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July 17, 1998

PRESS RELEASE

Peace Rally in Front of the British Embassy in Washington DC.
An Appeal to the British Government to Ban the LTTE from Britain

WASHINGTON-A peaceful protest rally was held in front of the British Embassy, on Massachusetts avenue, Washington DC, on July 17, 1998 from 12 noon to 2.30 p.m., urging the British government to ban the LTTE from Britain. The event was organized by Friends of Sri Lanka in the U.S. (FOSUS). It was attended by dozens of people, who came from Washington suburbs, New Jersey, New York and even Connecticut. A representative crowd of clergyman, both Christian and Buddhists, young office workers, housewives, lawyers, physicians, scientists and academics participated in this peaceful protest against LTTE terrorism. In a moving scene, a wheel-chair bound gentleman insisted on joining the rally, despite the obvious discomfort he felt in coming to the venue of the rally and being on the side of a road with no wheel chair accessibility. The participants carried a banner and a multitude of placards all urging the British government to recognize the LTTE as a terrorist organization and ban its activities from Britain.

A highlight of the rally was the delivery of a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Britain, signed by all the participants of the peace rally. It pointed out that London is the overseas headquarters of the LTTE organization, and indeed, the collection center and the clearing house of funds collected by the LTTE. The LTTE, thus masterminds and finances ruthless acts of terrorism perpetrated in Sri Lanka. The letter addressed the issue of illegal activities that the LTTE is involved, specially in raising funds in Britain. It also showed that achieving peace in Sri Lanka would have very little chance, since the LTTE terrorists are wiping out democratically elected officials among all ethnic groups, killing innocent civilians and destroying property all across the land. The letter appeals to the British government to do what is just and right: ban the LTTE from Britain.

Mr. Kavan Weerasinghe thanked the participants for heeding the call to join the peace rally. Mr. Weerasinghe addressed the crowd highlighting the importance of this rally in urging the British government to ban the LTTE. He pointed out that the British government should not allow the LTTE to abuse the democratic freedoms that people enjoy in Britain. The LTTE, blatantly disregards such democratic freedoms when it uses Britain as its staging post for terrorist activities in Sri Lanka. Professor Vidyamali Samarasinghe spoke a few words and read the letter that was addressed to the Prime Minister of Britain.

Professor Vidyamali Samarasinghe and Dr. Hanry Wagage, as the delegation representing the FOSUS, personally handed over the letter to Mr. Charles Gray, Counselor for South Asia, in the British Embassy in Washington DC. Mr. Gray undertook to deliver the letter to the appropriate authorities and informed the two delegates that the present British government was seriously considering enacting appropriate legislation on international terrorism. Professor Samarasinghe and Dr. Wagage in turn spoke of the importance of recognizing the LTTE as a terrorist organization, and banning its activities in Britain.