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Thousands of Tamils turn out to “transnational” election – thestar

[MISC, Monday, 3 May 2010 06:59 No Comment]

Thousands of Tamil poured into polling stations across the GTA Sunday to elect members for their first transnational government, despite calls from numerous Tamil organizations to boycott the election.

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam will represent the million-strong Tamils living outside Sri Lanka, including an estimated 200,000 in Canada, and renews an old quest to establish a sovereign Tamil state.

Despite glitches with some of the ballot-counting machines at some of the Greater Toronto Area’s 23 polling stations, the voting went smoothly, election commissioner Spiros Papathanasakis said.

“We did have some people that tried to do some intimidation” outside a Cabbagetown poll, he said, but they left after police were notified.

However, numerous Tamil organizations condemned the election, denouncing it as an attempt to revive the Tamil Tigers, which was defeated last year after a brutal 30-year campaign by the Sri Lankan military.

“I think it’s a farce,” said Asoka Weerasinghe, founder of the Project Peace for a United Sri Lanka. “After so many years of fighting, there’s no room to divide (Sri Lanka).”

Critics say Tamils should focus on developing a united Sri Lanka.

Pon Balarajan, one of 10 candidates for the downtown Toronto riding, dismissed the boycott, saying the government will give Tamil people a voice on the international stage.

“Right now, there is no one speaking for us,” he said. “By boycotting the election, what they’re doing is damaging the Tamils right to speak . . . (and) be heard.”

[Full Coverage]

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