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Shades Of LTTE Supportive Disruptions At Human Rights Watch In Toronto Provides Canadian Speculation And Invokes Doubts !

Gemunu Kumara - Global Lankan Watchtower for LankaWeb.

The Ill repute and apathy of the LTTE as only their closest critics and astute observers know it and something many Canadians are gradually becoming aware of was vividly displayed in Toronto, Canada on the 12th of December 2004 at a gathering of a Canadian Human Rights Watch in Scarborough Ontario.The behaviour of the pro -LTTE element who had gathered in their numbers at this meeting, some of them who have never even seen Sri Lanka and can hardly comprehend the state of affairs within the Island Nation, further tarnished their international image as circumspect and unacceptable to the Canadian way of life which at all times is tranquil and calm.

A prominent invitee guest speaker at the meeting, former Ontario Premier, Bob Rae expressed dismay, disgust and frustration publicly, stating with much derision and dismay that in his 25 years of public life he had never encountered such disgraceful behaviour in having been prevented from speaking at this meeting where he was constantly interrupted rudely and shouted down and at times heckled which may seem legit to some as a normal occurence in Sri Lanka but totally out of place in Canada which is one of the world's best known non aligned Nations where Democracy and free speech is a part of the normal order of things.

Perhaps also a reflection on the errors of the Canadian Government towards admitting rabble into the decent mainstream Canadian society over the wave of sympathy towards unlimited unscreened refugee admissions during the '80 and '90s when there was a mass exodus of refugees from third World countries and particularly Sri Lanka during the internal armed insurrection of the LTTE which has now resulted in the pollution of the quality of Canadian life to some degree according some socio economic experts,which they conclude is a direct fallout of the infiltrations of what they term misfits to the Canadian way of life where their merging capabilities with respect to some are almost non existent, tending to be clannish and rebellious towards assimilating accepted Canadian norms and the expert opinion thus, with a ring of truth to it!

The meeting organized by Human Rights Watch, an internationally reputed human rights organization was held in connection with Human Rights Watch’s latest release “Children and Sri Lanka’s Armed Conflict”, at the Scarborough Civic Center in Toronto, Canada in Southern Ontario and apparently turned into an unruly shouting match between the protestors and the organizers. The main panel of speakers were Ontario’s former Premier and Chairman of the Forum of Federation, Bob Rae and Jo Becker, Advocacy Director of the Human Rights Watch, Children’s Rights Division and the meeting was chaired by Prof. Noah Novogrodsky of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law a highly respected individual within the Metro Toronto Community.There were also many other human rights activists, members of the Amnesty International, academics, and general public who participated in the meeting.

No sooner had the the Chairperson made the introductions, one supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), sprang up vociferously demanding as a procedural issue why there were no representatives from the Tamil Community present?. Synonymously, then joined by more protesters they started to disrupt the proceedings. On further investigation these were, according to reliable information, mainly university students many born in Canada and have never seen the colour of Sri Lanka and can neither read nor write the Tamil language yet confidently insistent almost to a point of justification that theirs was a just demand when in reality it seemed somewhat ludicrous.

Responding now almost with indignation the panel mentioned that they could not get an independent person while responding that even those whom they approached feared intimidation and preferred not to join the panel as the reason for non Tamil participation was debated and the theme of the gathering digressed from its original purpose to a meaningless cacophony. It is common knowledge that at present there are many intimidations and criminal attacks within the Sri Lankan Community globally, stemming from LTTE inspiration by criminals who are also involved in underworld criminal activity, gang warfare, drug running,murder, extortion and a host of other deplorable incidents which has brought Sri Lanka to disrepute where Toronto is no exception.

Although organizers had promised initially that after the speakers presented their views in their speech, there would be a question and answer period between the panel and the audience, it never transpired as unruly supporters of the Sri Lankan Tamil rebel outfit the LTTE continued to heckle the proceedings insisting that they had to speak first and their disorderly conduct was shameful and totally inappropriate in keeping with Canadian expectations towards order. The panel refused to give in to their demand and hence a section of the youths present in the meeting continued to disrupt the proceedings with their outlandish behavior for an indefinite period of time.

At this juncture A visibly agitated former Ontario Premier, Bob Rae took the podium and chided the hecklers that in his 25 years of public life he had never been prevented from speaking at a meeting and also observed that it was a shame that a public meeting could not be held in a democratic manner in Canada. He was very firm that he should make his presentation and he continued his address as scenario of disruptions continued with no regard or respect to order and decorum by the group involved.

Bob Rae spoke in a very confident and impressive manner as he stressed the importance of negotiations by the Authorities towards influencing LTTE in changing their attitude and accepting pluralism, which would unquestionably be the international community.
His speech was followed by that of Ms. Jo Becker, who had conducted research in Sri Lanka on ongoing issues and appeared unfazed by the ongoing disruption. Her stoic observations on how the war had affected the children in the North and East of Sri Lanka was a concerted effort of genuine concern for the affected young ones and admirable in its perspective. She cited many examples of how the LTTE had recruited and used child soldiers in the war while emphasizing in her own words as quoted that "As elders it is our duty to take care of the children and not send them to war. She also said that the parents and the children in the North- East are still living in fear although there is ceasefire." end quote.

At the end of the panel presentation it was announced that a Tamil Language translation would follow as a summary of the speeches for those who may not have fully understood the English speeches at which stage the LTTE spokes persons rose up in anger expressing their confidence at comprehending fully the contents of the speeches wheras the stark reality was as was later revealed that there were many who had found it difficult to grasp the full implications of what was said in English!

As the mayhem continued to the embarrassment of some of the more self respecting dignitaries at the gathering, concerns were expressed by many of them at the behavior of some of their community members. One member of the audience was even heard as saying that quote " it is sad that the Tamil community lives in fear and they cannot express their opinion freely in public even in Canada which conveyed much of the speculations many Canadiand now have about how orderly and law abiding these individuals are who once came into the country whimpering about hoe repressed and downtrodden they were and how willing they would be towards merging into mainstream Canadian Society and providing much food for thought towards the contrary!

While there waq a strong force of Metro Toronto Police present on the premises to ensure the safety of the public there were sporadic breakdowns of anguish and tears by some of the younger members in the audience and the all important question was asked that " If the former Toronto Premier, Bob Rae himself cannot speak without any disruptions in his own country how can a Tamil representative speak at such a public meeting? If this is the behavior of the “educated” Tiger supporters in Canada, just imagine the behavior of the “uneducated” tigers in Sri Lanka" was the final conclusion which leaves much of the LTTE activities in Canada in retrospect to their international and Sri Lankan activities with great doubts in the minds of many Canadians


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