Day 2 of Tamil solidarity protest in Ottawa

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Sri Lankan Tamils vow second day of protest in Ottawa

Ottawa Police and the RCMP had areas of Ottawa’s downtown closed off to traffic as protesters hit the streets to voice concerns over the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Photo by Ashley Fraser, The Ottawa Citizen.

by the Ottawa Citizen, April 8, 2009

A group of Tamil protesters resumed their demonstration in downtown Ottawa Wednesday morning, demanding that Canada act to end what they call a genocide in Sri Lanka.

John Antanrajakumar, 49, who came from Toronto with his wife and children, said the protesters are calling for an immediate ceasefire by the Sri Lankan government.

“Until then, we’ll be here,” he said Wednesday morning. “It is going to continue.”

Antanrajakumar was one of about 30 protesters who camped overnight near Parliament Hill following the demonstration, which disrupted the afternoon commute in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

Demonstrators with flags and banners lined the sidewalk, drumming and chanting “Break the silence” and “Stop the genocide.”

A civil war between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been going on for more than two decades, with the Tigers fighting, they say, to protect the country’s ethnic Tamil minority.

In recent months, pressure for a ceasefire has increased, as government forces encroach into territory held by the Tigers. The protesters claim their rally was triggered by the Sri Lankan government’s use of chemical weapons.

Article continues . . .

First Hand Account of the Ottawa Protest

by Kaj Thiru, Tamil Community Activist, by email, April 8, 2009

I am currently emailing from Carelton University in Ottawa at 1:51AM. I am participating in the non-stop protest to put an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

The protest at Ottawa has been successful. Currently, we have been out protesting since morning first from the side walks infront of Parliament Hill. Next, we took over the street infront of the Parliament and moved toward O’Connor and Bank including other major intersections. The occupation of O’Connor and Bank was about 4 hours and stopped a significant amount of buses. The occupation was done not to cause a disturbance to the public but to stress the urgency of our message. We cannot make the same mistakes as the past of symapthizing with the Rwandans after the end of the genocide.

We have been getting solidarity from Ottawa students from Ottawa University’s students unions. They have brought out their fellow friends and collegues to stand in solidarity with the Tamil people. Furthermore, they were kind to offer us a tent and other supplies.

Also, I was able to talk to other labour union employees and grassroots magazine.

During and towards the end of the day, the police starting filming all attendees to the protest, they kicked us while pushing us to the side walk and the Police and RCMP have cornered us onto the sidewalk again. After, they were intimidating the protesters with a possibility of a pepper spray attack and/or tear gas attack.

It is your fellow students and workers from across the province who are here protesting. They were being pushed and intmidated by our Police and RCMP. We urge all organizations to help us in this initiatives by promoting and attending the rally.

Today, Our student movement friends from Ottawa University were very kind in helping us go through this phase which was very nice of them.

We are still in front of Ottawa have been determined to not leave till we get an immediate ceasefire. There will be buses of people leaving Toronto at 7am tommorrow to arrive in Ottawa. We invite you to come and support this non-stop protest in solidarity with the Tamil Community. It is your presence that will make us feel stronger and better to fight the police tyranny and bring hope to the 300,000 civilians inside the so-called “Safe Zones” in Sri Lanka.

Please invite your Student Union and Labour Union locals, activists, friends, family etc.

Al Jazeera “Inside Story” – Ready for peace?

Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka’s president, announced the military was on the verge of wiping out the Tamil Tigers. Is Asia’s longest-running civil war really near an end? And what are the human costs of the latest fighting?

More information

For more information, including how you can help, go to Halt Genocide.

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