MP defends attendance
|A Liberal MP admitted yesterday that he was present at a weekend rally
attended by supporters of the Tamil Tigers terrorist group, but said he only went because
he was invited by his constituents.
"I was at the rally, yes," said Jim Karygiannis, MP for the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough-Agincourt.
"It was a FACT (Federation of Associations of Tamil Canadians)
rally. It's not their first or the last that I've been to.
"You understand that FACT officers are situated in my riding and I
probably have the largest Tamil community, if not the largest, one of
the largest in my riding.
"The constituents asked me to go and I went."
Several thousand Tamil-Canadians rallied at Queen's Park in
Toronto on Saturday in support of independence for Sri Lanka's
ethnic Tamil minority. They waved the Tamil Tigers flag -- a Tiger's
head and two crossed rifles surrounded by a circle of bullets.
Speakers also voiced their support for the Tamil Tigers, and a
photograph of Veluppillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Tiger leader, was
displayed. Mr. Karygiannis raised the Canadian flag at the event.
Asked why he would attend such a function, Mr. Karygiannis, a
Greek-Canadian, recounted how he had read poetry three decades
ago at a rally in support of political change in Greece, which was
then under the control of a right-wing junta.
"The one thing that I'm seeing is the following: Today's villains are
tomorrow's heroes. Mr. (Yasser) Arafat, (Andreas) Papandreou,
Sinn Fein of the IRA. They were in a struggle and today they're
sitting across the table talking to each other.
"The one thing that I wish and the one thing that I think should
happen sooner than later is conversation between the two sides,
which is not happening."
He said his only interest is in peace, and that he wants Canada to
take a lead role in trying to resolve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka,
which he complained has been ignored by the international
"I've got an interest. These are constituents. It's not supporting one
side or the other side. If I can help -- I'm not going to say to myself
I'm the greatest foremost expert of things, maybe I'm the greatest
idiot in the world -- but if you can bring to light some of the facts ...
maybe you can start a process from inside Canada that will vibrate
The Canadian government considers the Tamil Tigers to be a
terrorist group because of its violent tactics, which have included the
assassination of political leaders such as Rajiv Gandhi, the former
Indian prime minister. The group is also responsible for suicide
bombings that have killed hundreds of civilians.
Canada is home to more than 150,000 ethnic Tamils, and some
continue to support the Tigers. Money raised in Canada through
donations, organized crime and front organizations is helping finance
the terrorist group, according to police and intelligence agencies.
Canada has vowed to pass a law banning terrorist fundraising.
FACT and one of its key members, the World Tamil Movement,
have been identified as "front organizations" for the Tamil Tigers by
the U.S. State Department and a report published by the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service. FACT threatened to sue the National
Post last week for reporting on the alleged link.