The situation in Sri Lanka remains desperate (the issue of war crimes was discussed in my essay in the Daily Star last week.) Australian Tamils remain determined to keep the issues in the public domain.
It is mid-afternoon, threatening rain, and a most remarkable daily demonstration is under way, some six lanes of live traffic from the U.S. consulate.
Three women sit beneath a tree on a concrete planter. Two men are beneath another tree, wearing placards. Eight more picket signs are staked in newly renovated, as-yet-unplanted flowerbeds outside the provincial courthouse at 361 University Ave.
The demonstrators are quiet. The signs do the talking.
“Boycott! Boycott! Sri Lanka products,” reads one. “Tamils want justice,” and “Save the Tamils, Mr. Obama, yes you can,” read others. Another urges Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bail out civilians from “concentration camps.”
What began 172 days ago as a protest by Toronto Tamils against allegations of genocide in the dying days of a decades-long battle between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, is now a plea for the world to pay more attention to the plight of some 250,000 “internally displaced persons” who the government – having since crushed the Tigers – continues to confine in camps.
The United Nations agency for refugees expressed concern for the “displaced” following an incident in late September in which security forces opened fire on an angry mob, wounding several, including a child who is reportedly now paralyzed.