80 Tamil community organizations from across Canada have come together in an initiative to create a consensus outlining their collective position and guiding principles on Tamil struggle-centric engagement.The General Assembly organizers said that the consensus document, prepared through a five-months process was presented to all the participating grassroots, community and political organisations in Canada at the event held in the Toronto City Hall Council Chamber on Sunday 13 April 2014.
Below are the 34 points adopted as the official position of the Tamil Community in Canada at the Tamil Community General Assembly:
- The Eelam Tamils are a nation in the island called Ceylon since the times of the earliest known documentary and archaeological evidences, culminating in having their historically and geographically defined homeland, distinct language, culture and collective consciousness.
- They temporarily lost their sovereignty to Portuguese (1505) colonial conquest, followed by the Dutch (1656) and the British (1818) and did not regain it at the end of the European colonialism in 1948.
- They have a continued history of democratically struggling to share their sovereignty with the Sinhala nation for 30 years since the independence of Ceylon, the failure of which culminated in the historic Vaddukkodai Resolution of 1976, which was endorsed by a mandate of the Eelam Tamil nation in the 1977 parliamentary general elections.
- The abject failure of the non-violent and peaceful democratic struggle (1948-1983), due to state oppression and state-aided pogroms against unarmed Tamil civilians, led to another 30 years of militant struggle which culminated in Eelam Tamils earning their sovereignty in a de facto state that was tacitly recognized in an internationally-recognized Peace Accord in 2002.
- The Tamil political body identified by the de facto state winning the elections in 2004 shows the endorsement of Eelam Tamils to the de facto state that came into being by earned sovereignty.
- Tipping the balance against the de facto state which led to war crimes and on-going genocide is now indirectly acknowledged by the UN’s internal review panel report (Petrie Report) and Norway’s evaluation report of the peace process.
- Under the guise of a “post-conflict reconciliation” charade, Sri Lanka is continuing a systematic and accelerated process of genocide in the militarily occupied Tamil homeland in the North and East of the island.
- Women and children are the most vulnerable in the context of military occupation and an ongoing genocide. Documented evidence reveals widespread and systematic rape of Tamil women as part of the collective genocidal policy of the Sri Lankan state.
- The current ground realities in the Tamil homeland, include heavy militarization, accelerated State-aided Sinhala colonization, and structural abuse of Eelam Tamils, all targeted to destroy the identity of the Tamil nation and the territorial contiguity of the Tamil homeland.
- The current Sri Lankan constitution, especially the 6th amendment, prevents the representatives of the Tamil nation domiciled in the island from freely articulating the political aspirations of the Eelam Tamils.
- Any just solution for the Eelam Tamils cannot be confined to the existing parameters of the Sri Lankan constitution and must be based on the recognition of Eelam Tamils as a nation.
- Any just solution for the Eelam Tamil nation will rightfully incorporate a just and equitable resolution on the question of the Muslim community and other communities in the Tamil homeland.
Responsibility of the international community to guarantee justice to Eelam Tamils:
- Following the United Nations Internal Review, the Secretary General of the United Nations accepted the United Nation’s failure to protect the Tamil people in the island.
- The international community must recognize and guarantee the collective rights of the Tamil nation. Such a guarantee must be considered only on the acknowledgement of the Eelam Tamils as a nation, with their distinct territoriality in the North and East of the island.
- There needs to be an immediate and complete removal of the Sri Lankan military and security forces from the Tamil homeland, including the disarming of the paramilitaries.
- The United Nations has the responsibility of maintaining a local presence in assisting the Tamils of the North and East to sustain their livelihood in the face of genocide. The removal of impartial international aid organizations from the North and East makes it easier for the Sri Lankan military to forcibly acquire Tamil-owned lands.
- Any internal mechanism by the Sri Lankan state like the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to address the systemic injustices meted out to the Tamils is fundamentally flawed, and only an independent international investigation into the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, as espoused in the 2010/2013 Permanent People’s Tribunal’s findings, can bring justice to the victims.
- Despite efforts to address issues of truth, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, the international community has not yet expressed a political will to pursue an international investigation in the spirit of finding a solution to the national question of Eelam Tamils. Limiting the scope of any potential inquiry to just war crimes could result only in a regime change, with investigations not having the authority to hold all those culpable to account. An investigation into the crime of genocide would be most likely to create the environment conducive for genuine justice and accountability.
The Permanent People’s Tribunal has concluded that Sri Lanka is guilty of Genocide for the following reasons:
(a) Killing members of the group, which includes massacres, indiscriminate shelling, the strategy of herding civilians into so called “No Fire Zones” for the purpose of massive killings, targeted assassinations of outspoken Eelam Tamil civil leaders who were capable of articulating the Sri Lankan genocide project to the outside world.
