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Canadian civil activists vow support to Tamil struggle for national liberation

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 2 November 2011 10:09 No Comment]

In a significant move after Canada’s largest peace organisation, the Canadian Peace Alliance and Canada’s largest trade union, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, recently resolving to support Eezham Tamils Right to Self-Determination, hundreds of non-Tamil activists in Canada have taken part in the Pongku Thamizh rally, the biggest politico-cultural event held Saturday afternoon by Canadian Tamils after 2009 Mu’l'livaaykkaal genocide. “The struggle for Tamil Eelam is legitimate and represents the essence of human dignity and justice. We will continue to unequivocally support Tamil student organizers as the struggle for national liberation moves into the international sphere,” said James Clark, the organizer of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War while addressing the thousands who thronged the Queen’s Park in Toronto.

29_10_2011_ca_10_95744_445A number of solidarity activists from civil society and grassroots movements across Canada addressed the gathering.

“In 2009, the mass demonstrations by the Tamil community inspired many of the people now involved with Occupy Toronto, said Jesse McLaren, an emergency room doctor and activist with Occupy Toronto.

“We wanted to join the Tamil Freedom Rally and to continue building solidarity between different struggles against oppression,” Jesse McLaren said.

The event firmly re-articulated the principles of Tamil nation, homeland, and self-determination.

“We are disturbed that two years after the end of the war—marred by grave allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity—the Sri Lankan government still refuses to provide a political solution that addresses the political demand for self-determination, ” said Pablo Vivanco, an organizer with the Latin American Solidarity Network.

“As a Latin American, I understand the brutal consequences of imperialism and the subsequent necessity of a liberation struggle. I stand with you in solidarity for Tamil freedom and independence from Sri Lankan genocide,” Mr. Vivanco further said.

Members of the Jaffna University Students’ Union are facing violent persecution and intimidation at the hands of the Sri Lankan intelligence apparatus. In the last month alone, the President of the Students’ Union and another member were brutally attacked for being critical of the Sri Lankan occupation.

“The Canadian Student Movement will continue to support Tamil students and their struggle for freedom in Canada,” said Sandy Hudson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students—Ontario. “We call on the Sri Lankan government to immediately stop its campaign of terror against the student organizers of Tamil Eelam.”

“We will continue working with students around the world to build international solidarity for Tamil students living under constant military rule” said Priyanth, spokesperson for the Tamil Youth Organization—Canada. “We demand the release of all political prisoners and an end to the occupation of our homeland in the NorthEast,” Priyanth said.

The speakers at the Pongu Tamil rally spoke strongly in favour of international campaign to end the genocide of the Tamil people and a sustainable political solution based on self-determination were James Clark, (organizer, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War), Sid Lacombe (coordinator, Canadian Peace Alliance), Sandy Hudson (Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario); John Cartwright (President, Toronto & North York Region Labour Council); Carolyn Egan (President, Toronto Area Council of the United Steel Workers); Pablo Vivanco (organizer with the Latin American Solidarity Network), Angela Reignier (Communications Director, Canadian Association of University of Teachers); Abdalla Al-Baalawy (Vice President External, Scarborough Campus Students’ Union); Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party, Member of Provincial Parliament); Bhawan Kaur (organizer, Sikh Activist Network); and Jim Karygiannis (Liberal Party, Member of Parliament).

The event was covered in both the Tamil community media and by mainstream national and local media. Mainstream television, radio, and print media in Canada referred to the Pongku Thamizh rally as the “Tamil Rally for Freedom” and described the thousands of flags at the rally as the flags of Tamil Eelam.

“A UN report, prominent human rights groups, and governments are all calling for an international inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity. Now we need to start addressing the root cause of the ethnic conflict in the island of Sri Lanka,” said Krisna Saravanamuttu, the spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Tamils. “We want to see an immediate end to military rule and colonization of the Tamil homeland. A political solution based on the democratic aspiration for self-determination is the immediate issue of the hour.”

The first Pongku Thamizh demonstration was organized by the Jaffna University Students’ Union in January 2001 as a response to the Sri Lankan military campaign of abuses, disappearances, and mass graves. The event organized by the students of Jaffna University attracted thousands of peaceful participants and has grown into a global uprising for Tamil self-determination in their traditional homeland in the NorthEast.

“The global war on terror criminalized the Tamil resistance movement and labelled the national liberation struggle as terrorist. The rally represented a major political shift in the discourse around the Tamil national question. Tamils and their progressive allies around the world agree that only an accommodation of self-determination will ensure a long and sustainable peace for all peoples in the island of Sri Lanka,” a Canadian Tamil student activist told media.

[Full Coverage]

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