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article imageCanadian Tamils march, rally through Toronto's busiest streets Special

By Andrew Moran     Sep 3, 2010 in World
Toronto - Hundreds of Canadian Tamils, including members of the National Council of Canadian Tamils and the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, rallied in front of the Sri Lankan Consulate and then proceeded to march along Yonge Street.
“It is either do or die for Tamils.” “The LTTE is not a terrorist organization.” “Canada take immediate action.” “Resettle Tamils back to their homes.” “Close the camps. Save the Tamils.”
These were the chants that could be heard throughout the city of Toronto on Friday as hundreds of Canadian Tamils rallied in front of the Sri Lankan consulate and proceeded to march down Yonge Street to Queen’s Park.
The Sri Lankan Consulate rally
The purpose of rally and march was to bring local awareness to the current situation in Sri Lanka where still more than 80,000 Tamils are internally displaced, despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa promising to resettle displaced Tamils within 180 days.
Canadian Tamils rally at Queen s Park in Toronto.
Canadian Tamils rally at Queen's Park in Toronto.
The tens of thousands of Tamils are also being housed in 10 displacement camps, which are surrounded by armed guards and barbed-wire. These camps have been described as “concentration camps” and the United Nations and international organizations say basic sanitary conditions are not met.
Demonstration organizers also urged average citizens to contact Canadian government officials and or boycott Sri Lankan products and services, including Sri Lankan Air Lines, Ceylon tea and Sri Lankan garments:
“Sri Lanka is acting arrogantly and many countries should know that it can’t keep killing the innocents and expect people to buy their products and services that are covered in blood,” said one pamphlet handed out to the general public.
Canadian Tamils march on St. Clair Avenue in Toronto.
Canadian Tamils march on St. Clair Avenue in Toronto.
The New Zealand Supreme Court’s recent decision
Friday’s large demonstration comes only a few days after the New Zealand Supreme Court concluded that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is not a terrorist organization but rather a political organization. New Zealand also decided not to ban the LTTE.
New Zealand’s Supreme Court explained that the Tamil Tigers was an organization that sought political change in the Sri Lankan government and securing a separate Tamil state in the northern region of Sri Lanka.
“We have seen the New Zealand Supreme Court come to our rescue,” said former Sri Lankan Member of Parliament, S.K. Eelaventhan. “The Supreme Court has said the LTTE is not a terrorist movement and they made the remarks in a very clear cut language: ‘LTTE is not a terrorist movement, it’s a freedom movement.’”
Canadian Tamils march on Yonge Street in Toronto.
Canadian Tamils march on Yonge Street in Toronto.
Toronto's response to the march
There were mixed reactions from Torontonians during the rally and march. Despite it being rush hour on a Friday (also a long weekend), many Torontonians were either neutral or interested in what was going on. Some even showed support by honking their horns as they drove by the rally with their fist in the air.
However, there were several individuals who made their opinions heard: “Go back to your own country,” said one gentleman in a Porsche driving by the demonstration. “Go home,” said another gentleman on the other side of the street.
What is next for Canadian Tamils?
Canadian flag
Canadian flag
The event concluded in front of the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park where they announced another rally that is scheduled to be held on Friday in front of the Sri Lankan Consulate between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., where they will, once again, urge immediate international action against the government of Sri Lanka.
“I would like to take this moment to thank all those who supported us, including the Tamil media, the printed media and the Tamil Mirror,” said the event’s organizer. “We also would like to thank Digital Journal for their coverage of these events.”
Please click here for an additional video of this event.
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