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, including acts of torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, sexual violence including rape, interrogations combined with beatings, threats of death, and harm that damages health or causes disfigurement or injury.
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, including expulsions of the victims from their homes, seizures of private lands, declaring vast areas as military High Security Zone (HSZ) to facilitate the military acquisition of Tamil land.
Further, the Tribunal considered evidence related to;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group including forced sterilization and coerced contraception of Eelam Tamil women. Further investigation is required on the extent of this practice in other regions before a determination is made on whether these could be considered genocidal acts.
- There is an immediate need for an internationally supported transitional administration to halt the ongoing genocide of Eelam Tamils.
- The provincial councils are not a solution to the political aspirations of Tamils. The recent provincial council elections displayed the rejection from the Tamil people to be ruled by the Colombo regime. The Tamil people voted for the de-militarization of the North and East, the preservation of the territorial contiguity of the Tamil homeland, the right to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the Tamil liberation struggle, and a political solution not compromising their inalienable right to self-determination. Further, Sri Lanka is a unitary state structure; the executive powers are with the President. The President, through their appointed Governor can revoke any decisions or powers of the provincial council.
- To provide the political space for Eelam Tamils to express their political aspirations, an internationally monitored referendum should be conducted among Eelam Tamils of North and East descent in the island of Sri Lanka, in the diaspora and among the refugees in India and elsewhere, to arrive at a just political solution.
- A referendum has been used historically to determine the political will of many nations. The Tamils in the homeland cannot articulate their real political aspirations without the 6th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution being repealed. The Tamil diaspora and refugees in Tamil Nadu, who are also part of the Tamil nation, is the only people who can advance the claim for a referendum without fear of persecution. Until the Sri Lankan government repeals the 6th amendment Eelam Tamils under occupation cannot freely express their political aspirations. A referendum provides the Tamil Nation with a mechanism for them to exercise their inalienable right to choose their own political destiny.
- The ongoing genocide of the Tamil nation is aided and abetted by institutions, governments, and bodies outside the purview of the Sri Lankan state structure, making them complicit in the ongoing genocide. These external actors have a responsibility to halt the ongoing genocide of the Tamil nation and guarantee the collective rights of the Tamils.
The responsibility of the Tamil diaspora:
- To be the political voice for Tamils in the homeland who are denied the fundamental right to freely articulate their political aspirations due to the 6th amendment and the absence of a safe political space.
- To continue assisting Tamils in the homeland sustain their existence in the face of genocide. The diaspora continues their assistance through various grassroots non-governmental organizations, charities, temples, village associations and school associations.
Acknowledging the efforts made by the Canadian government towards truth, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, the Tamil community urges the Canadian government to pursue the following as productive next steps:
- Acknowledge that any internal mechanism by the Sri Lankan state to address the systemic injustices meted out to the Tamils is fundamentally flawed.
- Actively call for the establishment of an independent, international, and impartial investigation into the charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes to ensure truth, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka.
- Pursue alternative strategies such as diplomatic and economic sanctions as well as travel restrictions for Government of Sri Lanka officials.
- Acknowledge that only a political solution based on the recognition of the Tamil people as a nation with the right to self-determination can result in justice and accountability.
- Support the call from the Tamil community for a transitional administration and an internationally monitored referendum on the national question of Eelam Tamils.
- Acknowledge that despite the armed conflict ending in 2009, the threat of persecution remains a reality for Tamils in the island. This should be weighted heavily in claimants’ case proceedings regarding political asylum and refugee status.
The Tamil community’s expectations from Canadian municipalities and provinces:
- To continue the cooperative relationship between Canadian municipalities and provinces to further strengthen the support structures for the Tamil community across Canada in areas of social, cultural and economic development.
The effects of proscribing Tamil community activism:
- The Tamil community rejects the proscription of 16 Tamil diaspora organizations along with 424 individuals by the Government of Sri Lanka. The list of organizations includes the National Council of Canadian Tamils, Tamil Youth Organization, the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam and the Canadian Tamil Congress. This serves as a preventative measure for the Tamil diaspora to continue campaigning for the right to self-determination of the Tamil nation. This reactionary measure adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka reflects its lack of commitment towards genuine truth, accountability and justice.
- The proscription of Tamil diaspora organizations and individuals by the Sri Lankan government is an attempt to weaken the campaign for a just political solution for Eelam Tamils. This decision draws its lineage from the proscription of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which has had consequential effects on the lives of Tamil Canadians in their social, cultural and political spheres. The discourse of terrorism continues to be used to deny, suppress and intimidate Tamil Canadians against confidently exercising their constitutional rights. Further, it prevents human rights campaigners from building international support to stop the genocide of the Eelam Tamil nation.