Luxmy Viyapuri, left, and other members of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) focus on speakers during their meeting in Scarborough on May 12. The TGTE continues to work for an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka 10 years after a civil war there ended in defeat for the separatist Tamil Tigers. - Torstar staff photo Luxmy Viyapuri, left, and other members of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) focus on speakers during their meeting in Scarborough on May 12. The TGTE continues to work for an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka 10 years after a civil war there ended in defeat for the separatist Tamil Tigers. - Torstar staff photo
May 25, 2019

Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day in Toronto

The people of Sinhalese descent and the moderate Tamils, Muslims and others of Sri Lankan origin have suddenly received a culture shock by the declaration of a Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day in Canada by the two municipal councils in Greater Toronto (Brampton and Toronto). On top of this a Tamil MPP by the name of Vijay Thanigasalam has proposed the bill 104 to the Ontario provincial government asking for a Tamil Genocide Education Week. Their proclamations charged the Sri Lankans and its government as having a “genocidal agenda” since 1948.

About 175,000 voters including several thousands of non-partisan Tamils have already staged their protest in writing to respective mayors and the Premier of Ontario.

The Brampton city council recently passed a proclamation to declare the 18thof May as the Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day in Brampton. According to this proclamation it is claimed that the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka were subjected to severe persecution and injustice by the rulers of the government of Sri Lanka after the independence granted by the British in 1948. It further claims that in 2009 the oppression of the Tamils in Sri Lanka was accelerated and has become the “Genocide of the 21stcentury”. Several other similar assertions are found in these documents.

The Sri Lankans have unequivocally rejected this proclamation and treat it as a fabricated story initiated by a group of people with vested interest. It is a fact that these two councils are required to represent the public in its entirety. It appears that they have forgotten the balance of Sri Lankans population that they have a duty to represent. Their proclamation amounts to a discriminatory document against the other Sri Lankans (Sinhalese and Muslims alike) who have been victimized for decades by the LTTE and subjected to so many suicide attacks killing thousands of loved ones indiscriminately. They have argued:

· If Genocide happened since 1948, how do you account for the growth of a Tamil population (2.72%) in Sinhala dominating areas. This is almost double their growth that of the growth in their so-called homeland (1.44% per annum). The total number of Tamils in these Sinhala areas grew from 79,100 in 1911 to 530,138 by 1981 or more than seven times. (2012 Sri Lanka census data)

· Can you think of a nation in the world where an ethnic population grew 7-fold, if they have encountered genocide?

· During the war years (1981 to 2009) the Sri Lankan Tamil population grew in almost all the Sinhala dominating areas. Particularly in the Western province where about 60% of the national GDP is generated, the Tamils grew by 1.32% per annum from 228,516 to 339,370 while the Majority population grew at a lower rate -1.30% per annum.

· The Western province which is the heart of Sri Lanka where the Majority lived would have wiped out the Tamils through their “Sinhala-Buddhist centric government policies, land grabs and ethnic cleansing” (as claimed by MPP Thanigasalam) . The fact remains that the Tamil population increased by 48% from 1981 to 2012 in Sinhala areas whereas the Sinhalese (The perpetrator) increased only by 47.6% during the same period. These appear to be blatant lies of the proposer to deceive educated Ontarians.

At this juncture, we are inclined to check the authenticity of the claims presented by the esteemed Municipal council members. It seems that they have failed to consider several factors and facts before the decisions were made.

The Sri Lankans have raised the following concerns:

1) Where do you find evidence, proven and legally accepted that there was a genocide in Sri Lanka? The Oxford dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate extermination of a people or nation” (The Concise Oxford Dictionary. 1990 11thedition). The International Court of Justice ratified the Genocide Convention, and, in its terms, Genocide means any of the acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. “We trust you, as Mayor and Councilors, are aware that there is no finding of genocide and or war crimes in Sri Lanka by any organization or body. We are yet to see a document authenticated by the UN and the SL government to prove that there was a “genocide” in Sri Lanka”.

