Lankans protest UK rebel backing

COLOMBO: Almost 200 supporters of Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition rallied outside the British Embassy in the Sri Lankan capital today, condemning what they say is London’s support for minority Tamil separatists abroad.

The protesters denounced British Foreign Secretary David Miliband for addressing a meeting in London last week of expatriate Tamils.

Last year, Sri Lankan government forces ended a 25-year civil war, routing Tamil Tiger insurgents who were fighting for a separate homeland on the Indian Ocean island, where Sinhalese make up the majority.

Demonstrators carried posters showing Miliband and British Prime

Minister Gordon Brown

with devil’s horns grafted onto their heads.

The protesters gave the embassy a petition addressed to Brown criticizing Miliband’s actions. They

accuse that Global Tamil

Forum, which organised

last week’s meeting, of

being a proxy organisation for Tamil Tigers.

The forum is made up of expatriate Tamils who lobby in their host countries for the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Britain’s Foreign Office said officials regularly met members of the Sinhalese, Muslim and Tamil communities in the UK. “The UK will continue to engage with all Sri Lankan communities focused on achieving a lasting and equitable peace through non-violent means,” the statement said.

Britain, the island nation’s former colonial ruler,

other EU countries and the US have been critical of

Sri Lanka’s conduct

during the war. Many have called for war crimes investigations into the killing of civilians in the last days of the conflict, but Miliband has often been singled out by Sri Lankan protesters.