Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Sunday, 1 February 2009

Sri Lankan protest is peaceful

Sri Lanka protesters
The Sri Lankan dispute with the Tamil Tigers began in 1972

A demonstration which drew 50,000 people to central London to call for an end to violence in Sri Lanka passed without incident, police have said.

Metropolitan police said the protest against Sri Lankan military action in the north of the Indian Ocean nation resulted in just one arrest.

A man was detained for possession of an offensive weapon, police said.

The marchers delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for a ceasefire to be declared.

Waved flags

A Met spokesman said for the size of the crowd, the event passed with little disruption.

"The protest has been relatively peaceful for one of its size," he said.

Protesters banged drums and waved flags and banners as they marched through the city along the embankment of the River Thames from the Tate Britain to Temple Place.

The protest was one of dozens staged around the world to press for an end to the military offensive against the Tamil Tiger stronghold in the north of Sri Lanka.

Anandhi Suryaprakasan, of the Tamils Forum, which represents about 90 different UK-based Tamil groups, said the march was a success for the Tamil community.

"It went very well, we had a very successful day," she said.

While the official count from police put the protest at about 50,000, Mrs Suryaprakasan said the group's own estimate is closer to 100,000.

Britain's Tamil population is about 250,000, she added.

The demonstrators said civilians are being caught up in the fighting and the Red Cross has attempted to negotiate an evacuation of the wounded.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 250,000 civilians may be trapped in the fighting.

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