Stephen Harper's Government Has Let Down the Tamils
Tamil Canadians have and continue to observe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been rather slow to take notice of Sri Lanka’s on-going conflict. Not only that, but the Tamil Canadians are watching with such agony as their loved ones are slowly being eliminated by the Sri Lankan government and the Canadian government is oblivious to it. The Sri Lankan government has rejected the call for a ceasefire even after UN and EU have made such request.
Just in the past weeks, three hospitals that were deemed to have been safe were bombed by the Sri Lankan government, and the Defence Minister Gotabhaya in an interview for SkyNews has stated that hospitals are “legitimate military targets”.
Bombing hospitals is a war crime under Geneva Convention in which Sri Lanka is a signatory. Over and over, the Sri Lankan government has taken part in what is known as closed door killings. They take random people and bury them under unmarked graves after ruthlessly killing them. Such killings are taking place in the Vanni Region in the past few weeks. This is evident in the fact that many of the displaced individuals do not seem to know the whereabouts of some of their loved ones.
The Sri Lankan government is not allowing journalists and other media personnel entering war zones and reporting from there, thus making it very hard for the international community to know about what is actually happening on the war fields. Independent monitors are not allowed in the war zone to observe human rights violations and to enforce the safety of the Tamil people.
The headquarters of ICRC in Sri Lanka was attacked by a mob in Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka. This also raises a valid question of how credible the Sri Lankan government is in protecting the international aid organizations that are known for their unbiased stance in situations like these. The welfare villages initiated by the Sri Lankan government are nothing but mere 'concentration camps' under disguise that is holding over 30,000 Tamil people without freedom of movement.
Going back in history, the welfare villages in disguise are a direct analogy to Hitler’s concentration camps for the Jews. Moreover, the Sri Lankan government allocated safe zones in which the Tamil civilians were encouraged to move into in order to avoid the bombs and artillery shelling. What is more brutal is the use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lankan army. These bombs are currently prohibited from use, but are being heavily used by the Sri Lankan army. As a result, tens and hundreds of Tamil civilians are being killed on a daily basis in these safety zones.
Why is it that the Canadian government is not taking a speedy action to all this atrocity? After having seen the emergency debate, there was little hope that something will be done to save the lives of those innocent Tamil people in Sri Lanka. However, seeing that nothing has been done to urge the Sri Lankan government to lay down their arms, I want to know if the Canadian government has given up on this cause.
It is of the opinion of many of the Tamil Canadians that the Canadian government is not taking into consideration that many of our loved ones are in danger. Canada is not taking the necessary action to assure its citizens of its reputation as a peace keeping country. The announcement to send $3 million to the displaced Tamil people in Sri Lanka looked positive. However, many analysts believe that $3 million aid money is to calm the angry Tamil Canadians and a ploy to silence them from telling the world about the truth (i.e. the genocide of the Tamils of Sri Lanka).
In Canada, the Canadian citizens with Tamil origins are constantly faced with repression and intimidation by Canadian security agencies and the Sri Lankan government. In a country where freedom of speech is greatly emphasized, it is astonishing to note that these citizens are not allowed to speak out for their loved ones from Sri Lanka. Canadian security agencies have a way of bringing down fear upon these individuals and silence them. During the many peaceful events that are attended by thousands of citizens of Tamil origin, the Canadian security agencies do not forget to make their mark there.
They are seen everywhere photographing these individuals and treating them like some wanted criminals. In the recent past, the Canadian police raided a Tamil cultural centre that is prominent for promoting the Tamil language and culture to young children. The raid took place while these young children were present at the centre. It is very hard to imagine the trauma that these young children must have gone through. It is very sad to note that many individuals of Tamil origin who have no connection whatsoever to terrorism are targeted by Canadian security agencies for supporting exactly that.
The decision by the Canadian government to add the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to its “terror list” has left the Tamil community in Canada with a bad reputation. Although this decision was made by the Canadian government, it was fully backed up by the Sri Lankan government. It is a very interesting fact that Canada had banned the LTTE during the peace talk period back in year 2006. It was the banning of the LTTE that has brought all Tamil people to this dire situation. By banning the LTTE, Canada had indirectly given the go ahead message to the Sri Lankan government for further killings. This shows that Canada has played a destructive role in trying to initiate peace within Sri Lanka than a constructive role.
Today Tamil Canadians are helpless and look to the Canadian government to see how many lives will be taken away before it takes an active role in protecting their loved ones back in Sri Lanka.