/ languages

Choisir langue

Sri Lanka/France

Tamil protest turns violent in Paris

Article published on the 2009-04-21 Latest update 2009-04-21 14:34 TU

Firefighters put out a truck that was set alight by Tamil protesters in Paris.(Photo: Reuters)

Firefighters put out a truck that was set alight by Tamil protesters in Paris.
(Photo: Reuters)

Two hundred and ten people were arrested and 164 were held overnight after a group of Tamils marching through northern Paris smashed the windows of several vehicles and set at least one scooter on fire, according to police.

Police said that the protestors had no permit for the march, which took place in the area around the Gare du Nord train station. Four people, including one police officer, were wounded during the march, where three buses, two cars and one truck had their windows smashed.

The demonstrators say that the protest was a spontaneous reaction to the Sri Lankan government’s offensive against the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) on Monday.

The marchers chanted slogans such as “French people, react!” and “Mr Sarkozy, help us!” They also handed out leaflets stating that “1,496 Tamil civilians, including 476 children” were killed by the Sri Lankan army on Monday.

Local resident Martin Back says that the demonstration turned violent when a lorry driver broke through an improvised barricade.

"This made a group of people very, very angry," he told RFI. "They ran after the truck, stopped it in its tracks and the driver came out of his vehicle, wielding what looked like a large iron bar.

"But I think he'd underestimated the number of people who were going to be attacking him. A group of about 15 people set onto him and fortunately the police arrived within a minute and stopped it."

Eyewitness: Local resident Martin Back

21/04/2009 by Rosslyn Hyams

Tamils in Paris have been calling on France and the European Union to intervene for several weeks.

The arrests Monday night began around 8pm and by 9pm the area was calm, though there was a continuous police presence through the night.

In Sri Lanka, the government set a 6:30am (Universal Time) Tuesday morning deadline to the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to surrender, without saying what would happen if they didn’t.