50,000 Tamils jam Toronto to protest ‘genocide’ in Sri Lanka

January 31st, 2009 - 10:15 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 31 (IANS) In their biggest show of strength in the western world till date, over 50,000 Tamils took to the streets here Friday to protest against the “genocide of innocents in Sri Lanka’s conflict zone.”Carrying banners, placards and shouting slogans in icy conditions, the protesters formed a human chain in downtown Toronto from 12 noon to 6 p.m to highlight the “plight of innocent Tamils” at the hands of Sri Lankan forces.

Extended over many kilometres, the human chain jammed the city centre and threw traffic into chaos.

They called upon the world community to prevail upon Sri Lanka to stop the “genocide of innocent Tamils “ in the name of fighting terrorism.

Representing the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) and various other bodies, the protesters distributed leaflets which read: “We want peace, help us,” “Join us to stop the genocide,” and “Then Luanda, now Sri Lanka.”

CTC spokesperson David Poopala Pillai said: “Sri Lanka was fooling the international community by talking about a political solution. They are on the path to wiping off Tamils.”

He said Sri Lanka was lying to the world by saying that the retreating LTTE was targeting innocent civilians.

“We call upon the world community to stop the genocide. India as our fatherland has to step in save Tamils,” he said.

Thayan Raghavan Paranchothy, spokesperson for the organisers, said they had received chilling video accounts from the “conflict zone to show the barbaric treatment of Tamils” by Sri Lankan forces.

“Sri Lanka is carrying out a systematic genocide of innocent Tamils who are seeking shelter under trees. They are being lured into so-called safe zones which are then being bombed by Sri Lankan forces,” he said.

“On January 26, Sri Lankan artillery bombed a so-called safe zone, killing over 300 innocents and injuring thousands. Hospitals are being bombed and the injured are dying unattended,” said Paranchothy who also runs the biggest Tamil Vision International television channel in Canada.

The human chain converged on the historic Union Station before dispersing with an appeal to the world to stop “the genocide” by Sri Lanka.

Canadian MP Jim Karygiannis, which represents Toronto’s Tamil-dominant constituency of Scarborough-Agincourt in parliament, also came out openly in support of the Tamils Friday.

Taking the Canadian government to task for not pressuring Sri Lanka to protect innocent Tamils, he said, :When will this government do more than just issue press releases and immediately take the action needed to protect the innocent people of Sri Lanka?”

There are about 300,000 Sri LankanTamils in the Toronto area - their biggest concentration anywhere outside the South Asian island nation.

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