Tamil political activists in Britain are preparing to conduct a massive protest demonstration on Thursday June 20th 2013 when Sri Lanka plays against India in the Champion Trophy cricket semi-final at the Welsh SWALEC Stadium also known Cardiff Wales Stadium.
Tamil organizations such as the Tamil Youth organization of UK, British Tamil Forum, Tamil Coordinating Committee are joining forces to stage a huge ten hour demonstration from 9 am to 7pm under the aegis of the “Boycott Sri Lankan Lanka Cricket” movement at Cardiff in Wales.
Buses have been arranged to provide free transport to and from Cardiff for those wanting to participate from various locations in England such as London,Coventry, Birmingham,Nottingham,Manchester and Liverpool etc.
The Boycott Sri Lankan Cricket movement demands that the UK and other Cricket playing nations must boycott Sri Lanka and not engage in Cricket matches with the Island nation until and unless there is an independent international investigation into genocide of Tamils and related war crimes allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces and Government.
Although organizers have explicitly stated that the Cardiff demonstration does not seek vengeance ,the extraordinary efforts taken to mobilise a huge crowd indicates that the move is a retaliatory measure of sorts to prove a point relating to an ugly incident that occurred at the entrance of the Oval on Monday June 17th 2013.
The International Cricket council is currently conducting the 2013 one day international cricket tournament for the Champions ICC trophy in England and Wales.
Video by TamilGuardian
The Boycott Lanka movement has been demonstrating during matches played by Sri Lanka during the tournament.Activists carrying flags and banners with the tiger symbol made famous by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE)organization engage in a picketing campaign at a designated spot after obtaining Police permission.
The Tamil activists brandishing tiger flags seek to justify their conduct by claiming that the flags are the national flags of “Tamil Eelam” and not of the LTTE.Others however perceive them as LTTE or pro-LTTE Tamil activists.The demonstrators carry placards and also distribute leaflets during demonstrations.
The protest demonstrations however have failed to attract large crowds during the current Champions tournament.A large number of Tamils in Britain have been spectators at matches played by Sri Lanka ignoring boycott calls by fellow Tamils.
The remarkable resurgence and match winning performances by the Angelo Mathews led Sri Lankan team is a source of pride to most Sri Lankans and those of Sri Lankan origin regardless of ethnicity or religion.
The match on Monday where Sri Lanka triumphed over Australia and earned the right to enter the semi-final against India in Cardiff was a day of immense satisfaction and joy to all Sri Lankan Cricket lovers.Patriotism peaked!
It was against this backdrop that an ugly fracas occurred at the Oval entrance. Groups of Sinhala speaking persons with the lion flag got into a confrontation with the demonstrators carrying tiger flags.Abuse was hurled and objects thrown. There were scuffles and a few were allegedly assaulted.
The Tamil demonstrators were in a clear minority and were outnumbered by the Sri Lankan “patriots”. Although the Police did try to maintain law and order the peace was breached by many who attacked and attempted to attack the demonstrators.Had it not been for the London cops , violence on a large scale may very well have taken place
Video by TamilGuardian
While the Boycott demonstration angers and hurts many Sri Lankans on one side of the ethnic divide ,the clash has hurt and angered many Tamil political activists. They perceive the incident as a tremendous “insult to Tamil pride”.
A widespread media campaign is currently underway to project the incident as an attack on beleaguered Tamils by an oppressive Sinhala majority. As is customary the Sri Lankan Govt and its agents are being accused of masterminding the attack.
The incident is being portrayed as an example of the Sinhala majority’s intolerance and hatred towards Tamils even on foreign soil.
At the same time Tamils are being made to feel guilty for not participating in large numbers at the Boycott demonstration.They are being told that had there been a larger crowd the Sinhalese would not dared to have attacked them. The nature and extent of the incident is exaggerated and depicted as an insulting attack on Tamils.
As such Tamils are being requested to make amends for the Oval debacle by flocking in large numbers to Cardiff and prove a point by expressing solidarity with the Tamil cause.This would be the perfect answer to the Oval incident. The idea is to prop up sagging political morale by mobilising a large crowd.
The Oval fracas has come as manna from heaven to the Boycott Sri Lanka Cricket Movement which was finding it extremely difficult to get people to participate in demonstrations. Given the struggle to get enough demonstrators in London ,it was very likely the Cardiff demonstration could have turned into a miserable failure had not there been a fracas at Oval. Now emotions are being whipped up to assemble a massive crowd in Cardiff.
Although organizers have explicitly stated that the demonstration is not one seeking revenge and have ruled out any violence the British law enforcement authorities are not likely to take any chances. An increased Police presence is anticipated in Cardiff.
It remains to be seen as to whether the planned Boycott Sri Lanka Cricket Demonstration at Cardiff would be a success or not and whether violence would erupt on the 20th.
Meanwhile all lovers of Sri Lankan cricket including myself hope and wish that the Sri Lankan team continues with its winning spree and defeats India at the semi final thereby entering the Champion Trophy Final.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at ~ firstname.lastname@example.org