Tamils stage anti-Sri Lankan protest in Paris

2nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of Tamil demonstrators protested Saturday against the bombing of civilians in Sri Lanka.

PARIS – Hundreds of Tamils protested Saturday in a northern Paris district nicknamed "Little Jaffna" against the Sri Lankan offensive to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebels and end Asia's oldest ethnic war.

Up to 1,000 protestors according to organisers and about 350 according to the police protested at La Chapelle screaming anti-government slogans such as "Sri Lanka is a terrorist state", "EU react" and "Break the silence!"

"The Sri Lankan government is bombing civilians and nobody is speaking out," said Sutaharsan Ravithas, a demonstrator.

The Sri Lankan military says it is in the final phase of a year-long offensive to wipe out the Tiger guerrillas, who took up arms in 1972. The conflict has claimed at least 70,000 lives.

Saturday night marks the end of a 48-hour deadline set by President Mahinda Rajapakse for the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to allow civilians to leave the small area of the northeast still under their control.

Rajapakse had vowed to then ensure the civilians' "safe passage to a secure environment".

The United Nations says as many as 250,000 civilians may be trapped by the fighting in and around the 300-square-kilometre (110-square-mile) patch of jungle territory near Mullaittivu still in rebel hands.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said eight civilians had been wounded Saturday in military shelling inside the conflict zone.

[AFP / Expatica]

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