25 September, 2020

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A Walk To Keeping The Hope Alive

By Nimal Vinayagamoorthy –

Nimal Vinayagamoorthy

On the 30th of August 2020, marked as the UN International Day of the Disappeared, a group of Canadians determined to get Justice for the Disappeared Tamils started a long march of 424 kilometres. Their aim was to reach the capital city of Ottawa and to hand over a petition to the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau, on the 14th of September 2020. 

The civil war in Sri Lanka, seeking the right to self-determination, was fought for nearly three decades ending in a massive genocide of the Tamil people on the 18th of May 2009. The current President of the country was the then Defence Secretary and the present Prime Minister was the President. In the past eleven years since the ending of the genocide, there has not been a single case of a disappeared person returning home.

The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a documentary of Channel 4, clearly shows how thousands of Tamils suspected of links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were taken into custody by the Sri Lankan armed Forces and transported to undisclosed locations by buses and army trucks. The families of those taken as suspects are witnesses to the arrests and with a glimmer of hope await the return of those who surrendered. 

For nearly four years the Mothers, sisters and wives of those disappeared people have been protesting against the government in the North and East seeking their safe return. The previous government which came to power promising accountability and justice as well as complying with the UN conventions on Human Rights, severely failed in its task to seek the truth on behalf of the human rights loving people around the world.

This government comprises of perpetrators of genocide and war criminals who have committed the most heinous crimes against humanity. The entire world knows that Sri Lanka is a land of impunity. As the world progresses towards a better civilization and increases the value for human rights, the International Community must promptly remember its promise to the Tamils to seek accountability. 

As done in Sri Lanka’s peace talks in the 2000s, initiated by the international community with Norway’s lead, international governments and experts need to intervene to grant Tamils in Sri Lanka with their right to decide their political destination. 

The 2006 International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, now ratified or signed by 107 States, has spurred growing awareness of this issue, an increase in legislation criminalizing the practice, and mechanisms for the search of those disappeared. But in many countries, there are still unfulfilled promises, and the passage of time does not erase the intense suffering and anguish of those who do not know what happened to their loved ones.

The pains of the members of the families of the disappeared cannot the expressed in words. The terrible space of uncertainty where grieving feels like a betrayal of loved ones who might still be alive. There is no body to bury, no corpse to confirm the death; maybe, just maybe, an abducted son or husband or mother could still be alive, held in a secret prison somewhere. That’s an idea that gives hope, but it’s also an awful thought, almost unbearable – the possibility that a loved one is enduring the semi-existence of life in a clandestine prison, surviving torture and starvation.

There have been many reports on torture camps brought out by the International Truth and Justice Project. They have listed out torture camps which are still operational and with no access to any human rights groups as they are in the high security zones controlled by the armed forces. 

Sri Lanka has the dubious distinction of having the second highest numbers of enforced disappeared people after Iraq. In a civilised world there is no place for a nation that does not provide justice to its own people and treats the non-Sinhalese as unwanted people of the island. 

Though the previous government set up the now defunct Office of the Missing Persons, nothing substantial came out from this effort, other than buying time for Sri Lanka at the UN.

Sri Lanka has dared to pull out of its commitment to the UN resolutions 30/1, which it had co-sponsored in October 2015 and UN resolution 40/1 of March 2019 seeking extension by a couple of years. It is notable that none of the UN member nations have advised or condemned Sri Lanka against this act. 

By doing this Sri Lanka would join an elite group of countries including Israel and North Korea, not to comply with the UN resolutions, here the notable difference is Sri Lanka had co-sponsored the resolution and got enormous monetary benefits from the UN as well as the European Union.

As one the original sponsors of the UN Human Rights Council resolutions 19/2 of 22 March 2012, 22/1 of 21 March 2013 and 25/1 of 27 March 2014, it becomes the duty of Canada to seek justice on behalf of the Tamils who form one of the largest diaspora groups in the country. 

Canada as the world knows is a peace loving, justice seeking democracy which has strong roots in supporting and promoting human rights around the world. It is time Canada becomes the torch bearer to seek accountability and Justice from Sri Lanka for the genocide of the Tamils.

The Walk for Justice is a reminder to wake up the hearts of those who respect human rights across the world. It is a walk to rekindle the hopes of millions of suppressed nationalities seeking the Right to Self Determination, it is a wake up walk to set right the problem of Enforced Disappearance, not only in Sri Lanka but also in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina, Chile etc. 

It is also a walk to uphold democracy and seek Justice for people who seek freedom for their nationalities. It is a walk to give hope not just to the mothers, wives and sisters of the disappeared in Sri Lanka but across the globe. Sri Lanka needs to know that this denial of the genocide of Tamils cannot go on for long, all the like-minded people of Sri Lanka irrespective of their ethnic affiliation come out in the open and speak the truth. This menace of disappearance must disappear. 

