HR Day event in Toronto brings Tamils closer to global progressive networks
More than twenty social, economic, and environmental justice groups in Canada that joined together in Toronto on the eve of International Human Rights Day to forge a common forum against military occupation, apartheid, genocide and political imprisonment, have voiced against the SL military detention of the students of the University of Jaffna. The event gains significance as the recently formed Coalition for Tamil Rights was invited to represent the perspectives of Eezham Tamils along with other progressive forces. On the occasion of the event, activists of socio-political organizations in Canada condemned the arrests and detentions of Tamil students of the University of Jaffna in the SL military occupied country of Eezham Tamils. The activists demanded immediate release of the students and called for an end to the Sri Lankan military occupation of the Tamil homeland.
The solidarity event of activist communities from across Toronto took place at United Steel Workers Hall in Toronto on Sunday, 09 December.
“We call on the Sri Lankan government to immediately end its occupation of the Tamil homeland, vacate Jaffna University campus, and release the student leaders,” Peter Hogarth of the International Socialists told TamilNet adding that the International Socialists extends its solidarity to the students who have been locked up in this politically motivated move by the Sri Lankan state.
Sid Lacombe of Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), Canada’s largest peace coalition group and is a partner of the Coalition for Tamil Rights, said: “Sri Lanka’s so-called reconciliation process is based on nothing more than militarization and genocide. We will be closely monitoring and bringing to light to our fellow Canadians the real nature of Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process.”
“We demand the immediate release of the Jaffna student leaders and support their right to resist,” Mr Lacombe said.
Torontonians engaged in film screenings, a human rights fair, songs and spoken word poetry performances. The event culminated with a panel discussion on specific human rights struggles being organized in Toronto.
Monira Kitmitto from the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid described the historical dispossession of the Palestinian people and their globally supported strategy of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) to end Apartheid in Israel.
Ms Kitmitto explained that the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel is to force it to comply with international law. The campaign aims to end the occupation of Palestine and dismantle the apartheid wall, protect and promote the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and ensure equal rights for all Palestinians living with Israel.
“BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice,” she said.
Ilian Burbano spoke on behalf of the Latin American Caribbean Solidarity Network, a non-profit umbrella organization, which brings together organizations that carry out work in solidarity with the progressive and democratic transformation processes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mr Burbano described in detail the anti mining, indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice struggles happening throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Alex Filipe, an organizer with Bayan (Canada), a network of Filipino organizations linked to the national liberation struggle in the Philippines, said that the danger of the so-called liberal agenda which only seeks to deal with individual’s rights violations while ignoring the violations of group rights, should be exposed.
Mr Filipe touched on the similarities between what he called as the “US-Marcos fascist regime” and the “US-backed Arroyo regime”, both scheming to stay in power while perpetrating some of the worst human rights violations in the history of the Philippines.
Krisna Saranamuttu, representing the Coalition for Tamil Rights, addressing the audience at the event said that the Sri Lankan state was seeking to complete its project of dismantling the nationhood of the Eezham Tamils in their territorial homeland through military occupation, colonization, and the denial of fundamental political and civil liberties.
Countering the ‘reconciliation’ myth, he told the packed audience that the political imprisonment of the Jaffna student leaders and their persecution by the Sri Lankan military is part of its terror campaign against civilians even after militarily crushing the Tamils resistance movement through a genocidal war three years ago.
Mr Saravanamuttu, who is a second-generation Eezham Tamil activist and recipient of the British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, talking to TamilNet after the event said: “We must build a genuine global struggle based on human justice and freedom that exposes the complicity of the International Community of Establishments in our nation’s genocide. In the post Mu’l'livaaykkaal era, the Tamil liberation struggle requires a nuanced and mature political strategy that no longer begs for justice from the same powerful governments and institutions that are aiding and abetting our nation’s genocide.”
The Coalition for Tamil Rights consists of workers, students, academics and activists from across the Canadian civil society to support the Tamil struggle for self-determination and to voice for the immediate end of the military occupation and colonization of the Tamil homeland.