Condemning the brutal assaults on the students of University of Jaffna by the occupying Sri Lanka’s police and military apparatus that has been happening with intensity since Tuesday, the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), the York Federation of Students (YFS), the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), and the Tamil Youth Organization-Canada (TYO-Canada) have issued statements supporting both the civil and political liberties of the Eezham Tamil students in the homeland as well as the democratic right of the Tamil nation to self-determination.
The CPA, largest umbrella peace coalition in Canada with over 180 member organizations, in a release dated 28 November, echoed the call of the Jaffna students’ demand for international observers to have access to the campus to witness the behaviour of Sri Lankan military personnel.
"We stand in solidarity with students at the University of Jaffna, and demand the immediate release of all those taken into custody" said Derrick O’Keefe, co-chair of the CPA. "Their right to freedom of assembly, expression and speech must be protected."
"This incident is only the latest in a long history of oppression of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka," said Chris Jones, the Alliance’s other co-chair, adding that "The Sri Lankan government must respect the Tamils’ right to self-determination, and end the harassment of Tamil students on their own campus."
In a release dated November 28, the SCSU, which represents close to 11,000 fulltime and part-time students at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus, said “Due to the oppressive nature of militarization on campuses, the SCSU sees that militarization anywhere worldwide as a threat to access to education. When students who try to express their views in a peaceful manner get brutally attacked for political reasons, they can’t engage in an academic environment. For these reasons the SCSU chooses to condemn the attacks the Sri Lankan military committed to the peaceful protestors.”
"The SCSU strives to fight inequalities wherever they might exist. We stand in solidarity with the protestors. Unfortunately this serves as a reminder of the constant state of oppression Tamil’s face, and should reenforce the need for self determination and a separate Tamil state", said Guled Arale, Vice-President External, SCSU.
The YFS, which represents over 54,000 undergraduate students at York University, in a release on November 29, conveying its solidarity with the right of the Eezham Tamil students in the Tamil homeland to observe Maaveerar Naal, said “The York Federation of Students, stands united with the Tamil students who chose to commemorate such a significant event. The York Federation of Students stands in solidarity with the Tamil students who were urging international non-governmental organizations to recognize the punitive action taken against their peaceful assembly.”
"These occurrences are not new to Tamil students at this university, and continue to serve as a reminder of the constant state of oppression in which the Tamil people in Sri Lanka live. Until the right to self-determination, homeland and nation are recognized, Tamil students and people will constantly be under attack," said Jessica Thyriar, Vice-President, Campus Life.
In a release on Wednesday, TYO-Canada called on “the United Nations and the International Community to place meaningful pressure on the Sri Lankan regime for the immediate release of the Tamil students who are detained. Furthermore we call on the UN and the International Community to demand Sri Lanka to stop the intimidation, harassment and attacks on Tamils.”
TYO reiterated that the occupation of the Tamil homeland by the Sri Lankan military must cease and called for civilian rule in the Tamil homeland.
“It is a sad day for all of us when our brothers and sisters cannot have basic fundamental rights every student should have. The right to organize, and the right to mobilize are all democratic values as Canadians we cherish” said Priyanth Nallaratnam, member of TYO-Canada.
Recognizing that the latest incidents are but part of a long history of the violent oppression of the civil liberties of the Eezham Tamils, TYO-Canada called on the United Nations and the international community “to demand for a political solution to the Tamil national question based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people as a means of resolving the conflict in Sri Lanka.”