Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement on Thursday regarding the UN Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel Report on Sri Lanka. Offering support to the report, the statement laid stress on the failure of the Sri Lankan government to make progress on ‘reconciliation, accountability and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka’. Responding to this, Tamil activists in Canada told TamilNet “ if the Canadian government is genuinely concerned about ensuring that mistakes made in Sri Lanka are not repeated, then they must acknowledge that addressing the fundamental national question of Eezham Tamils and providing justice for the genocide they suffered should be a prerequisite to any ‘work’ of the international community.”
The statement by the Canadian government’s Foreign Affairs department comes after the release of the UN Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel Report that has determined a ‘systemic failure’ of the UN in its handling of the last stages of the war in the island.
In the statement, Baird acknowledges that the “Sri Lankan government continues to fail victims and survivors alike” and that “the measures it has taken to date simply do not go far enough.”
The statement further says, “The Prime Minister and I take every opportunity to raise Canada’s concerns with respect to the need for progress on reconciliation, accountability and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka.” “Canada also notes the Secretary General’s comments and will work with the international community to ensure mistakes made in Sri Lanka are not repeated.”
The statement remains silent on the issue of ‘UN systemic failure’ and on any clear action plan despite a hollow commitment to ensure that the mistakes made should not be repeated.
“The statement reflects the limitations of the Canadian government to stay within the parameters of a unitary state structure and imposition of a Sri Lankan identity as the basis for any solution. These limitations must be challenged by community activists,” Eezham Tamil activists in Canada commented.
They further said that, “One should be cautious in the optimism being shown by some on the latest UN report. The report commends the Secretary General for his. The acknowledgement by the UN of its internal failure is meaningless to Eezham Tamils without the political will of the international community to rectify the wrongs. That political will must address the fundamental national question of Eezham Tamils as a prerequisite to any ‘work’ of the international community including the acknowledgment of the protracted genocide endured by Eezham Tamils. This should be the goal of Eezham Tamil activists using the UN report as a tool to move the interests of the Tamil Nation forward.”
Separately, in a press release dated 16 November, the British Tamils’ Forum criticized the UN that “Publishing reports after reports will not stop the continuing structural genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.”
“However critical this UN internal review report is, it has come too late for the tens of thousands who were massacred under the UN watch despite the loudest and continuous alarm bells rung across the world capitals, by the relatives of those who perished. However, what is more alarming presently is the continuing inaction by the international community to arrest the deteriorating situation faced by the Tamil people,” the BTF statement said.
“What is of utmost importance is an immediate establishment of an international investigative mechanism to send a very clear signal to the Sri Lankan regime that the international community will not stand by any longer allowing the State to continue its programme of Tamil Genocide. Another report in another six months time will be too late for those who would have perished in the hands of the Sri Lankan regime or while trying to flee the island,” the statement further said.