TORONTO – The Tamil community in Canada is greeting Sri Lanka’s declaration of victory over the rebel Tamil Tigers with defiance and disbelief.
Siva Vimal, a 20-year-old Tamil activist, said he expects protests in Toronto will continue because the community’s grievances have not been addressed.
Sri Lanka’s state television station announced Monday that Tamil Tiger rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has been killed. The country’s army commander said the last pockets of rebel resistance had been cleared from the north.
In Toronto, where varying sizes of crowds of Tamil protesters have gathered for months, Vimal also questioned reports of Prabhakaran’s death, saying confirmation is needed from independent media.
Journalists and nearly all aid workers are barred from the war zone.
Prabhakaran’s death would mark the end of a decades-old quest by the rebel leader for a separate state for minority Tamils across northern and eastern Sri Lanka.
Toronto is frequently at the centre of the Tamil-Canadian demonstrations because it is home to one of the largest Tamil populations outside Sri Lanka.
On May 10, thousands of protesters held an impromptu demonstration on the Gardiner Expressway, shutting the busy Toronto highway into the evening for hours and trapping motorists.
A series of Tamil protests had closed University Avenue, a busy downtown thoroughfare, for more than three days in late April.