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Historic event as Tamils and trade unions forge vital links
Tamil Solidarity members
A 'Solidarity Day' event organised by Tamil Solidarity and the British Tamils Forum (BTF) on 8 June brought together up to 150 people from the Tamil community, the trade unions, and a number of other campaigns.
This potentially historic event has been widely reported in the Tamil media in Britain and in Sri Lanka.
All participants agreed to do all they could to get the decision to hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Sri Lanka in November reversed. The event also launched a 'join a union' campaign.
Martin Powell-Davies, executive member of teachers' union NUT, said that if Tamils and trade unionists work together, building awareness of the struggle of Tamils and building the trade unions as fighting bodies against all repression, Cameron will live to regret his participation in the Chogm meeting.
Opening rally speakers included representatives of the Day-Mer Turkish and Kurdish community centre, Youth Fight for Jobs, Rape Is No Joke, the NUS, the Committee for a Workers' International and a political activist from Nepal.
Fouz, a Tamil-speaking Muslim from Sri Lanka, explained that the state-sponsored anti-Muslim attacks pose a threat to all Tamils in Lanka.
Vakeesan from BTF opened the second rally, illustrating graphically how the rights of Tamils are being trampled by the murderous Sri Lankan regime. He was followed by leading trade union activists, including from the RMT and Unite.
Hugo Pierre, Unison activist and convenor in Camden schools, drew from his knowledge of following the latest developments and of visiting Sri Lanka in the past.
The previous government of Mrs Bandaranaike had prepared the state machine for a brutal war.
Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), said that 'solidarity' was not just a nice idea but a most powerful weapon in the fight against the international neoliberal consensus that sees the likes of Cameron collaborating with the war criminal President Rajapaksa. "PCS needs to follow the example of other unions and build solidarity with Tamils against repressive regimes and complicit governments." Others echoed this.
Senan, international coordinator for Tamil Solidarity, closed the meeting. He explained that demands such as for the right to self-determination are not offensive against other sections of workers but a vital defence of Tamils' rights.
Tamil Solidarity is fighting for the rights of all workers of all ethnicities. He invited everyone there to participate in debates and discussions on all the ideas raised during the event, in actively opposing Chogm and in the 'join a union' campaign.
Especially among the young people there was a feeling that a big step had been taken in understanding how to fight back.
See www.tamilsolidarity.org for more on the campaign and for union affiliation information.
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