A painting of me

Tamils Protest vs. White Whine

   16 March 2009, early afternoon

The second giant Tamil protest is taking place downtown right now. The protesters hope to form a human chain that goes up Yonge from Front to Bloor, across Bloor to University, and back down to Front. If they pull that off, they would have basically choked off all of downtown. In Sri Lanka there are Sri Lankans trapped inside a small region of the country, trapped in a perimeter controlled by the Sri Lankan army. They are being shelled by their government, and shot by their liberators. To contrast, in Toronto, there are people who are going to have to cross the protesters to drink cocktails at Holt’s for fashion week, who will be late to their appointments because Union Station is packed, who can’t finish their business plan because it’s too noisy, who are stuck in traffic, etc. This might be the very definition of White Whine.

As to whether a protest is actually a good way to bring about change, I have my doubts. The Sri Lankan government isn’t going to slow down now because Canada asks them to. And because of the way these protests are almost always conflated with support for the LTTE, it’s doubtful our current federal government is going to pay the protesters much attention anyway. Still, if they pull things off, it will be a very impressive feat.

There is some discussion going on in the BlogTO morning brew post today. It’s not particularly illuminating, though I am now arguing there with way too many people about stuff I really don’t care about. I get annoyed too easily. It will be interesting to see if BlogTO or Torontoist have much to say about the protest. Their coverage of news in Toronto tends to be very niche. (Though, BlogTO did cover the last protest.)

Update: I’d change this URL, but it would break incoming links. Apparently the protesters numbered well over the 25,000 people goal.



  1. I truly love this post.

    Finding the ridiculously snotty tweets was the icing on the cake. Well played Ram.

  2. You know how we do.

    I actually could have scoured the BlogTO post by the looks of things as well. I looked to have pissed one dude off with my White Whine comment over there. I should know better, I suppose.

  3. Oh, and it’s not all bad, I just picked out some of the more choice quotes. Some people agree with my previous assessment of things.

  4. I walked by the protest, LTTE flags everywhere.

    is a good reason to be skeptical of the Toronto protest.

  5. Yeah, that’s one reason I usually avoid these protests. It is a bit disappointing the organizers couldn’t focus solely on the civilian issues, especially since the LTTE are acting pretty ruthlessly right now.

    (And people here know who the LTTE are, you don’t need to link to Wikipedia.)

  6. Why did you censor the wikipedia link?

    The LTTE are guilty of genociding Singhalese and Muslims and you want to white-wash it?

    Go to wikipedia search for LTTE. Find the truth.

    While you’re at it check what Canada has to say about it: Terrorist Organization.

    You linked this on twitter in public space. People relatively unaware of the situation in Sri Lanka are going to follow the link and land here. Don’t assume what your audience knows.

    [ed. If you want to link to wikipedia, then do so properly, not by pasting a URL in your comment. It looks ugly. I've updated your comment above so now everyone can read about the LTTE on that bastion of knowledge that is Wikipedia. I've also merged your last two comments together. Take a deep breath dude.]

  7. From the facebook event page for this protest:

    “Our people are dying, we have to let them know that the only solution is Tamil Eelam, and the only person that can get us that is our leader, Velupillai Pirapaharan.”

    We have absolutely deluded community leaders.

  8. Harjeet, the world is a complicated place. The LTTE are the defacto voice of the Tamil people, since they managed to kill off everyone that could have filled such a role. When the Western world ignores the LTTE, they effectively ignore the only representation Tamils have within their country. Ideally the LTTE wouldn’t be the ruthless group that they are, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Yes, I think this sucks too.

    Also, please don’t accuse me of white-wash anything, since if you bothered to pay any fucking attention to what I write you would see that isn’t the case. I think you will be hard pressed to find another Tamil person in Toronto writing online about the Sri Lanka that is critical of the LTTE, but if you know of any let me know. Not to call you a dumbass, but the comment section on my blog isn’t your soapbox. I can’t censor what you want to say, because there are countless ways for you to say it. I can and do keep my comments section neat and tidy because I care about my site.

    We have absolutely deluded community leaders.

    Oh hells yes.

  9. This was written after the last big protest. I agree with her but something about the article rubs me the wrong way.

    What does it take to be a community leader? I can’t speak Tamil and I know like 25 Tamil people in total…there has to be something better.

  10. Ahhh, the appearance of people in the comments to stir up the complicated feelings of civil war in the diaspora of the nation in question.

    It’s why I try my best to avoid my own country’s politics on my blog…it brings out the dead, and the hateful. Not to mention the blinded ignorant.

    Trying to be level headed with this sort is fruitless.

    In any civil war, there are no innocents..it’s the nature of it.
    There is no winning.

    Forgive me for weighing in on a subject I know little about..but, civil war, media sides are some things I’m quite familiar with.

  11. That BlogTO article is a bit of a train wreck. The Internet isn’t a good place for nuanced discussion. Being anonymous turns people into assholes, for some strange reason.

  12. Ananthan that article is great. Tamil lady that isn’t an accountant or an engineer. Maybe the future isn’t so bleak.

    “The diaspora forgets the [Tamil] population is so brutalized, people are so poor, and yet we want them to continue supporting this war,” he says. “If you don’t want to send your first born there, why would you support the war?”

    Exactly! That drives me mad. Fucking overprotecting middle class Tamil parents are all cool with sending other peoples children to fight.

  13. It’s amazing how well this was organized today. The RT was jam packed with protesters (at 1pm, it was probably much worse earlier) and when everyone got to Kennedy station, they had people at certain “checkpoints” throughout the subway station directing people where to go and telling them which part of the downtown area they wanted them in. Now, that, is how you organize a protest.

  14. Seriously. I’m impressed they could coordinate sending people to various parts of the city as well, so that the human chain thing actually happened. As I said before, Tamil peoples need to run classes on this stuff.

    What the organizers didn’t seem to do a good job of is cooling it with all the LTTE paraphernalia. Though, I suppose the fact that the LTTE flag and the Tamil Eelam flag are one and the same can confuse things.

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