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Tamils desperate to help homeland – Edmonton Sun

[MISC, Sunday, 28 June 2009 13:20 No Comment]

The Tamil community in Edmonton met with human rights experts yesterday for a forum to discuss the dire conditions in which nearly 300,000 displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka have been living, a spokesman said.

More than 350 people gathered at a southside conference room to hear a professor, lawyer and non-profit human rights group representative, among others, speak about the unstable situation in Sri Lanka and how the international community can help.

Priya Ajay, a spokesman at the forum, who left behind friends and classmates in Sri Lanka 15 years ago when she moved to Canada, said organizing awareness events helps the Edmonton Tamil community feel like they’re making a difference for their counterparts half a world away.

"The Sri Lankan government is celebrating victory of war (against the Tamil Tigers), but approximately 300,000 Tamils are in concentration camps. And 80,000 of those are children. Most have lost parents. People in the camps are facing starvation and disease," she said.

Ajay, 28, heard from some relatives that old classmates of hers were among them.

"By doing this kind of public forum, it makes us feel we’re doing something for these people," she said. "We’re feeling helpless here."

She has also participated in rallies and vigils since January, calling on Ottawa to voice its opposition to what she called human rights violations.

"It’s a very scary situation. I can’t imagine myself in that place," she said.

John Argue, Sri Lanka co-ordinator for Amnesty International Canada, came from Toronto to speak at the event and liaise with the Tamil community here.

[Full Coverage]

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