23 October, 2017

Genocide, Refugees And An Inconvenient Truth About Harper’s Boycott

By Krisna Saravanamuttu

Krisna Saravanamuttu

Krisna Saravanamuttu

Canada will not tolerate the abuse of the Immigration system by terrorist elements escaping Sri Lanka.” — former Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney

In 2009, I was amongst thousands of Toronto’s Tamil community that protested against the war in Sri Lanka. We braved the bitter cold and formed human chains across downtown to desperately turn people’s attention to the carnage of chemical weapons unleashed on our families and communities.

While most Torontonians celebrated mother’s day, we occupied the Gardiner Expressway when over a thousand civilians were killed in 24 hours.

Despite months of protest and direct lobbying, the Harper government refused to condemn the Sri Lankan atrocities. In the Conservative Caucus it was business as usual in the midst of genocide.

Two years later a UN report vindicated our protests and accused the Sri Lankan Armed Forces of killing 45,000-75,000 civilians from January to May 2009. The report shed light on the Sri Lankan Armed Forces indiscriminate shelling of hospitals, churches, temples, food distribution lines and even government declared “No Fire Zones.” Fast forward to the fall of 2013. The Prime Minister announces that he will boycott this weekend’s Commonwealth meeting to be hosted by Sri Lanka in light of the country’s human rights abuses.

Analysts suggest that Harper’s boycott is really about courting the concentrated votes of Toronto’s 300,000 strong Tamil community in the next federal election.

Of course, Sri Lanka’s treatment of the Tamil people — characterized by occupation, dispossession and continued violence — warrants international isolation. However, by contrast, the Harper government’s treatment of 492 Tamil refugees onboard the MV Sun Sea raises a troubling inconsistency in the Prime Minister’s commitment to human rights.

Harper’s past treatment of Tamil refugees reveals inconsistencies with present speak

In 2006 the Conservative government outlawed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an organization that fought for Tamil self-determination, and put the group on its terrorist list.

With the imminent arrival of the MV Sun Sea in the summer of 2010, the Conservatives effectively used anti-terrorism legislation to attach the “Tamil Tiger terrorist” label to the refugees onboard by virtue of their ethnicity alone.

Former Minister of Public Safety Vic Towes held a bizarre dockside press conference to tell Canadians that the refugees, including the elderly and children, were LTTE members involved in a human smuggling conspiracy. Over 100 refugees from the MV Sun Sea have since been deported back to Sri Lanka where they risk torture, rape and death.

These refugees onboard fled genocide only to be welcomed with detainment and deportation.

The Human Rights Watch report We Will Teach You a Lesson affirms that Tamils suspected of LTTE membership are systematically tortured and raped in Sri Lankan prisons. The Harper government has legal obligations under international treaties like the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture, which protect refugees from deportation to countries where they will be tortured.

Talk is cheap when we’re dealing with human rights issues

A real commitment to human rights protection in Sri Lanka requires recognition of the nature of Tamil oppression. After all, why would 492 people pack onto a relatively small cargo ship to risk dehydration and hypothermia?

Decades of land seizures, unequal access to resources, embargoes on food and medical supplies, and recent revelations of forced birth control all amount to a slow genocide of the Tamil people.

Today, while Tamils are still denied the right to return to their homes under military occupation, the Sri Lankan government claims that reconciliation is its primary focus.

In fact, Jason Kenney visited Sri Lanka earlier this year and declared that Canada had “boosted its international efforts to prevent human smuggling” and “no planned smuggling voyages have succeeded in getting to Canada.”

If the Prime Minister’s boycott is to amount to something more than an election strategy, the government must match its rhetoric with real protections for refugees fleeing genocide.

*Krisna Saravanamuttu is an activist based in Toronto and is a member of the steering committee of the Canadian Peace Alliance. Krisna is completing a three-year term on the board of the National Council of Canadian Tamils. He is involved with the Coalition for Tamil Rights. Follow him on Twitter: @KrisnaS85. Version of this article appeared in rabble.ca 

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    The UN report did not state 45,000 to 75,000 people were killed by Sri Lankan forces. As to how many or who did the killing is not certain and the report categorically stated killing was also done by Tamils, the terrorist LTTE.
    Why do Tamils have to go to Canada when their ancestral homeland is only 20 miles away from Sri Lanka? TN is a squalid hell hole , I presume.
    This fellow is no different other whiners. Start a war and, lose it and blame everybody else. Canada owes you nothing. Get a life, loser!

