Belgium: Solidarity with Student Protests in Tamil Nadu

On Wednesday 3rd April some 50 people gathered in front of the Antwerp central station in a solidarity action with the protest of the students in Tamil Nadu. Almost four years after the official ‘end’ of the war the continuing suffering of the Tamil population of Sri Lanka risks to be forgotten. The students of Tamil Nadu have changed that with the protest they started to organise themselves. They took the struggle in their own hands and received a huge support from Tamils all over the world.

The students in Tamil Nadu have not waited for initiatives from above, from the corrupt political leaders in the different parties who in their response to the student protest doubted between repression and recuperation with symbolic measures and a growing attention on sectarian confrontation.

The youth of Tamil Nadu have taken the initiative in their own hands and have shown the power of mass action. This is an important development that we have to support. It is also an excellent opportunity to discuss what sort of inquiry on the war crimes we need.

The failure of the official ‘international community’ makes it clear we need an orientation to a different international community: the workers movement and poor people. The protest in Antwerp aimed at distributing a leaflet in Dutch amongst a broader public, we also will continue to orientate towards the workers movement and therefore will participate in the big celebration of international workers’ day on 1 May.

In the protest letter from the Active Left Students that was given to the Indian consulate in Antwerp, we raised the need of an independent commission of inquiry made up by workers and poor people from all communities in Sri Lanka and monitored by international trade unions and human rights organisations.

The initiative for the solidarity protest in Antwerp came from Tamil Solidarity and was stimulated by some young Indians originally from Tamil Nadu. The solidarity got a good support from the whole Tamil community. Some enthusiastic youth immediately wanted to go on hunger strike. While we support their determination to take the struggle in their own hands and to be on the side of the Tamil Nadu students, we convinced them to have a well organised collective protest instead of an isolated individual protest with many practical problems (such as the freezing cold weather or the fact that the hunger strike protest didn’t get official permission from local authorities).

The student protest in Tamil Nadu has given a new breathe of fresh air to many Tamils living abroad. With the protest in Antwerp we wanted to show our solidarity with the students and participate in the debate on how to move forward in our struggle for justice.

Geert Cool

Antwerp, Belgium

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