Tamils - a Trans State Nation
Thousands of Tamils defy Paris protest bar
Milliers de barre de protestation de Paris de défi de Tamoul
[TamilNet, Monday, 09 April 2007]
Over 2,000 Tamil expatriates gathered in front of the Eiffel
Tower Monday 9 April 2007, despite the authorities’ cancellation of
a planned protest rally to condemn the arrests by French police of
several Tamil activists for raising funds for the LTTE. The
protestors gathered in nearby public places, blocking traffic.
Although the protest’s cancellation had been publicised on Tamil
radio and television by the rally’s organisers who told expatriates
that permission would be sought anew, several thousand people
converged on the city centre, defying orders to disperse, to condemn
the arrests on April 1, a week after
the LTTE airstrike on Katunayake.
French counterterrorism police simultaneously raided four Tamil
community organisation premises on Sunday April 1 and arrested 19
individuals on accusations of extorting funds which were sent to the
Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The Paris office of the Tamil
Co-ordinating Committee (TCC)was raided in the early hours and
arrests made. There were also arrests of individuals from other
Tamil businesses and organizations.
Amid shock and anger amongst the Tamil community in France, the
Tamil Youth Organization (TYO) there had called for expatriates to
rally in protest at a Paris city-centre location on Monday at 2:00
However, the French authorities had refused to allow the protest to
go ahead as scheduled. The authorities’ cancellation was, reportedly
at their request, widely publicized in Tamil electronic media,
including the Paris based Tamil Television Network (TTN).
Nonetheless, several thousand Tamil expatriates arrived in Paris
Monday to protest.
The organisers – the TYO, the India Sri Lanka Business Chamber in
Paris and Anthony Russell, a Paris councillor - held a press
conference Monday morning at the Novatel Hotel in Paris-12 to
announce the cancellation of the planned protest.
The India Sri Lanka Business Chamber in Paris has more than 250
businesses as members. The protest organizers urged several thousand
people who had taken to the streets to peacefully return and
cooperate with their decision to respect the authorities’ orders.
Over five thousand people were turned back by the organisers and
French Police, according to Tamil electronic media covering
developments in Paris.
But some two thousand protestors had flocked to the Trocadèro square
in front of Eiffel Tower around 3:15 p.m., around 50 meters from the
site where the cancelled rally was to take place at 2:00 p.m.
The protestors also took to nearby public places. In some places
large numbers of people sat on roads blocking traffic. But the crowd
refused to heed orders by the police to disperse. Police were forced
to call on Councillor Russell to convince the angry crowd to
peacefully leave the site and attend a rally that would be announced
at a later date.
Tamil shops in La Chapelle were shut down during the protest time
Following an address by Mr. Russell, the protestors
left the square peacefully at 5:00 p.m. Mr. Russell told French
media that he had 400 Tamil families in his area and none of them
had complained about forcible fund-raising by the TCC.
A spokesperson from the Pondicherry Tamil community, Jean-Marie
Julia (Chevalier) said that the Tamil community has been living in
France for more than 23 years and respected the laws of the country.
The India Sri Lanka Business Chamber chamber released an appeal from
over 120 member business establishments (almost all owned by Tamil
expatriates) in the La Chapelle area supporting the TCC and
rejecting allegations of forcible fund-raising.
"The authorities here have been well aware that the TCC has been
collecting funds for more than 22 years," said Sivaguru
Balachandran, editor of a local Tamil weekly, the Paris Eelanadu.
"The EU ban on the Tigers has been criticized by as having a
counter-productive effect on the peace process in the island of Sri
Lanka. The decision was even criticized by even the former head of
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, who said it was a decision by top
officials, who neglected the ground realities and ignored the
suggestions by the monitoring mission," he said.
"Again, the timing and aggression by the French counter-terrorism
police, five days after the LTTE air-strike on Sri Lanka Air Force
base in Colombo, strongly suggests that [these arrests] have been
carried out on a similar logic," Mr. Balachandran told TamilNet.
At the press conference Monday morning, Ms. Suba, representing the
Tamil Women Organisation and Mr. S. V. Kirubaharan, representing the
Tamil Centre for Human
Rights in France, spoke on the violation of human rights by the
government of Sri Lanka.