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Now of course I’m a proponent of free speech, and free expression, but I think I take a dim view of protests that cost me money as a tax-payer.

The UK government has spent something like £8m policing the Tamil Tigers protests that have been taking place in Parliament Square in London, over the past five weeks, and the discovery of this bit of information has annoyed me no end.

Apparently the protestors are angry because of the UK’s lack of action, regarding the rebels, but why the fuck do we always have to be the ones leading the way in trying to solve the problems of other nations?

My main problem with this particular protest is because as far as I’m aware, the Tamil Tigers are actually terrorists, so wouldn’t it be akin to people protesting in favour of Al-Qaeda?

If people are going to protest, then I would suggest that the atrocities going on in Zimbabwe, is probably a worthier reason to protest.

Undoubtedly, there are some worthy causes out there, but surely there has to be some curtailment to the extent of the freedom of expression that we allow to some protestors? Would half the people be out there protesting if they were made to pay a nominal sum for the policing of the demonstrations? I think effing not.

Also, where are the protests in India, one of the largest economies in the world, regarding this matter? They are Sri Lanka’s nearest neighbour, but because of their zero tolerance methods re demonstrations, nobody dare protest over there. It infuriates me no end.

In London, the congestion charging is a pain in the arse, but coupled with diversions here and there due to protestors, it’s enough to drive a person mad.

Anyway, I think people should be able to protest where and where they please, but I do believe that the organisers of some of the more spurious and ambiguous protests should be made to pay.

What say you?

21 Comments »

  • While I believe in the right to protest – I don’t agree when it affects the rights of others especially tax payers who have to foot the bill for damages/chaos. It also pisses me off when legitimate protests are high jacked by rent-a-crowd thugs who use the protest to be destructive. While I agree that organizers should be liable for costs how do they factor the rabble component in and is it really worth protesting if it cuts into funds that should be used for their cause? It’s a conumdrum

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  • Sparkindarkness
    May 25
    11:30 am

    The amount we pay for policing protests is minimal compared to the amount of money we spend policing football matches

    I fail to see how it’s freedom of expression OR a right to protest if protesters are required to pay for the right. I do protest because there are some causes I am passionate about and I firmly believe we have to do what we can to make the world better – but I should pay for the police to attack me?

    “more spurious and ambiguous protests”

    Defined by who? The British government? Oh yes, that’s going to be a good idea. Forget any Iraq war, Afghanistan war, MP’s expenses or any other protests the government disapprove of. Certainly going to be no protests about police brutality.

    And there’s one of logistics. What would you do? Who are the organises? A lot of protests now are viral with people spreading the word but the people with the original idea or who are hubs or communications have no power on who comes or not nor do they have any power over the people who turn up.

    And if you’re charging everyone how do you recognise who is a protester or not? We’ve already seen the police beat and kill one man who was stood NEAR a protest – you want them to judge who is and isn’t a protester so they can demand money?

    I think the idea is a horrendously bad one. It would stifle protest, let the government decide what protests are “worthy” or not (i.e. the ones they agree with) charge some innocent people who are trying to make a difference in the world for things they have no power or control over and hand out more power and dubious discretion to forces that have shown themselves grossly incapable of exercising even the slightest restraint

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  • FD
    May 25
    12:36 pm

    While I get the logic of what you’re saying, and that it’s seductive, I totally disagree – far too simplistic.
    Quite aside from the very good points that Sparkindarkness made, the people protesting have already paid for the protest, because they are taxpayers too.

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  • Anon76
    May 25
    2:10 pm

    From the original article link, I then read all the other articles I could find, and…all the comments posted to them.

    Wow.

    At this point, I will make no judgement as to who is right and who is wrong in the Sri Lanka conflict.

    However, I do see some very serious trouble brewing. These prostests MUST be ended (at least in the manner in which they are being conducted now.) The remainder of the populace is becoming angry, and that anger is festering.

    Soon, the police will be neccessary to PROTECT these protestors. While many individuals will never act on their anger, there are others who won’t be so polite.

    How long before some extremely frustrated person decides to ram a car into the crowd, or opens fire on the crowd?

    The wick is lit, and it must be extinguished.

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  • Taxpayer
    May 25
    4:11 pm

    Instead of wasting 8million policing these idiotic protesters the police could be spending that money to find gun crime, burglaries etc. Britain is not the world’s policeman. We have no influence over Sri Lanka. The Government has called for ceasefire, what else do they expect the UK to do?

    This is not going to make me popular but I have issues with people who come here for whatever reason and then start causing trouble. Yes what is happening in Sri Lanka is bad but there are a lot of bad things going on in the world. Is Britain supposed to intervene – forcibly in every single one of them?