*The Author is a Member of the TGTE and seeks a peaceful political solution to the Tamil Right to Self Determination.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    15

    Mr. Nimal Vinayagamoorthy,
    .
    It’s sad to hear that Tamils are Disappearing in Canada.
    .
    Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau must take prompt action and stop so called Enforced Disappearance of Tamils in Canada.
    .
    And….
    Please don’t drag our small country in to your affairs.

    • 14
      7

      A small country with big disappearances.

      • 2
        1

        And great determination….

    • 8
      2

      S. C. Passqual

      “Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau must take prompt action and stop so called Enforced Disappearance of Tamils in Canada.”

      Don’t you worry, Justin Trudeau is not capable of identifying impersonators such you are and would not have you detained and then deported back to Sri Lanka.

      • 1
        3

        Demalu Veddo,

        “Don’t you worry, Justin Trudeau is not capable of identifying impersonators such you are and would not have you detained and then deported back to Sri Lanka.”

        It is very common among you Tamils who have become a Refugee nuisance.

        By the way the person you are referring played sports at the highest level and did his studies too

    • 3
      1

      Please don’t waste yours and others time!
      Sri Lanka is bleeding due to racist and chauvinistic policies since the British left and it’s time to bring the accused war criminal to accountability as well as to hold a referendum under UN supervision / monitor for Tamils’ self determination.

  • 5
    13

    Don’t worry.

    Those who disappeared from Sri Lanka reappeared in Canada.

    • 7
      2

      GATAM

      “Those who disappeared from Sri Lanka reappeared in Canada.”

      Brilliant, Gota, Shavendra, Kamal, and their 15,000 fellow single handed generals ….. are in the wrong profession, …. they should consider following magicians, David Copperfield, David Blaine, Dynamo, …. beat them in disappearing ACTs.

      • 12
        2

        GATAM, according to Chandre Dharmawardena a flag bearer of Sinhala racism in Canada, even Ravana who disappeared from Sri Lanka has reappeared in Canada.
        Unfortunately war criminals cannot even make a first appearance in Canada.

      • 3
        1

        Do you want to join Gota, Shavendra, Kamal and other accused war criminals to the International Criminal Court?

        It is history and these guys will be “Accused War criminals” for ever until ICC investigates and Justice is delivered;

    • 3
      9

      GATAM,
      Not reappeared. Reincarnated under new identities.

      • 9
        2

        Is it like Mahindapala having reincarnated under new identity of eagle eye.

  • 7
    10

    At the time ‘Sudda’ fellows ruled Sinhale Malabar Vellala Tamils licked the sss of ‘Suddas’ to get privileges. Now ‘Suddas’ are licking the sss of Tamils to get their votes.

    • 3
      0

      You are licking the sss of a tamil woman.

  • 5
    1

    “…not only in Sri Lanka but also in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina, Chile etc. “

    Did you try to talk to people from these countries for a broader effort? If Sinhalese families whose loved ones were also disappeared by the GoSL during the JVP insurrections are willing to join, they should be allowed to. Which brings us to the question of who should lead such efforts. It cannot be the TGTE. It has to be led by people who are not tainted by any previous affiliation with the LTTE.

  • 8
    7

    PART 1

    Justin Trudeau should first investigate and address the following:
    .
    1) What happened to all the hard-earned money extorted from Tamils in Canada under death threat saying “You’re here because of Prabhakaran.”? What happened to all the properties in which that money running into hundreds of millions dollars was invested? Where is the accountability?
    .
    2) What happened to the tens of thousands of Tamils who used to march for the LTTE in Canada until 18 May 2009. Now there are only about 20 people walking to Ottawa. Why have the Tamils ‘disappeared’ in Canada?
    .
    3) Will you risk losing Tamil votes and do the right thing by calling for justice for the thousands of innocent civilians including children – belonging to all communities: Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims – butchered by the LTTE with the money collected in the liberal-democratic Canada?
    .
    4) Will you explore why the Tamils in Jaffna have given the highest number of their preferential votes to the candidate of the war-winning, LTTE-liquidating, Prabhakaran-killing Rajapaksas?
    .
    [Contd]

  • 9
    6

    Part 2

    5) Why have you allowed the soil of Canada to be used for the travesty of democracy called the TGTE staged by hardcore leftover elements of the banned LTTE holding mock elections? Is it another illustration of the corruption that has been an integral part of Canadian politics – in the latest of which you are implicated: SNC-Lavalin Scandal and the WE-Charity.
    .
    6) Clean up your own house first, Justin. “Black Lives Matter” and “Indigenous Lives Matter” are on the rise in your cities and calling for justice against settler violence and systemic racism. White colonial rulers’ statues are being toppled. There’s much tension and potential for unrest in your own country because of continued systemic discrimination and police brutality against coloured people including the Tamils who are coming to see you.