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      The Tamils never started the war. When, since the early fifties, the politically inspired thugs went around beating innocent Tamil people up, the respective governments of SL looked askance (SWRD’s famous words at the Orient club ‘a little local difficulty’…).In time, having sown the seeds of injustice, heaping indignity on indignity on our Tamil brethren we finally reaped a whirlwind. Alas, the show ain’t over yet!

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        A Tamil did start the war, and with the explicit support of India they were trained and armed. When India was repayed with the killing of their Prime Minister they turned around and pursued the LTTE, arming Sri Lanka and helping in everyway possible. The war continued to be explicitly supported by a few in the Tamil Nadu government and to this day support separation of the north from Sri Lanka, as a start to create Tamil Eelam, their true goal. The author is too young to know anything but activism for a cause feed to him from the time he was a baby. A puppet, brainwashed at that. Ignorance is a disase.

    • 0
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      LAL:

      Great Logics man,

      against this stupid Tamils.

    • 0
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      Lal You Sinhalese Racist Moron,

      Why thousands of you lot are claiming Asylum in the west either pretending to be Tamils or claim to have helped the Tamils and are being wanted for helping the LTTE. Disgusting and we know that some you lot claiming Asylum in the West are guilty of War Crimes.

      You can BARK but you cant BITE anymore because your Teeth has been removed.

  • 0
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    ” Courting the Votes of 300,000 Tamils in Toronto”..

    Mr Sara is re stating the obvious.

    But he got a valid point there. Harper should put his money where the mouth is.

    Activist Sara should make a manifesto , and distribute among the whole Diaspora in Toronto, with a list of demands and arrange a one block of votes.

    First item must be his pleas

    .Grant immediate citizenship to all refugees.and allow them to sponsor all relatives in Srilanka to come over without asking for any qualifications.

    It is about time these Politicians are held accountable for their promises.

    • 0
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      Harper is the CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER.

      HE needs to have a JOB (Money does not matter……..If he does not have anything else to do, then it causes DEPRESSION……. AM I WRONG ?… I know..).

      So, HE sacrificed Tamils to have his way.

      IS that WRONG ?

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    Krisna Saravanamuttu:

    In 2009, I was amongst thousands of Toronto’s Tamil community that protested against the war in Sri Lanka. We braved the bitter cold and formed human chains across downtown to desperately turn people’s attention to the carnage of chemical weapons unleashed on our families and communities.

    Tell me, what did you do if any when LTTE was blasting people in buses and trains in Colombo before May 2009 — they were humans too you know?

    In May 2009 did you ever ask LTTE to release the civilians? We never heard anyone in Canada do that so I guess you didn’t. Why?

    FYI: Please don’t make an utter fool of yourself by claiming Sri Lanka has chemical weapons. You are insulting the super powers in this world and other powers that aspire to be super powers just off the coast of this pint size country.

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      Navin, never mind the LTTE blasting people in buses; where were you on the 31st May 1958 when a shitty mob of Sinhala thugs massacred, with iron bars, an unarmed Tamil man outside the Old Air Ceylon building in the Fort. That poor man’s only mistake was being unable to say ‘ammata hokana demalu’ when asked to by a reeking thug. I was there and helplessly witnessed that odious act but I don’t remember seeing you. We reap what we sow. The rest as they say is history….

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        Spring Koha

        Never mind 1958 where were you when police and armed forces started killing innocent Sinhala youth on 5th April 1971?

        Where were you when Sinhala/Buddhist armed forces and Marxist Sinhala/Buddhist JVP fought each other for more than three years?

        In that war more than 130,000 innocent Sinhalese died.

    • 0
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      If nothing happened in Srilanka, why not let the internationals to investigate.

    • 0
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      Navin you Idiot,

      Sri Lanka used Chemical weapons and the proof is the picture of the LTTE Combatants who resembled the Picture from Halabja when Sadam used Chemical Weapons.
      As for your other Garbage your GOSL asked Civilians to move to safe areas and deliberately Shelled killing 140,000. LTTE never did that so get your facts right.

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    Isn’t it funny when he says that he was one of the protesters protesting against th war in SL. I am curious what part was he against “When Ltte was winning ” or was it when LTTE was cornered and about to be finished. Obviously he was against LTTE getting wiped out, because it was going to make him jobless ( LTTE mouth piece). If he was genuinely concerned about his innocent Tamils who were being used by LTTE as human shields he should have being protesting against the LTTE to release the civilians!

