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Sri Lanka team targeted by protests over government’s Tamil policies

[guardian.co.uk, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 16:13 One Comment]

Not for the first time, Lord’s has become the scene of a political protest. Sri Lankan protestors have been picketing the ground, calling for the country’s cricket team to return home and for other nations to boycott matches against the side.

About 50 London-based Sri Lankans gathered outside the Wellington Road entrance, armed with placards condemning the Sri Lankan government’s "human rights abuses". One read "Sri Lanka‘s latest score: 20,000 dead, 300,000 displaced."

Inside the ground the Sri Lanka team were playing South Africa in a warm-up match for the world Twenty20 tournament, which starts on Friday. The tour has already been beset by difficulties, with members of the team withdrawing from a scheduled appearance at the Oxford Union, because of security concerns about a possible backlash against the team in protest against the military campaign by their country’s ­government against the Tamil Tigers. The protestors at Lord’s were noisy but peaceful, though there was a strong police presence in place. The group was composed mainly, but not wholly, of Tamils.

Thusiyan Naneakumar, a spokesman for the groupprotestors, explained: "The human rights issue is the only issue we are protesting over. The Sri Lankan human rights record is abominable. The government are not letting in any major aid agencies or any major media, there are 300,000 Tamils trapped in camps. How can the team come and play cricket representing a country that does this to its own people?

"Last year England refused to play Zimbabwe because of their human rights record. They refused to play on moral grounds, and we feel it is hypocritical of them to play Sri Lanka, because the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is just as bad, if not worse. That’s why we are making this protest, because we don’t want them here."

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One Comment »

  • fdimul said:

    A good start if the protestors stop the team in playing then it should be a great victory for human cause.