(February 5, 2014, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) As Sri Lanka celebrates its 66th year of independence, Tamils in Sri Lanka and worldwide look forward to the support of the international community to bring about peace, justice and equality to the Tamils on the island. Tamils worldwide remain hopeful that a meaningful resolution will be passed in the upcoming March 2014 United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva – one with a mandate to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the final stages of the war.
Discrimination against Tamils started several decades ago. On February 4th, 1948, Sri Lanka claimed independence from the British. It was not long before the majority Sinhalese government started to discriminate against Tamils by making Sinhalese and Buddhism the official language and religion of Sri Lanka.
Systematic discrimination continued to unfold, in various forms, whether it was in the workplace of Tamils, education opportunities or land settlement. The violence against Tamils, staring in the 50s continued throughout the years and most notably in 1983, resulted in thousands of Tamils being killed. July 1983 marked the mass exodus of Tamils from Sri Lanka, fleeing for safety to various parts of the world. May 2009 subsequently resulted in the final onslaught of Tamils, with a massacre of nearly 40,000 to 70,000 innocent Tamils, according to UN statistics.
While the Canadian Tamil Congress thanks the government of Canada for its strong stand at CHOGM in November 2014, we urge our government to take decisive action involving financial and diplomatic sanctions against Sri Lanka. In a non-partisan Government of Canada FAAE Committee Report that was released in May 2009, Recommendation 4 stated in part that these sanctions should be considered if efforts to investigate the conduct of both parties during the conflict with respect to international law, failed.
“This highlights the need for an investigation and for perpetrators to be punished, so that 66 years of discriminatory practice may be corrected through a peaceful political settlement”, stated David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress. “We call upon the international community to take decisive action in Geneva next month and remain hopeful that a Commission of Inquiry will be established”, concluded Poopalapillai.