    Please forget about this peellam business in SL and get a real job and be a productive citizen to your adopted country without being a burden to it.

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    navin what did you do when thesinhala mob under the direction of the then government of SWRD bandaranayake, who was sybsequently murdered by a BUDDHIST MONK, looted,raped and killed tamils in colombo in 1958

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      There is a saying you reap what you sow. If you, like this fellow Krishna who I believe supports LTTE terrorism thinks ok to kill innocent Sinhala civilians, then, events of May 2009 were more than justifiable. There is enough reason to celebrate, and Krishna, I will raise a glass of champagne on 18 May, each year to come. Cheers!

      • 0
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        lal

        “There is a saying you reap what you sow.”

        At least got that part right.

        “I will raise a glass of champagne on 18 May, each year to come. Cheers!”

        Good JVP remembers its maweerer (heros) in November each year to coincide with VP’s birth day. How about that? Will you raise another glass of champagne for Rohana and his Sinhala/Buddhist terrorists?

        I won’t, because I believe in living not in killing. That is the difference between one who learns Buddha’s teaching and a Sinhala/Buddhist.

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          You must be a very strange sort of Vedda if you do not believe in killing. What do you do with your bow and arrow?
          I don ‘t believe in killing humans either. Try to get across your peaceful message to Tami politicians and activists. They know how to provoke their fellow Tamils to kill and provoke Sinhalese to respond in kind. Then they cry for dead Tamils. This is. What they have done in 1958 to 2009, kill innocent Sinhalese and sacrifice Tamil lives and cry foul. This activist as you can read and see for yourself has made stupid accusations of war crimes, chemical weapons and clearly a gutter born scumbag.
          Tamils chose to go to war, they did a lot of barbaric acts and got what they deserved in May 2009. If any civilians got killed then Tamils who chose war must take the blame. Now, Mr. Vedda, do you understand or do you have learning difficulties?

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        Lal You Stupid Sinhalese Racist Moron,

        You are a monkey hanging up side down on a Tree and that is why you are seeing things the other way round.
        Man we have a lot to Celebrate. Even your friend China the Greatest Power on Earth has told MR to improve his Human Recors. Just think if a Country like China responsible for the Tiananmen Square Masscre says improve your Human Rights Record how bad you lot must be.
        The question is who is going to use the VETO on your behalf.

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    Tell me, what did you do if any when Sri Lankan soldiers were blasting Tamils in prawn farms / Tamil conferences / schools / churches etc – they were humans too you know?

    FYI: Please don’t make an utter fool of yourself by defending Sri Lanka’s treatment of its minorities.

  • 0
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    quote:”However, by contrast, the Harper government’s treatment of 492 Tamil refugees onboard the MV Sun Sea raises a troubling inconsistency in the Prime Minister’s commitment to human rights.”

    Stephen with all the rhetorics of HR, alarm bells are ringing. get ready, select your seat in the opposition from now on.
    Coming to power is a hard task as you will have to vomit…vomit…vomit and vomit according to the whims and fancies of such tamil activists untill you blow your guts out.
    yet, you will not be assured the Prime Minister seat after next GE.

    Nobody is defending Sri Lanka actions BUT it was a conventional waged against the GOSL. In a war demarcations get blurred.

    EELAM is possible once they establish Mini Eelams in Toronto, London, Paris, Sydney or Melbourne and in Tamil Nadu or buy up those politicians to the eelam side.
    Effort at CHOGM looks medicore effort.

  • 0
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    Yes but now Canada should be ashamed of itself for giving terrorist refuje….that means we can point fingers at Canada and say they are not straight in their system…..why are you so called democratic countries supporting terrorism and cant stand the fact that that we in srilanka are having a conference…?you can kill innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq…you killed sadaam and telecasted it..shamelessly and you kill innocent children in pakistan with your drone attacks…you allowed the libyan president to be killed and slaughtered…where was the human rights….why dont you all claim eelam in Toronto or london…..I am sure you all will be welcome….!!!!!

  • 0
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    Unfortunately there was NO genocide of Tamils in 2009.

    If there was a genocide of Tamils we won’t be talking about the TNA, ethnic problem, anymore!

