Canada Tamils stage candle light vigil
[TamilNet, Monday, 20 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Thousands of Canadian Tamils attended a candle light vigil on Saturday, demanding the release of Tamil community activist Mr. Manickavasagam Suresh and condemning the Sri Lankan government's war in the Tamil homelands.
In its first show of strength in nearly 20 months, the Tamil community in Canada staged a massive rally in front of Toronto's Don Jail. The vigil was jointly organised by the Federation of Association of Canadian Tamils (FACT) and the Community Coalition on Immigration.
About five thousand Tamil people attended the vigil in freezing conditions, whilst thousands more came for brief periods. According to the organisors, the event was a complete success.
The vigil started shortly after half past five in the afternoon and continued till ten o'clock.
Opposition Members of Parliament, community and religious leaders, human rights activists and local city councilors spoke to the massed crowds in temperatures barely above freezing.
The event was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the detention of Mr. Suresh, the coordinator of the World Tamil Movement, a Tamil expatriate group, who was arrested on 18 October 1995. He has been held without trial since then.
The Canadian intelligence agency (CSIS) maintain that the WTM is a front for the LTTE, and as its coordinator, Mr. Suresh was a person deemed inadmissible into Canada. The Canadian authorities admit however, that Mr. Suresh had not broken any Canadian law.
Various human rights groups have described the law under which Mr. Manickavasagam was detained as 'draconian'. The Association of American Jurists have declared Mr. Manickavasagam to be a political prisoner.