  • 3
    8

    BS from Tamil Diaspora of Malabar Vellala Tamils.
    There was no civil war in Sri Lanka. Native Sinhalayo and ‘Para’ Demalu did not kill each other.
    There was a terrorist campaign launched by Malabar Vellala Demalu in Yapanaya using Dalits to do the don key work for them in order to create a separate State based on a bogus claim ‘Traditional Homeland’ for the descendants of Dravida slaves brought by Portuguese from Hindusthan by grabbing a piece of land from the Land of Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo.
    To wipe out this terrorist campaign by Tamils that slaughtered Native Sinhalayo for three decades, the Government of Sri Lanka launched a military operation. During this military operation Sri Lanka Armed Forces liberated about 300,000 Tamil civilians kept as a human shield to protect the sss of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. 14,000 LTTE cadres who surrendered to SL Army were rehabilitated and directed to self-employment.
    THERE WAS NO ‘GENOCIDE’.

    Author should check the meaning of ‘GENOCIDE’ in Cambridge English Dictionary.

    “The civil war in Sri Lanka, seeking the right to self-determination, was fought for nearly three decades ending in a massive genocide of the Tamil people on the 18th of May 2009.”

    • 12
      3

      Eagle Eye,

      If not GENOCIDE, than what happen in May 2009 Mullivaikkal war.

      Can you explain how and why more than 100 000 were killed, resulting in 89 000 widows, 60 000 orphans and disabled, 50 000 IDPs, 146 000 unaccounted for, either missing, death or in custody, in the No Fire Zone. War behind closed doors.

      Who owned and operated the white vans? What happened to those who were handed over to the army, who are they and where are they now, where is this list of names? Where is the peace keeping under military occupation?

      Please explain.

      Unless there is an independent international investigation for the war crimes, crimes against humanity and the genocide, Sri Lanka is doomed. The international community need to know the truth.

      Just imagine, if not for the misguided military support from the international community, the Sri Lankan army would have been wiped out completely.

      And if the LTTE had won the war, the Singalese, Tamils and Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam would have developed and prospered with respect and dignity together as an economic force in South Asia. We need each other.

      Where are you heading now after 11 years, to bankruptcy under a family autocratic dictorial administion under 20A, and waiting to be submerged in the Indian Ocean.

      • 1
        11

        Manicka Vasagar,
        In Mullivaikkal there was no war. Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated LTTE Tamil terrorists who were boasting that they cannot be defeated militarily. Your Sun God did not have the guts to swallow the cyanide capsule and commit suicide. So he was sent to hell to have a nice time with the step mother who did breast feeding and nurtured him and her son who gave his bullet proof vest. ‘Yama Rajjuruwo’ has passed the sentence for them to stay in hell for trillion years for the crimes committed against Native Sinhalayo.

        “…what happen in May 2009 Mullivaikkal war.”

        • 5
          1

          Mahindapala, definition of genocide as elimination of entire race is now not being adhered to. Massacre of one million Armenians by Turks and massacre of one million Tutsis by Hutus were classified as genocide though not their entire races were wiped out. But now it appears that figure is not important but the intention is. Killing of 3000 Muslims by Serbs which was called mass murder is now revised as genocide. Similarly killing of less than 1000 and driving out of less than one million Rohingyas by Burmese, instead of calling ethnic cleansing is designated genocide. Therefore driving out of one million Tamils of recent Indian origin and killing of 150,000 and driving out of 500,000 Indigenous Tamils by Sinhalese falls into the same category of genocide. Leaving that apart, now that it is archaeologically and genetically proved that Tamils are the original inhabitants of the island, attempt by Sinhalese to eliminate Tamils who are the first nation, is clearly an act of genocide. Sinhalization of names of Tamil villages and Buddhisization by planting of statues amount to cultural genocide.

    • 3
      0

      If no genocide why Sinhala leaders refuse to allow an International investigation?

      Do you know why Rajiv Gandhi has ordered Indian Air Force Jets to fly over Jaffna? Why JR has signed the 13th Amendment with India and India can invade Sri Lanka any time in the future accusing that Sri Lanka not implemented the agreement?

      No wonder Tamils demanded for separation as Sinhala will never understand pluralism, equality, democracy and fairness as their DNA is full of racism and hatred!

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