Introduction. Canadians of Tamil origin, like Tamils in many other countries, are continuing to organize mass protests to condemn the assault by the Sri Lankan military on the remnants of an armed resistance force and up to two hundred thousand civilians who are trapped in a tiny enclave in the Tamil homeland in the north of Sri Lanka. Decades of repression and open war by the government has resulted in a modern-day human rights tragedy.
The military offensive has killed thousands, while hundreds of thousands of Tamils have been herded into internment camps. There is an imminent danger of a massive relocation of the Tamil population by the government, an “ethnic cleansing” in modern human rights doublespeak.
Among the largest protests in Canada were rallies of 50,000 in Toronto on January 31 and tens of thousands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 21. But the Conservative government and the opposition Liberals remain unmoved from their firm support of the Sri Lankan government. Both parties refused to address the crowd gathered on Parliament Hill on April 21, most of whom had taken a day off work and traveled for hours by car and bus.
Socialist Voice supports the demands in the International Appeal, published below, which was issued from the World at a Crossroads international solidarity conference in Sydney, Australia in early April.
We also urge readers to circulate the appeal of the Canadian Tamil Congress directed at members of Parliament, or an equivalent in other countries. The appeal calls on the Sri Lankan government to institute an immediate ceasefire, to allow the transport of emergency food and medical supplies to alleviate the suffering of the populations in the war zones, and to respect the right to self-determination of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. You can read and download the petition at: http://www.canadiantamilcongress.ca/.
We urge readers to join the ongoing protests by Tamils and their supporters that are advancing similar demands to those of the Canadian Tamil Congress.
These articles from the Australian publications Green Left Weekly and Links provide further background on the situation in Sri Lanka:
- Sri Lanka: Brutal slaughter of civilians (May 2, 2009)
- The Tamil question in Sri Lanka (October, 2008)
Stop the genocide against the Tamils!
Participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, Sydney April 10-12, recognise the genocide being carried out against the Tamil people by the murderous Sri Lankan government. The genocidal policies of the Sri Lankan government are a continuation of over six decades of systematic discrimination carried out against the Tamil population.
The drive towards genocide of the Tamils has intensified since the Sri Lankan government abrogated the peace process in January 2008 and embarked on the reconquest of the island’s north through brutal war with devastating consequences for Tamils.
The last few months have been particularly brutal. More than 3500 Tamil civilians have been killed in a space of three months by the Sri Lankan state offensive. Tamils fleeing the fighting are being herded into concentration camps.
According to the former foreign minister of Sri Lanka, “A few months ago the government started registering all Tamils in Colombo on the grounds that they could be a security threat, but this could be exploited for other purposes like the Nazis in the 1930s. They’re basically going to label the whole civilian Tamil population as potential terrorists.”
Two hundred thousand Tamils are now facing starvation.
We believe people throughout the world must become more vocal against this genocide and protest governments that support the Sri Lankan government. Governments such as the United States, Israel, China, India and Pakistan have all equipped the Sri Lankan army with high technology weapons, including illegal chemical weapons and cluster munitions.
The undersigned participants demand:
- an immediate end to the Sri Lankan governments attacks on Tamils and for there to be an immediate ceasefire;
- that diplomatic, economic and cultural sanctions be applied till the Sri Lankan government agrees to an immediate ceasefire;
- that all military aid and assistance from governments to the Sri Lankan government must end immediately, because the money is being used to perpetrate genocide;
- that the IMF not to grant the Sri Lankan the use of $1.7 billion, as it will be used on military equipment to kill Tamil civilians; that governments of the worlds to recognise and give full citizenship rights to Tamil refugees who have had to flee to avoid the genocide;
- that the self-determination of Tamils up to and including their right to form an independent state must be respected by the governments of the world; and
- that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam be taken off proscribed terrorist lists.
(see the full list at http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/791/40764):
Salim Vally – Spokesperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee
(South Africa); lecturer and senior researcher at the Education Policy Unit and the School of Education at Wits University;
Michael Lebowitz – Director of “Transformative Practice and Human Development” at the Centro Internacional Miranda, Caracas; Professor Emeritus of economics, Simon Fraser University;
Luis Bilbao – Union of Socialist Militants (Argentina); advisor to the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela; editor of XXImagazine;
Reihana Mohideen – vice-chair of international department of the Power of the Masses Party (PLM – Philippinnes); chairperson of Transform Asia, a gender and labour institute in South East Asia; editor of Socialist Dialogue magazine;
Mericio Juvinal Dos Reis – Executive Director of the Luta Hamutuk Institute (East Timor);
Ian Angus – Socialist Voice (Canada), co-founder of Ecosocialist International Network;
Roger Annis – Socalist Voice (Canada),
Ian Beeching – Vancouver Socialist Forum;
Mike Treen – Nation director of organising, Unite union, New Zealand;
Daphne Lawless – Socialist Worker New Zealand;
Dr Brian Senewiratne – Singalese pro-Tamil activist;
Tim Gooden – Secretary, Geelong and Region Trades and Labour Council;
Jess Moore – Resistance national co-organiser;
Dick Nichols – Socialist Alliance national co-convenor ;
Peter Boyle – Democratic Socialist Perspective national secretary;
Pip Hinman – Sydney Stop the War Coalition; Socialist Alliance
Brianna Pike – DSP Sydney organiser;
Stuart Munckton – Green Left Weekly co-editor;
Emma Murphy – GLW co-editor;
Peter Robson – GLW journalist;
Tony Iltis – GLW journalist;
Jay Fletcher – GLW journalist;
Federico Fuentes – World at a Crossroads conference co-organiser, GLW journalist, editor of Bolivia Rising;
Lisa MacDonald – World at a Crossroads conference co-organiser; DSP National executive;
Chris Latham – National Tertiary Education Union, Murdoch University branch organiser;
Jamie Doughney – Senior researcher at the Work and Economic Policy Research Unit, Victoria University of Technology.
Terry Townsend – Managing editor, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal