Tamil protests against Rajapaksa in UK; speech cancelled
London: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was on Wednesday forced to cancel his speech at the Commonwealth Economic Forum here, amid demonstrations by hundreds of Tamil and human rights activists protesting against human rights violations in his country.
Hundreds of Tamils and human rights activists carrying LTTE flags gathered outside Marlborough House in central London protesting Rajapaksa's presence at a lunch for Queen Elizabeth hosted by Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma.
Rajapaksa was jeered as he arrived through the main gate, his car not carrying a flag because of security concerns, the BBC reported. Angry demonstrators shouted slogans against Rajapaksa and burnt his effigy.
Earlier, the Commonwealth Business Council said it has cancelled Rajapaksa's speech "after careful consideration."
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said it had agreed to guarantee the President's security but the CBC had "decided it was not in their interest to stage the event" because of the extent of the policing required and the likely disruption to the city of London.
Similar demonstrations by pro-LTTE groups in December 2010 had forced the cancellation of a lecture to be delivered by Rajapaksa at the prestigious Oxford university union.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Sri Lankan government today said that Rajapaksa, who is taking part in the jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II, was greeted with counter demonstrations by pro-government and pro-LTTE groups.
The two groups of demonstrators had gathered near Rajapaksa's hotel at Park Lane in London.
"President Rajapaksa went upto the pro-Sri Lankan protesters ignoring the large number of shouting pro-LTTE demonstrators," the statement said.