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Canadian academics support self-determination, ask direct US action

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 20:11 No Comment]

Stressing on the recognition of the self-determination of Tamils as the basis for any solution to the crisis in the island of Sri Lanka, Canadian Academics for Tamil Rights in a press conference Wednesday in Toronto said that the proscription of the LTTE had affected the peace initiatives and Canada was a party to be blamed. “As an immediate remedy to the grave situation at the moment, the IC and UN should take food and medicine directly to Vanni and if not possible they should pressure the US to do it. It may look strange, but it is the only option if any one wants to save the lives of the people in Vanni”, was the opinion expressed in the press conference, citing the urgency.


06_05_09_canada_01_80727_445 From left to right: profs. Malcolm Blincow, Glynis George, Alan Sears, Cheran, Sharryn Aiken, Judy Rebic and Aparna Sundar

The press conference at Hotel Marriot Wednesday, attended by local, national and international media, was a sequence to a statement sent to the Prime Minister of Canada by the academic forum last week, signed by 125 academic professionals of the various universities and institutions of Canada and by prominent academic personalities.

The root cause of the problem is the inability or unwillingness of the Sinhala Buddhist state to transform or restructure itself to accommodate Tamil aspirations, the speakers of the conference pointed out.
The crisis is more than 60 years old. For more than 30 years the Tamils were waging a non-violent struggle. Unfortunately, the media today concentrates only on the last 30 years, was a concern of the conference speakers.

“Our aim in issuing this statement was to call on the Canadian Government to take a stand on the situation in Sri Lanka”, said Aparna Sundar, Professor of Political Science, Ryerson University, welcoming the press.
Talking on the initiative of the Canadian academics, "The largest Tamil diaspora outside of Sri Lanka is in Canada," said Professor Aiken, Professor of Law at Queen’s University and a member of the Group, adding that "the fact that so many Canadian Tamils are continuing to lose familymembers and friends in the ongoing crisis is what prompted us as concerned Canadian academics to stand in solidarity with them."
Another member of the group, Ryerson University Sociology Professor Alan Sears said: "We have a responsibility to act in the face of the humanitarian and human rights catastrophe confronting the Tamil population of Sri Lanka. The level of mobilizations among Tamils in Toronto has been truly impressive, and they are asking for our solidarity so they do not feel they are facing this crisis alone."

Sharryn Aiken, Professor of Law, Queens University, in her comments said: "while there is no doubt that the Tigers must change their stripes, canada’s proscription of the LTTE in concert with the EU, the United States and a number of other countries has had the effect of further marginalizing moderate voices within the Tamil militant movement and destroying the prospects for a political solution"

Professors Alan Sears, Sharryn Aiken, Aparna Sundar, Glynis George (Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor) R.Cheran (Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor) Malcolm Blincow (Anthropology, York University) and Judy Rebic (Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University), participated the conference.

[Full Coverage]

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