The demonstrators, waving LTTE flags and banners denounced TNA Spokesman Sumanthiran as a traitor, while demanding a separate state for the Tamil people. The pro-Tiger protestors claimed they were rejecting the main Tamil party’s push for a political settlement to Sri Lanka’s ethnic question.
Protestors gathered outside the venue of a public meeting organized by TNA Canada and even managed to break into the hall and disrupt proceedings, prompting the Toronto police to intervene. Police dismissed the demonstrators when they sought to block entrances and exits to the venue in Scarborough, a suburb in Toronto that is home to a large Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.
Both TNA Spokesman Sumanthiran and TNA Batticaloa District MP Rasamanickam addressed the meeting. Colombo Telegraph learns the meeting was organized by TNA Canada to give the two MPs an opportunity to brief members of the Tamil community residing in Toronto about ongoing diplomatic efforts to push for a political settlement that devolves power to Sri Lanka’s marginalized Tamil minority. Both MPs belong to the TNA’s “moderate” wing, which advocates for a credible power-sharing settlement within a united Sri Lanka. The failure of successive Sri Lankan Governments to deliver on a political solution acceptable to the country’s Tamil people has emboldened hardliners within the party and the Diaspora who see an independent Tamil state as the only solution to six-decades of ethnic struggle in the island.
Sumanthiran led a TNA delegation to Washington DC last week to brief high-ranking officials at the US Department of State. The TNA delegation met with officials from the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the US State Department. Following the meeting, the Office of Global Criminal Justice Tweeted that “listening to perspectives and concerns of minority groups in Sri Lanka is essential to promoting reconciliation”. The TNA Delegation also held talks with the Acting Assistant Secretary of State to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Lisa Peterson. The Bureau tweeted after the meeting that advancing protection and political representation of minority groups in Sri Lanka was “a priority” for the United States. Tamil Diaspora organisations that attended the meeting said the talks were “laying the foundation for a US role in formulating and implementing a durable political solution.”
The United States is reasserting its interest in the struggle to achieve justice and reconciliation for victims of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, with its re-entry into the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The pro-Tiger protestors in Toronto on Saturday, claimed they did not want a political settlement and insisted that a separate state of Tamil Eelam was the only solution to the Tamil national question. Focusing their ire on MP Sumanthiran who has faced similar protests from Tamil extremists while on foreign visits and at least one assassination attempt in Sri Lanka by operatives linked to Tamil extremists overseas in the past, the demonstrators held banners accusing the TNA spokesman of being a “Sinhala patriot” who wanted to live with the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka.
See full video of the meeting disrupted by protestors here