Tamil protests underway in Oslo

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Members of the Tamil community in Oslo, Norway are demonstrating in protest of the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka. The protests are taking place peacefully on the grounds in front of the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament.

Tamil demonstrators at the Storting on Monday.
Image: Alejandro Decap.

The demonstrators are supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), popularly known as the Tamil Tigers. They criticised the Sri Lankan governments handling of Tamil civilians in the war zone in northern Sri Lanka and are attempting to get the Norwegian government to intervene diplomatically in the conflict to stop the Sri Lankan government from putting civilians at risk.

The peaceful demonstrations come the day after Tamil protesters stormed the Sri Lankan embassy in Oslo. In response, this morning the Sri Lankan government refused to let Norway continue its mediating role in the decades-long Sri Lankan Civil War; the Norwegian government, in response, has said its role in bringing the two sides to the table ended in 2006. The protest leaders have apologized for the invasion of the embassy.

The Norwegian government has given the demonstrators permission to demonstrate until Friday, but they are forbidden from staying all day or from camping on the Storting grounds.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared a two-day cease-fire in government operations against the LTTE, the largest group fighting against the government, on Monday for the Sri Lankan New Year, to allow civilians to leave the combat zone. Tens of thousands of civilians, many displaced by the war, are in the combat zone.

The LTTE has been campaigning violently for an independent homeland for the Tamil people in northern Sri Lanka since 1976. The Sri Lankan government has recently enjoyed a string of military successes against the LTTE, who have been driven out of all major towns they once controlled. The Sri Lankan government has stated it believes that there are now only 500 LTTE fighters remaining, intermingled with civilians in the Jaffna Peninsula.


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