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article imageTamils protest outside U.S. Consulate over Rajapaksa policies, UN Special

By Andrew Moran     Sep 17, 2010 in World
Toronto - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit the United Nations next week and deliver a speech to the General Assembly. Outside of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, hundreds of Canadian Tamils protested his presence at the UN.
Digital Journal reported this week that the National Council of Canadian Tamils, the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam and other non-governmental organizations will rally in front of the United Nations in New York to protest Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the UN where he will deliver a speech to the General Assembly.
On Friday, hundreds of Canadian Tamils protested outside the United States Consulate in downtown Toronto on University Avenue to show their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to allow the Sri Lankan President to set foot in the United States, and potentially Canada.
More than 500 Tamils protesting in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on University Avenue.
More than 500 Tamils protesting in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on University Avenue.
“The protest is to tell the world that the world shouldn’t allow a war criminal to come into their country; it could be Canada, U.S., or any country, especially Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is responsible for 30,000 lives,” said the National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT) Chairman Mohan Ramakrishnan. “He is coming to the U.S. and we as Canadian Tamils, we stand by the protest and we don’t like to welcome him.”
The large rally was succeeded by a march along University Avenue to Queen Street to City Hall and back to the U.S. Consulate. The walk contained chants of “Mahinda Rajapaksa – War Criminal” and “Close the camps – Save the Tamils.” Marchers also carried signs stating: “UN & USA bring this war criminal Sri Lankan President to justice,” “UN & USA investigate war crimes on Sri Lanka” and “UN, USA don’t engage with war criminal Rajapaksa.”
During the demonstration, representatives handed out vital information to the general public about who Rajapaksa is and the recent 18th constitutional amendment that passed on Wednesday that “will fundamentally transform Sri Lanka’s political system, stripping away the facade of democracy.”
Hundreds of Tamils marching along University Avenue in front of the U.S. Consulate.
Hundreds of Tamils marching along University Avenue in front of the U.S. Consulate.
According to Agence-France Presse, the recent constitutional changes will end a two-term limit on the Presidency and increases Presidential powers over the nation of Sri Lanka as it removes the checks and balances on the executive branch.
Furthermore, according to the Sri Lankan Guardian, the Sri Lankan President will only have to seek the opinion of a five-member council in order to appoint several commissions, including the Human Rights Commission, the National Police Commission, the Finance Commission and many others.
The five-person panel includes the Prime Minister, the speaker, the leader of the Opposition, a Member of Parliament that is appointed by the PM and an MP nominated by the Opposition leader.
More than 500 Tamils protesting in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on University Avenue.
More than 500 Tamils protesting in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on University Avenue.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson, P.J. Crowley, said in a written statement: “The United States is concerned that this constitutional amendment weakens checks and balances and thus undermines the principles of constitutional democracy.”
Speaking with various representatives at the U.S. Consulate, Ramakrishnan said they were very cooperative and will provide any kind of support to the Canadian Tamils and the organizations involved. The NCCT Chairman noted that there will be continued dialogue between the two parties in the future.
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