Canadian Tamils mount vigil in arctic conditions
[TamilNet, Monday, 12 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A vigil against the planned deportation of Mr. Suresh Manickavasagam to Sri Lanka continued today. A large number of Tamils, including some on hunger strike, protested for the third consecutive day in front of the Don jail where Mr. Suresh is being held, despite the freezing conditions that Canada is experiencing now.
There are about 50 Tamils outside the Don jail at any one time. The group, including women and children, rotates regularly as new protesters join and others seek shelter from the sub zero temperatures.
Yesterday, at one point more than 250 people turned out in temperatures close to -15C. A number of the protesters are on hunger strike.
The protesters held placards calling for the immediate release of Mr. Suresh, a Tamil community activist, and highlighting the atrocities by Sri Lankan security forces in Tamil areas of the island.
The protest began on Saturday at 10.00am and is intended to continue till Tuesday 10.00am (the initial date of the scheduled deportation). The date has been put back to January 19.
The Canadian immigration informed Mr.Suresh's lawyers last Thursday, that he was to be deported to Sri Lanka, despite fears for his life in Sri Lankan custody. Mr. Suresh has been in custody for over two years, although he has not been charged under Canadian law.
Amnesty international has joined the call to halt the deportation, saying that Mr. Suresh, a Convention refugee who fled Sri Lanka in 1990, faced 'human rights violations, particularly torture' were he to be forcibly returned to Sri Lanka.
Mr. Suresh's lawyer, Ms. Babara Jackman went to the Federal court in Toronto today to present her case for the stay order, which she had filed on Friday, but the judge had asked for more preparation time. The hearing has been postponed to Thursday.