Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Canada says protest gives image of LTTE involvement

The Canadian government says Tamil-Canadian protests, including one that shut down a Toronto highway on the weekend, are giving people the idea that a terrorist group is part of the demonstrations.

Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda says she noticed red flags being flown at the protests bearing the symbol of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Sri Lankan guerilla group that has been engaged in a prolonged civil war with government troops in that country on behalf of the ethnic Tamil community.

The Tamil Tigers are considered a terrorist group by the Canadian government.

Oda told CBC Newsworld that the flags being flown "would say to Canadians that ... the terrorist organization is part of the demonstrations that happened."

Some protesters chanted their support for the Tamil Tigers at Sunday's highway protest.

The thousands of people who flooded onto the Gardiner Expressway left only after receiving assurances that the Liberals would raise their plight in Parliament.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will continue to press the Harper Conservatives on the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka but is distancing the party from the demonstration itself.

Ignatieff issued a statement urging that future protests be lawful and stressing that Liberal MPs took no part in the protest.

He also says the Liberals unequivocally condemn the Tamil Tigers.

"The Liberal Party of Canada stands firmly against terrorism, and I restate our unequivocal condemnation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam," said the statement.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty also assailed the tactics of the protesters who shut down the highway, saying the bloodshed in Sri Lanka does not justify such action.

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