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    Sri Lankan Tamils organise protest in many countries

    Ottawa (IANS): Protesting Tamils in Canada have sought Sri Lanka's ouster from the Commonwealth and international trade and travel embargo against it for the "genocide" of innocent civilians in the conflict zone.

    The Tamils, who have been protesting outside parliament for the past six days, have also launched a hunger strike to draw attention to the "use of chemical weapons by Sri Lanka to wipe out the community from the island nation."

    They have vowed to continue their sit-in till the Canadian government and the global community take concrete steps to end the war in Sri Lanka.

    A woman, who was among five Tamils on hunger strike, has been admitted to hospital, reports said. She was still in hospital while paramedics maintained a close watch on the remaining four strikers.

    "Five of the protest organizers, who represent the Coalition of Canadian Tamils to Stop the War in Sri Lanka, are on hunger-strike and one of them - a young woman - has been admitted to hospital," Canadian Tamil Congress leader David Poopalapillai told IANS.

    He said his organization has nothing to do with these protests which have been organized by the Tamil youth and students to give vent to their anger against Sri Lanka's atrocities on innocent civilians.

    He said thousands of Tamils from Toronto, Montreal and other cities were still converging on the Canadian capital, and the Congress Tamil Congress was only acting as a bridge between the protesters and Canadian leaders.

    "We have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the weekend and sought a meeting with Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon to urge trade and travel sanctions against Sri Lanka.

    "Sri Lanka is now using chemical weapons against the Tamils to annihilate the community from the island. We want immediate sanctions against Colombo...it should be thrown out of the Commonwealth," said Poopalapillai.

    Last week, the Canadian foreign minister had urged Sri Lanka to stop the assault to let the civilians get out of the conflict zone.

    "But we want the temporary ceasefire being observed by Sri Lankan forces to be made permanent. We want a political solution on the island so that the Tamils have the right to self-determination," said the Tamil leader.

    Though the LTTE is banned in Canada, it enjoys a huge support among the 300,000-strong community in this country.

    Canada has the largest concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils anywhere in the world outside the island nation.

    PTI reports from Melbourne:

    Hundreds of Tamils on Sunday staged a protest rally outside Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Sydney house demanding the Australian government to use its influence for a permanent ceasefire between Sri Lankan army and LTTE.

    The protest began in Sydney's west on Saturday but moved to the prime minister's official Sydney residence amid reports that the Sri Lankan government had broken into the "no-fire zone" in the island nation.

    While the protesters remained calm outside the Rudd's house on Sunday, the scene turned noisy with a group chanting slogans like "Australia, save the Tamils", "We want ceasefire" and "Stop genocide".

    Men, women and young children waved red Tamil flags and banners saying "Impose sanction on Sri Lanka".

    The protest remained peaceful with police monitoring the protesters and blocking many surrounding streets, media reports said. Many protesters had been lying on mats and pillows on the road since early morning. Few of the protesters are also on hunger strike.

    One of the protesters Geetha Mano was quoted as saying by that the rally will continue till some response from Prime Minister Rudd or Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith was received.

    Ms. Mano said the protesters were calling for the ceasefire, for food and medicine to be sent to the Tamil civilians and for Tamil people to have the right to live where they choose.

    "We ask the international community and the Australian government to urge, to push the Sri Lankan government to call for a ceasefire and to meet these demands so that these people get the right to live freely and with freedom of choice," she said.

    Mr. Rudd office, however, said it would not be commenting on the protest.

    Sri Lanka on Saturday ordered its troops to halt their offensive against the LTTE for two days in view of the Tamil and Sinhala New Year to allow trapped civilians to escape the war zone.


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