Montreal

Tamils protest at busy Montreal intersection

Tamil-Canadians staged a protest at a downtown intersection in Montreal on Friday morning to draw attention to violence in their home country.

Tamil-Canadians held a protest at a downtown intersection in Montreal on Friday morning to draw attention to violence in their home country.

More than 100 people gathered on sidewalks at the corner of René-Lévesque Boulevard and University Street at the height of morning rush hour.

Tamil-Canadians want the Canadian government to pressure the Sri Lankan government to end the bloody conflict, which has killed thousands, said Ramani Balendra, a member of the Tamil Action Committee.

"We are voicing our feelings about the genocide in Sri Lanka, and we are sensitizing the mainstream to support us, and to push the Canadian government to put more pressure on the Sri Lanka government for an immediate and permanent ceasefire," said Balendra, who is also a community worker at the South Asian Women's Centre.

The protest follows dramatic actions on Toronto's Gardiner Expressway and downtown streets that have disrupted traffic for days and sparked anger among many commuters.

Montreal's protest was much more subdued — but Balendra said Tamil-Canadians are willing to take the chance of angering their fellow citizens because they are so worried about the situation in Sri Lanka.

"People are desperate," she said. "Their families are dying in Sri Lanka, people have to understand."