Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada protest fighting

OTTAWA, January 30, 2009 (AFP) – Hundreds of Tamils on Friday formed a human chain in downtown Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, to protest a Sri Lankan military push for victory against Tamil rebels. Toronto is home to the largest concentration of Tamils outside of Sri Lanka. Holding up banners decrying the Sri Lankan military’s latest offensive in the 36-year conflict with photographs of children maimed or killed in the crossfire, the line spanned almost four miles (six kilometers).

“Everyone here has someone back there who is affected,” protest organizer Supanki Kalanadan told the Toronto Star.

Similar demonstrations were also planned for Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver in the coming days.

Earlier, Sri Lanka rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire amid fears for the safety of the 250,000 civilians in the north of the country claimed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka’s defense ministry says it is conducting the final phase of operations against Tamil Tiger guerrillas in a bid to end Asia’s longest-running ethnic conflict. Tiger rebels took up arms in 1972.

The Sri Lankan government pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered truce