Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 14:48 UK

MPs to debate Sri Lankan conflict

Tamil protesters on 19 April 2009
Tamils have been staging protests in London for more than two weeks

MPs will debate the conflict in Sri Lanka next week as protests by British Tamils continue in central London.

Commons Leader Harriet Harman announced the discussions, requested by the Lib Dems, would be held on Wednesday.

The British Tamils Forum welcomed the move, saying it would give the public a perspective on just how many MPs were concerned about their constituents.

It wants the UK to end the war in the former British colony between Tamil Tiger separatists and the government.

On Monday, around 3,500 Tamil protesters blocked roads around Parliament Square as they demanded a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

Demonstrations have been held every day since 6 April with at least 50 people holding a vigil overnight.

There is no medicine, no antibiotics and children are dying
Suren Surendiran
British Tamils Forum


Suren Surendiran, from the British Tamils Forum, told the BBC the situation in Sri Lanka was deteriorating: "There is no medicine, no antibiotics and children are dying.

"There is a 17-day-old baby who is injured with a bandage around her head, but the mother can't nurse her because she is malnourished and they don't have any artificial milk powder."

Mr Surendiran added that protester Prarameswaran Subramaniam had been on hunger strike since 7 April and remained so.

The 28-year-old, who has lost several family members in the conflict, has vowed not to eat again until a ceasefire is agreed.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has sent special envoy Des Browne to the United Nations in New York to try to secure a ceasefire.

But the Sri Lankan government has rejected calls to cease fighting, arguing it would give the Tamil Tigers - a proscribed terrorist group in many countries, including the UK - time to regroup.

The Tigers - or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - are fighting for a separatist state in the north and east of the island.

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