2) “We are confident that the Council members are fully aware of the fact that the LTTE is a proscribed organization in over 32 countries including UN Security Council, Canada and USA”.

3) According to the submissions of the Sri Lankans, the atrocities inflicted by LTTE upon moderate Tamils, Sinhalese and the Muslims in Sri Lanka are numerous, multiphasic and multifaceted. The Councils are accusing a sovereign state not just a few individuals of Sri Lankan origin. The following are some instances:

4) The LTTE attacked so many civilian targets during its bloody fighting for 30 years. They Killed so many unarmed civilians in the rural villages bordering to their rebel control areas. They slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians in Capital of Sri Lanka Colombo. They bombed the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 1996 and killed innocent office workers in that huge building. They attacked the Colombo international Airport and destroyed six big commercial aircrafts and killed foreign nationals. they attacked Petroleum Storage Facilities. They killed about 140 Buddhist devotees in Anuradhapura who were in a meditation session. They attacked a holy Buddhist site of the Temple of Tooth Relic in Kandy. The LTTE attacked Muslims at prayer in Kattankudy in East Coast of Sri Lanka, killing nearly 180 worshippers inside their Mosque. Were they not crimes inflicted upon civilians?

5) It was not a war that was initiated by the government troopsrather a planned effort on the part of the LTTE to carve out a part of Sri Lanka as its “Elam” state within the island of Sri Lanka. Tamil people live in every part of in Sri Lanka without any problem. It is a fact that even today, most of the leading businesses are owned by them. If there were any discrimination how could a large number of Tamils run businesses in predominantly, non-Tamil areas?

6) Discrimination is an easy word LTTE sympathizers are making use of to attract the sympathy of others, especially, from people like the city counsellors who are not interested to dig into the real core picture of whole issue. There is ample evidence to show that Tamils occupied prominent positions in the SL government from time to time. Mr. Amirthalingam a Tamil leader was once the leader of opposition in the Parliament. Mr. Luxman kadiragamr (Tamil) was a very respected minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Sri Lankan from 1994 to 2005. He was assassinated by the LTTE in 2005. There were several supreme court judges e.g. Sri Skandarajah, doctors, Lawyers and university professors serving the Sri Lankan community since independence. Even today the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lankan is a Tamil. He is Dr. Indrajith Kumaraswami. The former Governor was also Tamil. He was Dr. Arjun Mahendra. The current Governor of the North Suren Raghavan is also a Tamil professional. Under these circumstances and given the true nature of this relationship and networks, it is illogical to say that the Tamils were persecuted from the time of independence.

7) It is true that there were several resolutions presented to UN agencies, meticulously drafted by LTTE supporters, but none of them has been accepted or proven legally. Although their documents claim that more than 100,000 Tamils were murdered, the numbers are a matter of contention.

8) The report presented to the British Parliament in 2017 by Lord Naseby PC, president of the All-Party British -Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group reveals several pertinent data and information to our arguments. Lord Naseby’s claim was based on the report of LtColonel Gash, the UK’s Military attaché in Colombo British High Commission during this period, who saw the war at first hand. It is these dispatches that prove beyond any doubt that there neverwas a policy to kill Tamil civilians and that the Civilian Casualties caught in the crossfire were only around 5,500 at most.It was revealed that the report of the UN Residentrepresentative in Colombo and his security advisor Gordon Weiss has declared that 7721 people were killed in the fighting in the last few months of the final battle. The victims of the 30-year war included the following categories: LTTE militants (the number of genuine civilians killed is unknown as none of the published figures distinguish between combatants, LTTE Auxiliary Forces Personnel, and genuine non-combatant civilians).The UNSG Panel sitting in New York estimated that during the last stage of the war, 40,000 Tamil people had been killed. The UNSG conclusions have come from the expatriate Tamils living in the US. The Amnesty International and the HRW commissioned a report from the American Society of Advancement of Science (AAAS) to determine the number killed after reviewing the high-resolution satellite imagery of the final battle ground. They were able to come up with the figure of 1346 burial spots

9) It is very strange to see that the proclamations approved by the city councils do not refer to any atrocities committed by LTTE to annihilate the innocent Sinhalese civilians in Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura and several other locations within the island. They also do not refer to the 295873 civilians who were kept by the LTTE as human shields.Nothing is mentioned about the 12000 LTTE fighting carders who surrendered to the Sri Lankan military. They were treated well and rehabilitated with trade skills released to the society. None of them were prosecuted because they were misguided and brainwashed.

