We are the world (III) - Macleans.ca

We are the world (III)


Tamil protests continue downtown, though now on the sidewalks, safely out of the way of moving vehicles. Lawrence Cannon declines an invitation to intervene.

Cannon rejected a call by the Sri Lankan high commissioner to Canada to crack down on the protesters because they were waving banners that depict a tiger in front of a pair of crossed guns.

“It’s not up to me to put an end to protest,” said Cannon. “People are allowed to protest in Canada. We live in a democracy. People are allowed to go and express their ideas, their concerns.”


We are the world (III)

  1. Damn straight. Their passionate desire to establish an autonomous, ethnically cleansed homeland does not allow them to break laws and inconvenience thousands.

  2. Well said Cannon.

    Sri Lanka’s government killing civilians, says Human Rights Watch

    “Sri Lanka’s Government is “slaughtering” civilians with indiscriminate shelling as it tries to finish off the last Tamil Tiger rebels hiding in a patch of northeastern jungle, Human Rights Watch said yesterday. After a two-week covert fact-finding mission to the region, the New York-based group also said that civilians who escaped the conflict zone were being herded in military-run internment camps.”

    • Not to get into a whole “he said, she said” rabbit hole, which totally isn’t productive, but just to play Devil’s advocate, I’d point out that the Sri Lankan government would point out that their position is that the civilians in the area are being used as human shields by the Tigers, and that the Tigers are shooting civilians who try to flee the last of the Tamil controlled areas to escape the fighting. So, they’d say, that the “civilians who escaped the conflict zone [and are] being herded in military-run internment camps” are the civilians lucky enough not to get shot by the Tigers for trying to escape the conflict zone.

      For every “they’re shelling innocent civilians” there’s a “they’re shooting innocent civilians who are trying to flee the shelling”.

      • I agree LKO. I’m neither an avocate for LITE or the Sri Lanka Government… though I do think the Tamil protesters’s have legitimate fears and concerns and I’m very pleased to see the government’s position on this.

        • I agree.

          I do find the flags distasteful (I live in Scarborough, so I see a car or van go by almost every day flying an LTTE flag), as are the protests, but as far as I’m concerned freedom is freedom, even to the point of the freedom to give (non-material) “support” to a listed terrorist group.

          Now, there’s something perhaps to be said for the fact that (perhaps) another group would have been arrested or broken up for disrupting traffic, but just protesting, even in favour of LTTE is totally kosher in a country like ours, and should be. I wouldn’t be thrilled to see cars in my neighbourhood flying Nazi flags, or al Qaeda flags (say, does al Qaeda have a flag???), but I’d defend their right to do so.

          • I tend to feel like it’s the disrupting traffic that’s the issue here, believe it or not. I know that Wherry, in a previous “We are the world” post, was poking fun at people who didn’t really care about the protests and just wanted to get home at night. God forbid they have their own life and concerns. That’s the issue for me though. I care not if people want to protest against or for the Sri Lankan government. That’s their right. I don’t care if they want to protest against the prevalence or deficiency of celery in local supermarkets. But the right to protest, the right to free speech or freedom of expression, doesn’t, in my mind, give you the right to disrupt the day to day life of others in any physical way.

  3. “It’s not up to me to put an end to protest,” said Cannon. “People are allowed to protest in Canada. We live in a democracy. People are allowed to go and express their ideas, their concerns.”

    So long as they are already in the country before expressing their views, of course.

  4. Well for one thing 2 wrongs never make a right. Second no one can say they know what is happening in the war zone because the Sri Lankan gov has banned all media coverage. Also they are the ones who forced out all NGO and humanitarian aid workers. What are they hiding? There is no reason to keep the media out. They’ve been in plenty of war zones. And Iggy never mentioned sending in troops. He said that the international community should send in a UN monitor to supervise under the RESPONSIBILITY to PROTECT endorsed by the UN.
    “UN Secretary-General emphasized the need of governments to take action against threats of massive human rights violations and other large scale acts of violence against civilians. He called on governments to embrace the Responsibility to Protect, emphasizing that while it is first and foremost the individual government’s responsibility to protect its populations, the responsibility shifts to the international community when the state is unable or unwilling to protect.”

    If you do some research you will see it has been many years that the government has been trying to eliminate the Tamils and their idea of a self run state. Why do you think so many left? Here are some quote from journalist that were in the war zone in the 90’s before the media was blocked at that time. This time they did it right and banned media before they started bombing!

    “I attended a press conference where (Sri Lanka) Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratne told the press that there had been no civilian casualties despite heavy bombing. When I volunteered that I had seen many bomb-blasted bodies, and many hundreds of people injured by helicopter strafing and more, the Defense Minister told me it was a pity I had not been shot…”
    – Deanna Hodgin [journalist, Insight Magazine] (7 November 1990)

    “The Sri Lankan air force bombed a refugee-packed Catholic church in the northern Jaffna peninsula, killing 65 people including 13 babies…The military had dropped leaflets warning civilians to seek refuge in temples and churches to minimise the chance of death or injury in air strikes.”
    – Reuters (11 July 1995)

    “Hours after the Sri Lanka government imposed military censorship on press reporting, on 21 September, aircraft bombed a Jaffna schoolyard crammed with 750 children on their lunch break, killing 34 and seriously injuring over 150 others.”
    – The British Refugee Council, Sri Lanka Monitor (September 1995)

    “Daily life in Jaffna is conditioned by the distant drone of aircraft engines and the run to the bunkers behind almost every house. There were no warnings, no air-dropped leaflets announcing operations. Why should there be? After all, no one is watching.”
    – The British Refugee Council Publication, Sri Lanka Monitor (July 1993)

    FYI I am not Tamil.

  5. The protestors better wind it up this weekend when there are no commuters in downtown Ottawa. If they are still out there disrupting traffic by the middle of next week, things could get nasty. The Ottawa police are under intense citizen pressure to clear the roads. So far police have prudent and low-key in their approach, fearing that a dispersal of this sizeable crowd will result in disruptions to many other downtown streets. Right now they have the Tamils concentrated in one place but police patience has a limit. No one has the right to block city streets indefinitely and the police will have to act on public demands that they enforce city by-laws against such action.

    Compounding police difficutly is the fact that the Tamil organizers (probably deliberately) have sent their supporters into the street without leaders present. That means the police have no one with any official standing in the group with whom they can negotiate, possibly to get the protestors off the street and onto Parliament Hill.

    Frankly, though, except for reporters at the Ottawa Citizen, most Canadians don’t give a crap about the Tamils. That civil war is drawing to a close and the Sri Lankan government is going to win. These demos here and elsewhere are last-ditch efforts to pressure Western governments into bullying the Sri Lankan government into a ceasefire that will save the Tamils from certain defeat. It won’t work. There is no way the Sri Lankans are going to stop now when they can smell victory.