London march and lobby for opponents of Sri Lanka bloodshed

By staff writers
April 11, 2009

One of the two Tamil demonstrators on hunger strike opposite the House of Commons in London has agreed to suspend his fast, reports the BBC. But the protests against the killing in Sri Lanka continue.

Sivatharsan Sivakumaraval, aged 21, and Prarameswaran Subramaniam, aged 28, said they were prepared to die unless the UK government intervened in the war in Sri Lanka.

But Mr Sivakumaraval has suspended his fast for 10 days amid efforts to arrange political talks.

Thousands are to march through central London later today in protest at Sri Lanka's offensive against Tamil rebels, which is also having a devastating impact on civilians.

Humanitarian agencies and the UN are warning of a catastrophe.

Many of the protesters who arrived in central London at 4pm on 6 April have relatives in the country. They say the world and the European governments are turning a blind eye to the killing going on in their homeland.

Organisers say the demonstrations and occupation of Parliament Square, technically illegal but largely peaceful, have already been successful in raising media and public awareness of what is going on.

The Foreign Office and the Prime Minister have also been keeping track of events, both in London and Sri Lanka.

A United Nations human rights expert has warned of a continuing bloodbath in Sri Lanka unless government and rebel forces can stop fighting for long enough to allow tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone to flee.

The civilians are in a precarious position, huddled in a narrow 'no-fire' zone on the island's northeast coast where the rebels are holed up after a series of military defeats at the hands of government troops.

Walter Kaelin, an independent human rights expert and a representative of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said: "It's absolutely necessary to avoid a bloodbath."

Talking to Geneva-based radio station WRS, he continued: "If the Sri Lankan army would try to go into there, if the LTTE would not be ready to let these civilians go, then we'll end up with a bloodbath, and this must by all means be avoided."

Following a four-day visit to Sri Lanka, Kaelin said he urgently called on the rebel movement , which has been accused of using Tamil civilians in the war zone as human shields, "to allow all civilians under its control to leave."

He also urged both sides in the conflict to pause the fighting "to allow civilians to leave" and allow aid workers "to provide life-saving relief to the remaining population."

Keywords:tamil | sri lanka
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