Tamil Information Center (TIC) marked the annual celebration of World Human Rights Day 2023 in Barnet, London, on Sunday (10), aligning with the International Human Rights Day observed globally. This event has become a significant tradition for TIC, serving as a platform to acknowledge the United Nations’ designated World Human Rights Day and to shed light on the persistent human rights violations faced by the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, as well as various ethnic groups worldwide. The aim is to amplify voices against these injustices and bring them to the attention of the international community.

In recognition of the 75th year since the inception of Human Rights Day, TIC organized the event at the Multi-Cultural Community Center in Barnet, London, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Under the theme “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All,” the Human Rights Day proceedings commenced with the lighting of an auspicious lamp.

The event featured a Tamil language greeting song, drawn from Vibulananda Adikalar’s novel “Keerthimalai,” specifically resonating with Sri Lankan Tamils. Councillor Nagus Narendra, the Mayor of Barnet, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest, while Honourable Theresa William, British Member of Parliament for Barnet Constituency and Deputy Chairperson of the British All-Party Parliamentary Committee for Tamil People, was the distinguished special guest.

Keynote addresses were delivered by Dr. Andy Higginbottom, a professor of international politics at Kingston University, and Mr. Andy Bailey, director of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee for the Prevention of Genocide. The event saw the presence of religious leaders, political figures, human rights activists, academics, and TIC activists.

A significant highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the Human Rights Awards 2023 by TIC to Frances Harrison, director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), and Bashana Abeyawardane, a journalist and human rights activist. Frances Harrison, a former journalist and UN consultant, has been a vocal advocate against ongoing human rights violations and military repression in Sri Lanka, particularly those targeting the Tamil people. Bashana Abeyawardane was recognized for his courageous efforts in confronting human rights abuses.

Dr. Siva Thiagaraja, an author and researcher in human genetics, received the prestigious late Varadakumar Memorial Award, honouring one of the founders and former operators of TIC.

The event also showcased a documentary advocating for the establishment of a Tamil Heritage Center in Britain. A project proposal and request were formally presented to the Mayor on behalf of TIC’s Cultural Department and CCD.

Adding to the cultural richness of the celebration, Alan Pradeepan’s RAB musical and a play titled “I Am Buried” by London’s Meiveli Theatre Artists captivated the audience. The proceedings included expressions of gratitude towards volunteers and a lucky draw.

Presided over by Mr. Geeth Kulasegaram, one of TIC’s directors, the event was skilfully hosted by activists  Dilakshan Manorajan and Subhamakisa Varadarasa, underscoring the commitment of TIC to promoting and safeguarding human rights for all.

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