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President Thwarts The Diaspora Protest

Nov 30, 2010 5:35:22 AM - thesundayleader.lk

By Faraz Shauketaly

200 Protestors at Heathrow miss the Presidential entourage

President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived at London Heathrow Airport approximately two hours later than scheduled and dissappointed a number of LTTE-supporters who had gathered to protest.

The waiting protestors – numbering about 200 people – laid in wait for the Sri Lankan presidential entourage in the arrivals hall at Terminal 4 Heathrow. The President and his entourage were of course afforded VIP treatment as befits a Head of State and exited away from the hustle and bustle.

The Police and airport security tried their best to quieten the absolute din that the LTTE supporters were making inside the arrivals area. An arriving passenger said, “it is disgraceful. Passengers coming off a flight can do without all this rubbish. The Police should move them away.” A London mini-cab driver said, “they are breaking the law. They cannot simply loiter here let alone have protests. The Police should come down hard on this sort of thing.” A Sri Lankan family who had come to meet a relative said, “look at this! It shows doesn’t it that most of these protesters are supporters of the LTTE. Look at how many of their flags they have brought. All this about peace is a sham. With peace in our country they should all go home.” Priya added that she and her husband were both born in Britain and Britain was their home. A student from Trincomalee said, “it is important for us to protest. President Rajapaksa must be held to account for what happened in the war.” Was it because the LTTE lost I wondered. “Not at all both sides must be investigated.”

The President is expected to be in Britain for six days on what is essentially a private visit. He will address the prestigious Oxford Union Society on December 2nd – the same day that Sir Ranulph Fiennes the acclaimed explorer will also address the Union. The First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and some others are due to arrive in London today. (FS)