Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day – May 18, 2023 – Ottawa
Fourteen years have passed, and still, there is a long way to go for justice for the crimes of genocide. Tamil Diaspora in the UK has also requested their parliament to follow the leading role that Canada takes in human rights and justice. On Nov 9, 2022, in the UK House debate, MPs called on the Government to take the vital step of finally recognizing the crimes committed against the Tamil population as genocide. Only once that has been achieved will the UK be truly honouring our human rights commitments. On May 15, 2023, a list of organizations and over 900 supporters started to request the British government to officially recognize Tamil Genocide. Similar efforts are also taking place in the USA by the Tamil diaspora. We look forward to justice via global courts either ICJ, ICC, or special tribunal in the future.
The “Tamil Genocide Education Week Act,” passed by the government of Ontario, proclaims the seven-day period in each year ending on May 18 as Tamil Genocide Education Week. This acknowledgement not only seeks to honour the lives that were lost with the Tamil Genocide but also gives a sense of hope to those who have suffered life-long intergenerational trauma and represents the first step to healing and reconciliation. By recognizing the Tamil Genocide, we affirm our collective desire to maintain awareness of this genocide and other genocides to prevent such crimes from happening again.
On February 20, 2017, women-led families of the disappeared began protesting by the roadside in Kilinochchi to demand answers regarding the fates and locations of their loved ones. They felt a sense of hope for justice from the Canadian parliament Genocide recognition. Most of their children and family members were handed over to the Sri Lankan military at the end of the war in 2009, and they still do not know the whereabouts of their family members. Over 120 Tamil parents have died while protesting for their forcibly disappeared family members with no answers, and no justice. They protested for over six years on the roadside of Vanni hoping for justice.
In February 2015, the Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka passed a resolution that demanded a UN inquiry to investigate the genocide of the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government. In May 2018, the Second International Conference on Tamil Nationhood and Genocide in Sri Lanka was hosted in Ottawa by Canadian Tamil organizations. A resolution released at the end of the conference resolved that only an independent international investigation into the charge of genocide can be acceptable.
While the international community continues to delay and deny justice for the mass atrocities and acts of genocide committed by the Sri Lankan state, it continues to silence and suppress Tamil diaspora voices through a criminal counter-terrorism lens by extending the listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organization. This continuous listing, one that has persisted for over a decade since the end of the war in 2009, undermines and infringes upon the fundamental civil liberties of Tamils in the diaspora communities. Delisting the LTTE as a terrorist organization is key to protecting Tamil civil liberties, including the right to advocate for Eelam Tamils’ right to self-determination under international law.
Presently, Sri Lanka’s occupation of the Tamil homeland has led to the continuation of human rights violations against Tamil civilians. Sri Lankan armed forces’ intimidation and surveillance of Tamil journalists and activists are rampant. Cemeteries of Tamil war heroes have been destroyed and commemoration events are impeded. The Sri Lankan government simultaneously builds Buddhist stupas in the Tamil homeland as part of its cultural genocide of the Tamil nation. Furthermore, the Sri Lankan military and navy obstruct income-producing industries such as agriculture and fisheries, further eroding the economy of the Tamil community.
In order to set the discourse in the right direction, we would like to state the following: the UN Panel of Experts appointed by the then Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon identified the following serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka: (i) Killing of civilians through widespread shelling, (ii) Shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects, (iii) Denial of humanitarian assistance. The above corresponds to Article II (a), (b), and (c) of the genocide convention.
In 2012, a United Nations panel report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka (https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/737299) reported war crimes and the failure of the UN in genocide investigation. The Tamil Diaspora has been calling for a Nuremberg-like Tribunal to prosecute the leadership of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) accountable for the crime of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity and also requesting Canada to help bring the Sri Lankan state to the International Court of Justice (ICJ ) for Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils.
Canadian Tamil organizations jointly urge the international community to work towards a broader recognition of the Tamil Genocide and play an active role in bringing the Sri Lankan government and its officials to the International Court to dispense justice to the Eelam Tamil community.
We urge the international community to follow the right actions by Canada to work towards a broader recognition of the Tamil Genocide and play an active role in bringing the Sri Lankan government and its officials to the Global Court to dispense justice to the Eelam Tamil community.
Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day message jointly by:
Ottawa Tamil Association (OTA) https://ottawatamilassociation.ca/, University of Ottawa Tamil Student Union (TSU), Quebec Tamil Development Association (QTDA), Federation of Global Tamil Organizations (FGTO) https://www.fgto.org/, Tamil Genocide Memorial https://tamilgenocide.com/, Brampton Tamil Association (BTA) https://bramptontamil.ca/, Canada Muththamizh Sangam (CTS), Carleton University Tamil Student Association (CUTSA), Ottawa Tamil Seniors Association (OTSA) – http://www.ottawatamilseniors.com/