    • 0
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      Fat ” Mama ” Fuk U Shima,

      Did you hear the following.

      China asks Lanka to protect and promote human rights
      Nov 18 (PTI) In a surprise move, China today asked Sri Lanka to “make efforts to protect and promote human rights”, backing calls by India, Britain and other countries at the CHOGM summit in Colombo to address allegations of rights abuses against the country’s minority Tamils. “Due to the differences in the economic and social development of different countries, there could be differences on human rights protection,” more.

      Who is going to VETO a UN resolution for an Internation Inquiry.

      Did you see British PM on Balcony with Eelam CM

  • 0
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    Perhaps naively I continue to hope that our arguments will not be met with out of scope, ad-hominem attacks. Am I wrong to expect a logical, reasonable conversation or or is it impossible for some of us to disagree without being disagreeable?

  • 0
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    “Am I wrong to expect a logical, reasonable conversation” are you logical and reasonable when you justify all the LTTE crimes.

  • 0
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    Another member of the Tamil Diaspora Inc.” established by Late Prabhakaran has bombarded us with lot of innuendos and garbage information collected from here and there ;All baseless arguments. The reality is this member of Tamil Diaspora Inc. established by LTTE to fund genocide of Sinhalese and Muslims in Sri Lanka must realize He is a Canadian Passport Holder now, and He does not have any right to speak about Sri Lanka or interfere with the affairs of another country. Sri Lanka belongs to the people who have willingly chosen to live there. So best thing is to shut-up and mind your own business in Canada. Do not try to stir troubles in Sri Lanka with your lies. Just enjoy the ill gotten wealth obtain through “Bogus Refugee” status.

  • 0
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    Chemical weapons? I WOULD HAVE USED ATOMIC BOMB TO KILL THAT RUTHLESS KILLER WHO KILLED MY NEPHEWS(CIVILIANS) AND FOUR NEIGHBOURS IN DEHIWALA TRAIN BOMB KILLING! MAY HE ROT IN HELL FOREVER!

  • 0
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    Mr. Saravanamuttu,

    If you want logic and reasonable conversation please answer my following questions in relation to your assertion:
    “Of course, Sri Lanka’s treatment of the Tamil people — characterized by occupation, dispossession and continued violence — warrants international isolation”.

    1). Are you aware that 52 % of the Sri Lankan Tamils (not including the Indian Tamils who are in the plantation region) are living outside of so called Tamil Home Land (North and East). If “occupation, dispossession and continued violence” is the order of the day, why this 52% continue to live in the Southern part of the country where they are “sitting ducks”.

    2). Are you aware that Sri Lankan Tamil population growth rate between 1911 to 1981 (where systematic population statistics are available) is MUCH higher in every other provinces than in the Northern and Eastern Provinces? (if you have any doubt get the Official statistics for 1911 and 1981 Census and do the calculation)

    3). Are you aware that Sri Lankan Tamil Population growth rates in every province EXCEED the growth rate of Sinhalease population in these provinces?

    4). Are you aware that in the Colombo Municipal Area Tamils are the MAJORITY ethnic group?

    •During the past century or so the Sri Lankan Tamils flourish throughout Sri Lanka. In all likelihood, Sri Lankan Tamils who are living among Sinhalese majority must have fulfill their aspirations at least as well or perhaps better than their counterparts in the Northern and Eastern part of the country.

    •These incendiary remarks that set fire to ugly communal hatred is the staple of the Tamil politicians who have failed to do anything else to their constituencies.

    •It is much cheaper and petty strategy than working tirelessly to solve problems faced by all the communities in the country.

    •The way forward is not squabbling about the “geography based” enclave where Sri Lankan Tamils might be deprived of many opportunities but strengthening the ties among all communities and accommodating all communities to work together.

  • 0
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    I am shame of you Mr Harper, please stand for truth and rights and not for yet alive LTTE proparganda machine and its votes for conservatives.

    99% Tamils came to Canada and eleswhere world by misusing refugee law, and no truth at all that tamils are not safe in Sri Lanka. If so any little brain person can think, howcome millions tamils live in Sri Lanka to this date?

    Specially Jaffna tamils they are trying to make their life better through proparganda, lies and cheating specially white politicians Canada and around the world.

    Harper, also NDP and Jaffna tamils should thank present SL Govt by making their birth place peaceful today and its development after crushing cruel LTTE ethenic extremism by Sri Lanka brave forces sacrifying their lives for country.