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  • Taxpayer
    May 25
    4:14 pm

    the people protesting have already paid for the protest, because they are taxpayers too.

    Rubbish. Vast majority of them appear to be asylum seekers and students. People who don’t contribute anything except a bill to the State.

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  • Sparkindarkness
    May 25
    4:31 pm

    Sad to see that the old values of stereotyping, sweeping assumptions and borderline racism are alive and well

    Exactly how does one recognise an asylum seeker by appearance? Or are we just assuming from skin colour here?

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  • Anon76
    May 25
    4:51 pm

    How did I know the racism card would be pulled? Because it is typical.

    People like taxpayer are becoming angry because this is the “face” they see of the Talim people. This is the “face” being presented to them. Which is why these protests must be controlled in some manner. People who would never normally think of themselves as prejudiced are becoming so.

    I’m a white woman in the US. Would I be up in arms if the Ku Klux Klan was allowed to do what is happening in the UK now? You betcha. But hey, they are my same skin color, so I should be good with it, right? Nope, not ever.

    Race is becoming an issue because the protesting group is not under control and pissing on everyone else’s rights.

    Again, this is a wick lit and must be put out.

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  • Sparkindarkness
    May 25
    6:08 pm

    I’m sorry – I should assume that taxpayer has the psychic ability to rescue refugees from photographs?

    “People who would never normally think of themselves as prejudiced are becoming so.”

    And the victims of such prejudice are to blame for people being racist?

    Frankly these protests are no more extensive – considerably less so, in fact – than the anti-war protests

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  • Apparently the protestors are angry because of the UK’s lack of action, regarding the rebels, but why the fuck do we always have to be the ones leading the way in trying to solve the problems of other nations?

    I’m kind of perplexed as to what these protestors expect the UK government to do? Are they supposed to swoop in with guns blazing and impose their will in regard to internal matters, on a nation that’s been independent for the last 60 years? How are they to do that without being accused of bullying, or perhaps worse, renewed aspirations toward colonialism?

    We’ve seen what happens when strong nations impose their own political agendas on other countries. Even when military aid is requested by the nation in question, it invariably turns into a debacle. Viet Nam, anyone? Iraq?

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  • Anon76
    May 25
    8:00 pm

    Sparki, please elaborate on this:

    “And the victims of such prejudice are to blame for people being racist?”

    because I’m so not getting your point.

    You were the one who said “sad to see that the old values of stereotyping, sweeping assumptions and borderline racism are alive and well.”

    I’m willing to listen to your viewpoint but could you please clear it up a bit. I don’t find prejudice and racism as the same animals in my humble mind.

    I find racism to be a very broad stroke, while prejudice is more distinctive.

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  • Karen Scott
    May 25
    8:08 pm

    @Sparkindarkness: Don’t the home team pay for police on matchdays? In my town, the main footie club pays for policing inside and outside the grounds, and this extends into the town, when it’s a local derby. London is a problem because it’s so vast, but the London clubs certainly pay for all the policing within the grounds, and the police recoup some costs for the policing undertaken outside.

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  • Sparkindarkness
    May 25
    8:35 pm

    Anon:
    The fact that people who don’t think of themselves of prejudiced find themselves becoming so – I do not see this as a fault of the people they are prejudiced against

    My previous point was that Taxpayer some how manages to pick out refugees just by looking at their appearance – stereotyping and prejudice.

    Karen:
    Not close to the amount it actually costs, even when they do get a contribution. Certainly not round here, sadly

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  • Annoyed Canadian
    May 25
    10:18 pm

    They’re doing the same thing here in Toronto. Then, when the government officials they wanted to speak to showed up, they complained that he didn’t have the right power.

    Worse, while shutting down a major highway for an entire weekend, at the front of the line? Women and children. The men were cowering in the back.

    All I have to say is if I, as a Canadian expat in Sri Lanka, tried to protest there about something going on back in Canada, I’d be shot on sight.

    So how is this a) a good thing and b) going to solve any problems? And why should we have to pay for it?

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  • Sparkindarkness
    May 26
    3:33 pm

    As to costs: I pay for a lot of crap with my tax money I’d rather not. Wars, police who cover their epaulettes and wear balaclavas to hide their faces when they commit crimes. MP’s expenses that are beyond ludicrous. Vast bailouts for incompetent bankers while they rake in millions of pounds in pensions and benefits. I could go on all day.

    It’s part of the nature of taxes that some of our money will go to places we don’t agree with or support. Frankly, when it comes to wasted tax money the cost of policing protests is WAAAAAAY down my list of irritations

    And the second problem I see here is people are disliking this particular protest

    But if you’re saying that governments can and SHOULD suppress protests whether by outright banning and restricting them or by charging fees for them (or punitive damages against nebulous organisers) then it won’t just be the protestors that you don’t like. It will be all protests that the GOVERNMENT doesn’t like.

