Monday, May 11, 2009

Toronto Tamil Protest - latest demonstration calls Tamil Tigers freedom fighters

Chanting "Tamil Tigers - freedom fighters", the latest Tamil protest in Toronto closed down portions of the Gardiner Expressway yesterday, frustrating thousands of weekend motorists and prompting a standoff with police and several arrests of the increasingly unruly Tamil protesters for assaulting police.

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This latest protest, dubbed illegal by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, was in response to weekend reports of violent assaults by Sri Lankan troops against rebel Tamil forces in the northern part of that country and the terrible cost in civilian deaths and injuries. The Tamil community in Toronto has responded by staging several large demonstrations in the past weeks. Peaceful and law abiding until recently, the protesters are venting their frustration at what they see as inaction by the international community. Not the first in Ontario to use the closing of busy highways to make a point (such as the coalition of farmers and Ontario truckers), the Tamil community has probably lost much moral support as a result of the disruptions yesterday. I first reported on their denigrating verbal assault on a defenceless homeless woman on University Avenue and the protesters attempts to dislodge her from the small patch of concrete she sleeps on last week. I lost respect for their protests then, even though I support an end to the violence in Sri Lanka.

Many will be similarly opposed to the local Tamil community's support of the Tamil Tigers, offficially known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and classified as terrorists by the Canadian government. Many in history have called rebels freedom fighters, and to a certain extent the designation is often decided by the winning side in a civil war. But terrorism has an uglier side, and I'm reminded that some in Canada viewed the FLQ - the Front de Liberation du Quebec - as freedom fighters - when in fact they were violent criminals best known for murdering Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte and stuffing him in the trunk of a car. The FLQ committed more than 200 violent crimes including terrorist bombings resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians.

The international community did not cry out for the U.N or foreign troops to interfere in Canada when the Canadian government imposed the War Measures Act and sent the army into the streets to re-establish order and bring to justice members of the FLQ. We would do well to be instructed by our own history.
:: [sources - cbc, CP ]

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