  • 0
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    What a childish report. This guy seems to be eyeing for a political membership in Canada as he knows well the number of Tamils in Canada though he made a blunder in the UN estimate of the number killed.
    These Tamils like in England are utter destitutes gone for money. If they really want to protect their culture, language and their traditions, why they did not go to Tamil Nadu which is just 20Km away from Sri Lanka which has the same climate as well to add a few. Instead they seem to have travelled to Canada, England and other developed countries,seeking asylum charging Sri Lankan mistreatment to them.
    I wander this write has ever visited Sri Lanka after 2013 where Sri Lanka has gained a much progress. Please if you got little bit of logic, visit here and go to Jaffna. You will see not only by your eyes but also by your heart where irrespective of nationality every Sri Lanka is trying to achieve a better life.
    Did you read the global press reports recently,according to many political analysts England, India and Canada made a big blunder in trying to put Sri Lanka in trouble. Soon they will realise, it is not easy to make the Tamils happy in their own countries, like happening now in India.
    Please open your eyes, it is not easy to forget and forgive, but every Sri Lankan trying to do that. God Bless Sri Lanka.

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    Most of the so-called refugees are economic migrants. If anyone belives otherwise they are ignorant and misguided or they are opportunists.As for Harper, he is also an political opportunist and a hypocrite. Very few tamils in Canada know or care about the indigenous Canadians. Neither do they care about the Country and even less appreciate the Country. Supporting the politicos in Canada does not make them loyal Canadians. I don’t live in Canada and never been there, but I do love beauty and the geology of the Country that is Canada.I can safely say that I know more about Canada than any of the tamil newcomers.

  • 0
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    Harper and Cameron both are cheap politicians. Do not know any otherway of serving people and increase popularity rather than the cost of someone else.

    • 0
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      Roi You Moron,

      Cameron is realated to the Queen and comes from a Priviledged Aristocratic Family and a Millionare. This tells you that financially he is not poor.

      Morally he is of the Highest Order unlike your master MR who is a CRIMINAL, THUG, LOOTER, BRIBER and a BEGGAR

  • 0
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    Mr. Harper,
    Never seen a moron like you. These Tamils messed up Sri Lanka. They are messing up Canada too. Were you there when they turned Ottawa in to the worst hellhole of a City within two days in April 2009? That is their speciality and the only thing that they are capable of. They misuse refugee laws, launder money, run extortion rackets within their own community, bombed and murdered innocent civilians by the thousands. We thought NDP and Liberals are the Morons. You put them into shade. Don’t you remember them blocking the QEW with prams with babies on them. That is exactly what they did in Sri Lanka, they put their own people in front of them and engaged the Sri Lanka Army; lucky if only 40,000 died. The day they claim that they are the first nations in Canada is not very far away. I wish that you will live to see that day – Are you Canadian by any chance Mr. Harper? Or, do you have a grudge with Sri Lanka for defeating that Terrorist outfit, which is a feat you could never achieve along with your southern brethren and your Queen’s army put together? You are a shame upon us the Northerners.

  • 0
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    Unfortunately Tamils were subjected to genocide in SL.

    If Tamils were genocided we won’t be wasting our time on them today! :(

    Sigh!

    • 0
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      he he he
      calm yourself Lorenzo!
      take a chill pill, relax…..
      you don’t know what you write yourself, how on earth are people going to understand what you say.
      Go hug Fran, Ananda and Nanda – they love you heaps and heaps

  • 0
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    Unfortunately Tamils were not subjected to genocide in SL.

    If Tamils were genocided we won’t be wasting our time on them today! :(

    Sigh!

    But there is always a next time. Do it right the next time.

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    all the western politicians are opportunists

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    It is beyond me how all you people can function within such limiting parameters. Race, cast, language, religion are all conditioning factors – meaning that it contracts intellectual capacities. Is this the meaning of life for all you people, be you Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim.

    Break out of the dark cloaks of bias you have enveloped yourselves with and you will see there is a whole universe out there that does not discriminate using any yardstick that you place so much emphasis on. The same sun shines on each of you and it is the same moon that brightens the sky at night. You all need to eat food to sustain yourselves and you procreate by union with the opposite sex. Same, same same.

    Yet you choose to go mad with hatred and render each other apart not resting till you have drawn blood.

    What a short sighted beastly race you humans are.

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