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Tamil protesters block road outside UK parliament

[AP, Monday, 11 May 2009 16:28 No Comment]

capt.be6456273d074226997f25da974a82c6.britain_tamils_lmd101 Hundreds of pro-Tamil demonstrators blocked traffic and clashed with police in the streets around Britain’s Parliament Monday after news filtered out from Sri Lanka that hundreds of their compatriots had died in intense shelling.


Police said Monday evening that 36 people had been arrested and the protesters had been cleared from the roads.


A committed core of Tamil demonstrators has been camped outside Parliament for more than a month to demand that Britain intervene to stem the bloodletting in Sri Lanka, once part of the British Empire.

Rebels there have been fighting for a quarter century to carve out an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils following decades of discrimination by Sinhalese-controlled governments. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, and Sri Lankan artillery attacks over the weekend have killed as many as 1,000 Tamil civilians in the deadliest strikes since civil war flared again more than three years ago.

Placard-toting protesters surged into the street around Parliament on Monday morning, surrounding a bus and snarling traffic. London’s Metropolitan Police said they tried to corral the protesters back onto Parliament Square, a stretch of green in front of Britain’s neo-Gothic legislature, but some demonstrators threw things at them.


Anger over the recent offensive has been felt in North America, too: Tamils blocked a major Canadian highway Sunday to protest the shelling. It was among the latest in a series of international protests intended to keep the Tamils’ plight in the international eye and to pressure Sri Lanka to agree to a humanitarian cease-fire.


In Britain, events have included a march by at least 100,000 people April 11, as well as hunger strikes and at least two attempts by protesters to set themselves on fire. One demonstrator in Switzerland died after setting himself on fire to dramatize the situation.

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