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Opinion: Sick of these Tamil Protests, Eh?

May 23, 2009

by Sunthar V

Sick of these Tamil Protests, Eh?

Let me take you to the side and speak to you. Away from the crazy mass of Tamils who have blocked your roads, caused commuter chaos and made your life so miserable through their protests. So miserable, that you feel they should be stripped of their Canadian citizenships and shipped back to wherever the hell they came from.

As Torontonians recover their lost sympathy from last week’s University Avenue hold-up, and brace for yet another human chain rally put forth by these Tamils, there are many thoughts that explode out of my rather youthful Tamil-Canadian upbringing. Yes, I too am a Tamil. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a terrorist nor am I a difficult individual. I do however, have a long last name and I am the first generation of my family to receive a post-secondary education, but never has my upbringing consisted of resentfulness towards what my family calls home, Canada. I would never give up this country for anything, and my pride for it mirrors my favourite beer commercials.

However, I cannot express the same sort of pride towards our government. Over the past eight months, there have been over 5 major protests in Toronto and Ottawa consisting of thousands of Tamils. They have been held to encourage the Canadian government to take a stance in the brutal civil war that has escalated over the past few months in Sri Lanka. They have been peaceful demonstrations which remain precedent to other activists groups. There haven’t been any instances of foul play or aggressiveness that has put the general public at harm. Yes, they have been loud and large but, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be called protests.

But all this yelling has only fallen on deaf ears of the Conservative government and annoyed my ethnically embracing neighbours. Everyone is tired of it, except the government it seems. Why is it so hard for Canadian politicians to grow a pair and condemn the killing of innocent civilians?

I’m not asking my fellow Canadians to hold hands and pet my freedom fighters, but stop supporting an equally ruthless and if not worse terrorist Sri Lankan government. The Sri Lankan government has banned independent media and international aid agencies in the North, where the bulk of the fighting is taking place. Furthermore, UN satellite images last week prove that the Sri Lankan Army haven’t been enforcing a civilian friendly offense. Nearly 7000 civilians have died in the past 90 days, and these are only the confirmed reports. This is not to say that the LTTE have been proven to fighting a fair game either. There are reports of human shields and other disturbing practices from the “safe zone”. Nonetheless whether it is a result of their defeat or not, the Tigers have continually been calling for a ceasefire and that is a step in the right direction.

Incessant international suggestion for a ceasefire have been ignored and dismissed by Sri Lanka’s leaders. European countries have pushed international intervention while Canada, remains quiet. Let’s keep in mind Canada is arguably home to the largest number of Sri Lankan Tamils, outside of the tear-drop island. Being said, our Canadian ambassador remains posted in the Sri Lanka, and our trade with the country is as lively as ever.

What about the 3 million bucks Canada has committed to the rehabilitation of civilians? Yeah, what about it? There is no assurance to whether that money will fully fund in helping the civilians and the NGO’s aren’t allowed in the North, so to whom is this aid going to? Prime Minister Harper thinks his monetary band-aid will shut Tamils up, but it won’t. Again, we are not looking for money during this economic mess; we want a government with balls. Condemn the Sri Lankan government’s attacks, bring our ambassador home and impose sanctions on Sri Lankan goods.

Another thing, I’m not here to say that the blocking of University Avenue for a protest is the smartest idea. It is a road that is essential in bringing emergency services to hospitals nearby. However, unfortunately that is where the US consulate is located and if it were any other protest, I am sure my fellow Torontonians could accommodate. Tamils are tired of crying to our Canadian government officials who have given a deaf ear towards the cause. The next resort is to campaign towards President Obama, to get him to do something, and have our passive-aggressive government to follow suit like it always has.

So during your detour to work, think about the sacrifice you are making so that millions of civilians are saved from a deadly war. As for emergency response vehicles, Toronto police have and should continue to address the crowd and allow for accommodating lanes to be open. I am very grateful towards Toronto police as they show compassion and remain sturdy during such a difficult situation. Thank you.

So next time the Tamil rally pisses you off, stop and take a breath. Think, just for a second. If your family was in a country kilometres away being raped, killed and shelled, while your embracing nations’ government sat quiet…what would you do? Could you sit quiet at home, as reports of your people are being flooded into your head? Could you go to work efficiently thinking about your sisters and mothers being kidnapped and raped? Could you remain silent?

My fellow Canadian brethren, pray with me and if you can join me in bringing light to the issues of inequality and human suffering in Sri Lanka. But most of all, please don’t despise me for raising my voice. After all, I AM CANADIAN.

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