Canadians join in as Tamils take to streets again

May 10th, 2009 - 10:15 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 10 (IANS) After a lull of a few days, more than 5,000 Tamils and their non-Tamil supporters took to the streets here Saturday to protest the alleged genocide by Sri Lankan forces in the name of eliminating the Tamil Tigers.

Waving the flags of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), hundreds of protesters gathered near the American consulate before starting their march through the main streets of downtown Toronto.

Appealing to the international community to intervene in Sri Lanka, speakers from various mainstream Canadian organizations vowed to stand by the Sri Lankan Tamil community in its struggle for self-determination.

Organized by the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Canadian Federation of Students, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, and dozens of other organizations, the rally soon swelled into thousands as the protesters marched through main streets.

Chanting ‘Free Tamil Ealam’ slogans, they demanded that Sri Lanka be forced to end suppression of their right to self-determination. It was the first time that Tamil protests drew such a large number of non-Tamils. James Clark of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War led the protesters with his speech.

Representatives from the 350,000-strong Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Canadian postal workers’ union and the Canadian hotel employee organization also lent their support to the Tamil cause.

“Ours in a global struggle now as non-Tamils have also joined us in our fight for our rights. There will be a Tamil Ealam one day,” said Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai after the rally.

Canada is home to more than 300,000 Tamils - the largest group outside of Sri Lanka. Though the LTTE is banned in Canada, it enjoys a huge support here.

In April, thousands of Tamils protested for weeks in Ottawa and Toronto to seek Canadian and international intervention to end the Sri Lankan “genocide” of the civilians in the name of crushing the Tamil Tigers.

Last months, 15 protesters were arrested when they tried to cross barricades to reach the American consulate in the heart of Toronto. Since then, it was the first big Tamil protest here.

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