    I don’t like the Tamil Tigers. I think the Tamils have a lot of legitimate grievances against the Sinhalese but I also think that the way the Tigers operated was atrocious and that their leader was just a petty dictator using his people’s pain for his own ends

    But, if we accept and create the mechanisms to suppress the Tamil protests then we have to live with that. Which means if we have another anti-war protest or a protest against government expenditure or a fuel price protest or ANY kind of protest – well the mechanism to suppress, crush, disband or penalise them will now exist.

    If you’re talking about quashing dissent it can’t just be in the specific instance. Because once you’ve accepted government with the power and APPROVAL to do so they will use it when they want to – not just when you want them to (and that’s putting aside for the moment if we, as individuals, should be the ones to pick and choose which causes are just)

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  • veinglory
    May 26
    10:58 pm

    I think they are expecting the UK to do something, anything, even just a symbolic act. I don’t think a protest is spurous just because it only involved the lives and freedom of foreigners. If such actions were happening to British people I would hope that other nations would at least try to help. Amnd that if their governments stood by and did nothing, that they would protest.

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  • scribina
    May 30
    6:32 pm

    hi.. i am indian and wanted to clear up some lines about the “zero tolerance” on demonstrations here. It is as far as from the truth as possible, that it’s not funny.
    in fact, we have an entire state in south india which is called tamil nadu – which obviously means that tamils are a majority there. THough, these are Indian tamils and share a cultural similarity and kinship with Sri Lankan tamils.
    leave alone demonstartions, at one time, we had lawyers rioting on the tamil issue in the courts at one time. It was a issue raised again and again in the recently held parliamentary elections in the state.
    then, the chief minister of the state (the top executive) went on a hunger strike asking that the central government should put pressure on sri lanka to stop the military offensive against the sri lankan tamils.
    Also, the reason for the demonstrations in london and toronto is that they have a large sri lankan Tamil diaspora, which India doesnt have
    The relation between india, sri lanka and tamils is long, complicated even to be assumed in a few words.
    and by the way, we take our right to protest very very very seriously. now that the parliament season is going to start, the central part of the capital city is going to be a traffic nightmare, as all competing pressure groups hold their demonstrations in the roads leading to the parliament.

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  • scribina
    May 30
    6:48 pm

    a few links if you want to verify the protests in india

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7901301.stm
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/ktjdx3
    http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20090409/814/tnl-tigers-cornered-in-lanka-tn-parties_1.html
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSBOM430951
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/n954te

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  • chano
    January 15
    9:22 pm

    nowdays people forget the history, do you remember the british empire, well the britain caused all these problems. why did they get involved and then run away, why did britain gave the government power to sinhalese, where tamils where they. Then what happened was, sinhalese hates tamil people, so started to kill them. If u apply for a job, a sinhalese would mostly get it in sri lanka, because they hate tamils. Thats what the tamil tiger leader did, when he studied at college, he was fed up, so he made a group of students to against it, and started a rebel, all they wanted an independent country for tamils and rights, they are not terrorist, we only attack sri lanka not uk, usa.ok
    we want to live, not died, britain started this up

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  • Tamils
    April 10
    8:57 am

    Reading everyones comment, saying why should the government get involved. Coz they supplied money and arms to the government, why should UK get involved in the middle east coz they have resources such as oil, drugs (medicine), why do they get involved within days when there is war in Syria, Egypt, etc. When their own people have not protested, while in many countries the Tamils have for the discrimination of Tamils. No terrorist will have this many people all over the world, people know what’s wrong and right so they protested. We have so many evidence yet they do not get involved. At least stop trading with Sri Lanka, stop supplying them, isolate them. All UK cares is about themselves and no one else, they only go to war if they can benefit not for the sake of peoples freedom

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  • Tamils
    April 10
    9:05 am

    Also can you explain the definition of terrorist, is those who fights for rights, is it those who kill any people to be in power. Tamil tigers have not even killed anyone execpt within Sri Lanka and India when they got involved and fled. Tamil tigers have long gone trying to make peace, check the internet where they tried talk to western countries such as Norway but coz they had no power of the government due to British Empire giving it to those who hated Tamils they weren’t recognised. Why would Tamil Tigers create their own police force for the sake of the people due to the corrupted government. UK will not get involved because they don’t see any benefit for them. Its like US and Uk getting involved in Korea, helping south Korea because they can benefit by avoiding missiles from north Korea to hit US using south Korea as a battlefield if war starts. Think it about

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