Canada investigating waving of LTTE flags at Toronto rally

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : With thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils waving the flags of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) at a rally here Monday, Canadian authorities have launched an investigation whether their action violated the nation’s new anti-terror laws.

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The current Conservative government banned the LTTE in 2006 for using suicide bombers and child soldiers in its goal for an independent nation for Sri Lankan Tamils.

Supporting a banned organisation also constitutes violation of Canada’s anti-terror laws.

More than 50,000 Tamils had joined in a “human chain” in the heart of the city, urging Canada to lift its ban on the LTTE and seek support for an independent Tamil Eelam.

Toronto police say they have launched an investigation whether waving of LTTE flags contituted violation of new anti-terror laws.

“It is something of a legal issue, and that is something that will be looked into through our legal department,” said Constable Wendy Drummond of Toronto Police.

It is not the first time that protesters in Canada have waved the flags of banned organisations.

Supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas, which are also banned in Canada, have often waved their flags at protests rallies.

In fact, B’nai Brith, the national body of Canadian Jews, Wednesday urged the city police to expand its probe into the display of LTTE flags to also include Hamas and Hezbollah.

“We commend the Toronto police for launching an investigation into the display of the flag of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group outlawed in this country,” said Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith Canada.

“However, there have been many other instances of flags of other banned terrorist entities, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, that have been in full public view at rallies, most recently early this year during the period of the Gaza conflict,” the Jewish leader said.

Canada has the largest concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils after the island nation. Most of them came here as refugees in the 1980s and 90s and settled in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The LTTE has enjoyed widespread support in the 300,000-strong community here.