Sri Lanka's Tamil-Sinhala conflict echoes in Canada
Toronto, May 14 (IANS) In their biggest rally here as part of ongoing protests in Canada, more than 15,000 Tamils Wednesday virtually laid siege to the Ontario provincial assembly. But a new twist was added to their protest when a helicopter with a banner 'Protect Canada - Stop Tamil Tigers' circled over the crowd.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty had invited the Tamils to stage their rallies at the assembly rather than block the country's busiest Gardiner Expressway as they did Sunday night.
Initially, the Tamil protesters got confused as they could not read the banner in the sky. But once the helicopter flew lower and they managed to read the banner, they protested angrily against it to police officers.
Even as the helicopter kept circling over the assembly with its anti-Tamil banner, it turned out that the banner was part of Toronto's Sinhalese community's first anti-Tamil protest.
Sri Lankan Sinhalese in the city also staged their counter-rally with anti-Tamil Tiger placards in the Don Valley Parkway.
They said their 50,000 members have been silent so far, but they now feared that Canada will not be a safe place if Tamils are allowed to import Tiger violence here.
'We want Toronto to be safe. The Tamil Tigers are controlling the Sri Lankan community in Canada and their agenda is the only one being heard. We feel we are being controlled,' Sinhalese protest leader Kumar Gunasekera told the local daily Toronto Star.
'What should be of real concern is the 1,000 cadres of Tamil Tigers in the Greater Toronto Area and the violence we have yet to see here,' he said.
At their rally at the assembly, the Tamils were addressed by a couple of legislators from the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) who urged them to continue with their protests.
Carrying the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) flags, the protesters chanted 'no more genocide', 'we want permanent ceasefire', and 'Canada don't be silent'. They also chanted 'Obama, thank you' for the US president's call to Sri Lanka and the Tigers to stop fighting.
Earlier in the morning, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty said he sympathised with Tamils because of the 'murder' of innocents being carried out by Sri Lanka.
McGuinty, whose daughter had worked as a volunteer in Sri Lanka for about a year, said: 'What is unfolding in northern Sri Lanka is a bloodbath. In recent days, over 1,000 civilians have been murdered, including 100 children.'
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