Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tamil Petition and Full Council this week

Last Wednesday was full council. I handed in a petition to the Mayor and the local MPs signed by 428 residents calling for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. (Picture shows Darren and me with local Tamil residents outside the town hall before the meeting). I'm not suggesting the Mayor of Lewisham has the power to achieve world peace (though it would be nice if he did), and realise it was a gesture more than anything, but I was keen to do something to support local Tamil residents and shopkeepers, given who concerned they all are about what is going on in Sri Lanka. Many of them have either lost relatives in the conflict or have lost contact with family members since January, when the violence escalated. The petition read:

"We, the undersigned residents of Lewisham are alarmed at the escalating violence in Sri Lanka and the deaths of many civilians over the past few months. We note the grave concerns that many Tamil residents of the borough have for friends and relatives caught up in the conflict zone.

"We call upon the Mayor of Lewisham and Lewisham's MPs to write to the government and urge it to work to secure an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka and for the free and unrestricted flow of food, medicine and international aid agencies into the conflict zone. "

There was a similarly worded motion proposed by Whitefoot councillor Pete Pattisson, which received cross-party support.

Wednesday was a busy night for motions, as there were 6 on the agenda, although one was withdrawn.

I proposed a motion calling on Lewisham's 3 MPs to support the Fuel Poverty private members' bill currently in parliament (Jim Dowd to his credit supported this, but Joan Ruddock as junior climate change minister talked it out, while Bridget Prentice was absent). The Mayor spoke against, arguing it would commit the government to spending lots of money on insulating houses (yes, that's the point, we want the government to spend money on that, rather than Trident and helping people buy new cars) and Labour all voted against, but it was supported by the Greens, Socialists and Lib Dems and just passed, despite an indecisive Tory failing to vote either way. Lib Dem Cllr Philip Peake had proposed a similar motion, but withdrew it and supported ours (thank you!).

Other motions included one proposed by Socialist councillor Chris Flood condemning the way Network Rail has been destroying the green corridor through New Cross and Brockley in recent months, and calling on the Mayor to contact them as a matter of urgency to ensure the area is replanted with saplings. Mike proposed a few minor amendments to correct a bit of terminology and to add a bit about enhancing biodiversity, but we were happy to support this, and it was passed unanimously.

We also supported a Labour motion calling for a new station at Surrey Canal Road as part of the East London line phase 2 works, and a Lib Dem motion on the NHS, expressing concern at any proposals to end 'co-terminosity' (this was a new term for me, but means when areas covered by a primary care trust are the same as the local authority boundaries. Seems to make sense to me, particularly in order for proper scrutiny of service provision to take place).

Well that's my review of Wednesday's Council meeting, in a nutshell, albeit somewhat tardier and less concise than the Twitters from Lewisham Central councillor Andrew Milton).


Mango said...

Did your tiny Green mind wonder how many of these Lewisham-based Tamils financially and actively supported the murderous LTTE?

No? I didn't think so.

Now that their terror group's been decapitated, they're whining about losing the opportunity to create a mono-ethnic statelet in Sri Lanka.

Given that you seem to support a group of brown-skinned people wanting to create an ethnically exclusive area in Sri Lanka, I expect you to support a group of white-skinned people wanting to create an ethnically exclusive area in the UK, the BNP.

Sue said...

Mango, I don't think it's me with the blinkers on in this case. I don't doubt that funding for the LTTE has come from some of the Tamil diaspora the same as it did from the Irish diaspora for the IRA during the Northern Ireland conflict.

I don't condone this and I wouldn't support arms sales to either side in this conflict - both have clearly committed human rights abuses and killed civilians.

As was the case in Northern Ireland, the only way to build lasting peace is through negotiation, not trying to bomb each other into oblivion.

The wording of the petition didn't take sides, but was very clearly about calling for both sides to respect human rights and to allow aid agencies into the area to help civilians caught up in the conflict. What could you possibly object to about that?

Your comment about the BNP is trite nonsense.

Mango said...


In this interesting Green moral universe you inhabit, when two sides are at war, are both sides equally to blame?

Or is it possible that one side should not be allowed to win?

The 'ceasefire' petition call was nothing more than the typical LTTE front organisations tactic trying to prevent their organisation's destruction in Sri Lanka.

The Govt offered full ceasefire if the LTTE gave up arms. Guess what? The LTTE were not willing to give up their arms.

My issue with this absurd petition is precisely the fact that your political party, now assisting the remnants of the LTTE, did not take sides.

Why? Lack of clarity about which side needs to be defeated?

And back to your favourite terrorist front organisation, The British Tamils Forum.

I particularly enjoyed their tribute & memorial to LTTE Black Tigers, their elite corp of suicide bombers. Its called Pongu Thamil and it was held at Roehampton Vale in SW13, in July 2008.

Perhaps you could offer to hold it in Ladywell in 2009?

I presume there'll be fewer Tamil suicide bomb missions to celebrate. You could even be the guest of honour.

If you can't make it, try and get this lady to attend. She's Adele Balasingham, the Aussie widow of the LTTE's UK rep.

You'll really like her. Her speciality was using feminism to recruit girls to become suicide bombers. They were called 'Freedom Birds'.

This is the thing with the LTTE. They're so depraved, its hard to know where to stop.

It seems that the Green Party doesn't even know where to start.