamil Solidarity, is arguing the case for the arrest of Fernando.
Tamil Solidarity demands the release of all political prisoners in Sri Lanka. Also an end to bosses and their politicians in Britain using their court system to protect war criminals.
Socialist Party members took part in the 1 February protest, and highlighted that the actions of Fernando and the withdrawal of the arrest warrant are part of overall attacks on the right to protest.
The fight for democratic rights is linked to the fight against the Tory government and the capitalist system it defends.
The case has been adjourned until 1 March, and Tamil Solidarity and Socialist Party members will be protesting again outside the court - join us.
- Protest: Friday 1 March at 10am, Westminster Magistrates' Court, 181 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5BR
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