TORONTO It’s a bitter, windy March morning. A few dozen Tamil students gather downtown, big brilliant red flags draped over their shoulders, brown clipboards in the hands of a few of the protest leaders.

These students have been tirelessly demonstrating their anger over the conflict in Sri Lanka for more than a month. A few of the attendants at the back of the pack look nervous, some look unhappy to be here. Some look defeated.

“Babe, how long do you want to stay for? It’s fucking cold outside” says one of the younger looking male students to his girlfriend.

“Shutup and listen” she says, annoyed either by his words or the meaning behind them. She looks ready; ready to protest for the welfare of her people, to go home with the feeling she contributed to her home country’s wellbeing. She’s wearing a crimson jacket to match the flag tied around her waist. The contrast of her red lipstick against her dark skin makes her stand out from the rest.

Her boyfriend looks like he just rolled out of bed. His hair is flat, his shoelaces undone and his jacket half-zipped. He rolls his eyes as the leader of the group begins to shout the slogan, “We want freedom! We want justice!” which he mouths but doesn’t actually say.

As the group walks down a busy Toronto street, big buildings towering over their small group, cars beep in approval. For every honk some cheer, but as the honks become more frequent, the cheers become less.

After a few blocks, the group looks cold; many didn’t anticipate the wind. They stop chanting and only a few – the gloved protestors – are left waving flags. The girl with the red lipstick looks disheveled, the wind has jumbled her once tidy hair and her red lipstick now bares a faint shade of icy blue.

Her companion, the tired young man, looks worn-out just like his jacket, which was definitely made for a warmer climate. He leans in beside his girlfriend, who hasn’t said a word to him since their arrival. He hands her a granola bar from his bag, which she takes with a smile. They look at each other and, before joining hands, yell out “We want freedom! We want justice!”

The rest of the protestors quickly remember why they are here, and begin shouting out “We want freedom! We want justice!” They carry on for the rest of their route with a new found enthusiasm, something not seen since the early stages of protesting. All thanks to the tired young man.

The conflict in Sri Lanka has been going on for sometime, and even with repeated calls from the UN to the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to halt so those caught in the crossfire can leave, it continues. According to the UN, more than 200,000 have been caught in the violence, but the conflict goes largely unreported by major news media.

It’s of much importance, and is no small civil conflict. It deserves more attention.

About The Author

Sachin Seth is the Blast Magazine world news reporter. He writes the Terra blog. You can visit his website at or follow him on twitter @sachinseth

One Response

  1. J

    Really?! Really? Was there any fucking thought put into this protest? Rallying up a bunch of supporters in dismantling the use of a frequented highway? Get Torontonians all fucking pissed off at you guys and expect help? I don’t think so, ask your leader to step down because there is absolutely no thought put in this protest. Get your head out of the gutter.


Leave a Reply