Analysis and Advocacy

protestors abused at Sri Lanka-England cricket match

Activists of the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO-UK) organised Tuesday’s protest between 5 and 8 pm as part of their summer-long awareness raising campaign. Activists and supporters positioned themselves at the entrance to the Oval ground, and chanted slogans, distributed leaflets, and chatted to arriving and departing spectators. Others distributed leaflets to commuters at the nearby Oval underground station. Some of the Sinhala spectators confronted the protestors outside the Oval’s entrance, waving Sri Lankan flags and taunting them over the mass killings of Tamils in 2009. Some remonstrated with police who moved them on. “They challenged us to come back to Sri Lanka, saying we’d suffer the same fate [as those who killed in 2009],” TYO activist Jegan (one name) said. Four TYO activists who arrived at the Oval in the afternoon to set up banners and Tamil Eelam flags at the location agreed with police were also confronted by Sinhala youth who spat and swore at them. “They hung around taunting us and being confrontational until the police arrived. Then they demanded the police take down our banners and flags. The police moved them on,” Jegan said. “In response to their abuse, we hoisted another flag on our main flagpole.” Speaking to reporters towards the end of Tuesday’s protest, TYO spokesperson Thusiyan Nandakumar condemned the abuse and thanked police. “This [abuse] exemplifies the problem faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka, who are unable to protest or otherwise express dissent without suffering reprisals,” he said. “Happily, many other Sinhalese understand the Tamils’ protest. As at our previous protests, they have took our leaflets today, as did many England supporters and local residents. We handed out another three thousand leaflets today.” “The police were brilliant. They acted swiftly to move along those making trouble, and upheld our right to protest. On behalf of TYO, I want to express our appreciation,” Nandakumar said. Inside the Oval, despite a sudden thunderstorm that disrupted play, England defeated Sri Lanka by 110 runs. Sri Lankan cricket legend Sanath Jayasuriya’s controversial farewell to his international career ended in disappointing fashion as he made just two runs before being out caught, AFP reported.

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