Toronto's Tamil community holds overnight protest
Toronto's Tamil community ended a week of protests with an overnight demonstration at Yonge-Dundas Square in an effort to raise awareness about Sri Lanka's deadly civil war.
Hundreds of people spent 12 hours chanting and waving signs aimed at getting the attention of the Canadian government. The protest began at 10 p.m. Saturday and lasted until about 10 a.m. Sunday.
"I'm begging the politicians to take the leadership role and take the story to the United Nations and demand action in Sri Lanka," one man at the protest told CTV Toronto.
The Greater Toronto Area is home to one of the largest Tamil communities outside Sri Lanka. About 200,000 Tamils live in and around the city.
The civil war has been ravaging the Sri Lanka's tiny island since 1983. Tamils, who are mostly situated in the north part of the country, are fighting for their independence. Their cause is championed by the militant group, the Tamil Tigers.
The Singhalese majority and their government oppose the separatist movement.
Many people who attended the vigil in Toronto said they are worried about relatives who live in Sri Lanka.
The community has spent the past week staging several events around the city to highlight their plight. On Friday, tens of thousands of Tamils linked arms and formed a human chain that snaked around most of Toronto's downtown core.
"I'm standing here yelling and screaming but inside of me, I'm crying every day," said one woman at the protest.
"We're not being heard. Nobody is helping us. We don't know what to do," another woman told CTV Toronto.
In recent days the Sri Lankan army has reportedly surrounded the Tamil Tigers' Jungle Base of Operations. Aid agencies say that about 250,000 people are trapped inside the battle zone.
In the last week, hundreds have been killed or wounded, according to the International Red Cross.
The Sri Lankan army says it is focusing on rescuing trapped civilians.
"It's really unfortunate that innocent people are dying every day," said one young activist at the Toronto rally.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Ken Regular