10)Former LTTE cadres were enrolled in rehabilitation training camps and encouraged to acquire new trade skills. Do you consider these acts on the part of the Sri Lankan military as “Genocidal”?

11)Their proclamation refers to a “Tamil Nation”. The Tamils are not recognized as a Nation in Sri Lanka. They form a part of the nation of Sri Lanka which is a multi-lingual and multi-religious state.

12)Their last question is: On what authority that these two councils have declared and approved a proclamation about so -called genocide? In fact, the UN is the only organization, to the best of our knowledge, which is empowered to make such a decision with respect to other nations. It is crystal clear that you have acted outside of your jurisdiction and usurped into powers of Provincial and federal governments.

13)If a provincial recognition of genocide is to take place, either a UN declaration of genocide and a breach of the Genocide Convention, or perhaps where there has been a conviction under s.318 of the criminal code, which is the definition of genocide for the purposes of Canadian criminal law needs to exist. In this case of Bill 104, there is no such supportive evidence.

14)In the absence of a federal declaration, a UN resolution or a criminal finding, it would seem that the provincial legislature would not on its own be able to simply declare something to be a genocide without going through a long procedure to make that finding first.

15)There is ample evidence that several International administrators, experts and organizations have declared that there was NO genocide in Sri Lanka during the period in question. For instance:

a. The UN resident representative in Colombo reporting a total of 7721 killings between end of August 2008 and May 13, 2009.

b. The report submitted to the British Parliament in 2017 by Lord Naseby PC, President of the All-Party British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group reveals that it was proven beyond any doubt that there was no policy to kill Tamil civilians and the causalities of civilians’ amount to about 5,500.

c. Although it was true that there were several resolutions presented to UN agencies,meticulously drafted by LTTE supporters but none of them has been accepted or proven legally.

d. The UNHCR. Several documents.

e. The Maxwell Paranagama Commission on missing persons in Sri Lanka was assisted by a team of international legal and military experts. They include Right Honourable Sir Desmond de Silva (UK)Professor Geoffrey Nice (UK), Professor David Crane (USA), Mr. Rodney Dixon, QC, (UK/South Africa), William Fenrick (Canada), Professor Nina Jorgensen of Harvard University and Major General Sir John Holmes (UK). They all concluded that the Sri Lankan forces had not violate international HR or committed war crimes.

16) The Sri Lankans in Ontario have strongly asked the two councils to justify their decision with evidence and on democratic ground. The Sri Lankans in their submissions have indicated that there are more Sri Lankan voters (Both Sinhalese and Tamil) living in these two municipality who do not endorse this kind of moves with narrow political agendas. The have emphasized the fact with a caution that this kind of unwarranted sensitive political propaganda may harm the peaceful coexistence of the peaceful Sri Lankan people living in Canada.

17)Finally, the Sri Lankans have strongly appeal to the two mayors to revoke it in fairness to every Sri Lankan living in their Municipalities. The Sri Lankans are apparently getting ready to take a legal stand against the councils if these proclamations are not revoked.

18)The Councils need to understand that there is a large population of Sri Lankans that contribute to the growth of the city of Brampton as well as city of Toronto and have been instrumental in helping the mayors to gain offices.

19)It is reliably understood that the so-called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) is losing ground among the Tamils in Toronto, and without enacting a new act like this, they will further lose credibility on a fake government which no other state has officially recognized. According to Anthropologists, traditions are “invented” in order to maintain them.

20)The Total Tamil population in Canada amounts to about 300,000 people. This is undoubtedly a captive audience for the Canadian politicians to perform their political drama as the new elections are coming soon.

Sarath Chandrasekere Ph.D