Page last updated at 20:18 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 21:18 UK

Six arrests at Tamil London demo

Tamil protesters at Westminster
Negotiations between police and protest leaders are continuing

Six people have been arrested during clashes between the police and Tamils who are staging an ongoing protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

Scores of police officers boxed in hundreds of demonstrators to move them off the roads and into Parliament Square, sparking minor scuffles.

Some needed medical attention for minor injuries and a man is in hospital after jumping into the Thames on Monday.

Protesters want the UK government to act to end war in Sri Lanka.

Illegal protest

The Metropolitan Police say at its height around 3,000 protesters took to the streets of central London, but numbers later fell to around 1,000.

Police tackle protesters at Westminster

Angry protesters have been chanting and waving banners, and there has been some pushing and shoving.

After one surge, three people were taken away on stretchers after cans and a stick were thrown, according to reports.

A police spokesman said officers were continuing to negotiate with protest leaders to "avoid having to make a huge number of arrests".

He said they had issued "repeated requests" for flags bearing images representing the Tamil Tigers - a proscribed organisation in the UK - to be removed.

'Urgent ceasefire'

The police said two protesters were held on suspicion of carrying a flag supporting a proscribed organisation, under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Police made four other arrests, one for violent disorder, one for breach of the peace and two for public order offences.

A second man jumped into the Thames on Tuesday morning, but was quickly recovered, say police.

These are people who have relatives and friends in Sri Lanka; people who have lost brothers and fathers and sisters
Suren Surendiran
British Tamils Forum

The UN says 150,000 people are trapped in Sri Lanka's northern war zone while Tamils claim they are victims of human rights abuses.

Sri Lanka's government has rejected calls for a ceasefire with the Tamil Tiger rebel group, which wants independence.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband insisted the UK government was "very concerned" about civilians caught up in fighting in Sri Lanka and the need for a humanitarian ceasefire was now "even more urgent".

Meanwhile, a diplomatic row blew up over Mr Miliband's recent comment that he was disappointed Sri Lanka had rejected the appointment of former defence minister Des Browne as a special envoy.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said Britain had failed to adhere to the time-honoured diplomatic practice of consultation.

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

The illegal protest has been going on outside Parliament since 1600 BST (1500 GMT) on Monday and there are reportedly no immediate plans to end it.

Suren Surendiran, of the British Tamils Forum, said the protest had been led by students, but that people of all ages from across the UK had joined in.

"These are people who have relatives and friends in Sri Lanka; people who have lost brothers and fathers and sisters," he said.

"As British citizens, they want the UK government to act. Rather than just calling for a ceasefire, they should go to the UN security council to demand one."

Many protesters carried banners with slogans such as "Stop Sri Lanka's Genocide of Tamils".

Police officer at Tamil protest
Police have made six arrests

In recent weeks, the clashes between security forces and Tamil Tigers have intensified as the security forces enter what they say is a final push to defeat the rebels and end nearly three decades of conflict.

The United Nations says more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and 7,000 others injured in the fighting in the north-east in the last two months. The Sri Lankan government disputes these figures.

Mr Miliband said: "Nothing excuses the reported use of civilians by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) as a human shield.

"But nor does the LTTE's behaviour excuse any failings by the Sri Lankan government to meet the high standards expected of democratic governments in conflict."

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said he would deliver a letter to Downing Street on Wednesday calling for the situation to be debated by the UN Security Council, signed by a number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs.



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