Massive Canadian rally said 'significant'

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 February 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A large number of Tamil people participated in a march and rally Toronto Sunday, to condemn the Sri Lankan government. According to the organizers, the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, this was one of the largest attendance of their rallies, with about 25,000 people taking part.

FACT said that the event was staged to "reiterate the message that Sri Lanka's 50 years of Independence meant freedom for the Sinhalese people but enslavement for Tamils".

The large crowd marched from Nathan's Square adjoining the Toronto New City Hall at 11.00 a.m. and wound its way to Queen's Park in front of Ontario Provincial Parliament, accompanied by several floats.

The marchers shouted slogans, declaring the 4th of February (Sri Lankan Independence day) as a 'Black Day' for Tamils, and condemning atrocities by Sri Lankan troops.

The Canadian and Tamil Eelam flags were raised in Queen's Park at the start of the rally, as the crowd stood in several inches of snow. Several Tamil and Canadian speakers addressed the crowd, including members of the Federal and Provincial Parliaments and Toronto City Councilors, as well as the President of FACT, Mr.V. Thangavelu.

The Canadian legislators included Mr. Jim Karygiannis, Jim Brown, Mr. Tony Silipo (the Deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party), Mr. Jack Layton and Ms. Pam McConnel, (both Toronto City Councilors).

A resolution asking the Canadian government to recognize the "legitimate national struggle of the Thamil people under the leadership of the vanguard force the LTTE" proposed by Mr.V. Thangavelu was carried with vocal support from the crowd.

Some Tamil community members said that the large turnout at a political rally, particularly in support of the LTTE, was "a significant event", particularly in light of the 'Suresh Case' and the proscribing of the LTTE by the United States last year.

"Many of them [marchers] may have felt compelled to demonstrate their support due to Suresh's treatment by the Canadian government" said the editor of a Tamil periodical.

The Canadian government took Mr. Manickavasagam Suresh into custody in October 1995 on the basis he was head of a front organization for the LTTE. Moves to deport Mr. Suresh to Sri Lanka drew criticism from human rights organisations and protests from the Canadian Tamil community.

A Provincial Court Judge recently stopped the deportation, pending a resolution of Mr. Suresh's constitutional claims. A hearing in the Canadian Federal court is due on February 6th.

Related Articles:
01.02.98   Large Tamil rally in London
28.01.98   Suresh granted deportation stay order


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