Highlights of the TGTE’s annual event in Toronto, Canada , by Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah
“Presently, the international powers view the Tamil national issue as having three vantage points involving Sino-Indian-Sri Lankan geo-strategic interests. We hope by mobilizing Tamils across the globe, we can add our fourth unified vantage point, moving from a triangular to a quadrangular framed issue, enabling us to influence the course of events in the Indian Ocean and in the South Asian geo-political stage in a meaningful manner,” said Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, stressing the importance of the enormous impact the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter will have, “serving as a catalyst,” towards unifying all Tamils beyond party and group affiliations,” as well as changing events in our favour in the region.
Rudrakumaran the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) was speaking at the annual TGTE event in Canada held at the Scarborough Convention Centeron Saturday 20th April 2013 where Human Rights, a UN monitored International Protection Mechanism for the people of the NorthEast and the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter took centre stage.
Addressing the guests via Skype, Rudrakumaran underscoring the need for a convergence of the interests of democratic powers and Tamil political interests said, such a move would be of mutual benefit to the parties concerned: “Asiahas become the most important political geography in the 21st century. President Obama’s policy of “Pivot toAsia” highlights this. As observed by diplomats and geo-political experts the island of Sri Lanka is strategically situated in the Indian Ocean. As we stated in our Advisory Committee Report published in 2010 March that the TGTE is conscious of the strategic location of the island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean and the geo-political situation inSouth Asia and elsewhere in formulating its political strategies. We believe that the Tamil political interest and the geo-political interests of the democratic powers can intersect and thrive,” Rudrakumaran said.
Rudrakumaran referring to Mark J. Gabrielson and Joan Johnson-Freese’s article entitled the ‘Tamil Nadu Factor in China’s Naval Basing Ambitions in Sri Lanka’, explained “when the Eelam struggle is undertaken by the Tamils across the globe, especially the Tamils in Tamil Nadu in conjunction with Eelam Tamils, the effect of it will multiply,” forcing India to review its foreign policy to strengthen its position in the region by placing less reliance on its relationship with Sri Lanka. In the light of China’s naval basing ambitions that include access to a new seaport which it funded and built in Hambantota, Southern Sri Lanka, a development, “…impacting the balance of naval forces in the Indian Ocean,” as analysed by Gabrielson and Johnson Freese, Rudrakumaran believed “India has to address the Tamil Nadu factor as an opportunity to actually strengthen its position formidably against China’s ambitions by aligning itself with Tamil Nadu towards finding a political solution for Eelam Tamils that’s in accordance with Tamil aspirations, thereby protecting her interests in the region.
With more than 700 guests in addition to a number of dignitaries gracing the occasion, the event was a significant occasion ahead of the promulgation of the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter.
Prof. Theodore Orlin, Professor of Public Law at Utica College delivered the keynote speech. Mrs. Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah, chair of the TGTE Senate welcomed the guests. Professor Joseph Chandrakanthan, Dr Zulfika Sithy, Ms Rathika Sitsabaiesan MP,Jim KarygiannisMP, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Councillor Logan Kanapathi, Councillor Raymond Cho and Amnesty International’s John Argue were guest speakers.
Prof. Orlin in his keynote speech spoke on the UN resolution against Sri Lanka at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council entitled The UN Resolution and the Condemnation of Sri Lanka: “The UN resolution was an important statement of global rejection of Sri Lanka’s policies with 25 states bringing to the world’s attention that violations of human rights have and are being perpetrated. The fact that 13 states voted ‘no’ also was a confirmation of the difficult situation since many of the states who opposed the resolution have reputations of a poor human rights record…. The resolution was not significantly strong especially since it did not call for a independent international investigation, nonetheless it did note that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for such an effort and noted that violations are going on inSri Lanka now. This puts Sri Lanka on notice that it must meet the expectations of the resolution. in carrying out investigations and restore civil society in the North/East regions – this is important – if there is ‘peace’ in Sri Lanka (as the government claims) there should be no need to deny the human rights and dignity of its people,” Orlin said.
Continuing, Prof. Orlin called on the Tamil Diaspora to remain united, stating the Channel 4 accounts showed there is a prima facie case for Genocide and that the Diaspora must continue to seek allies: “The Tamil Diaspora (with its numbers represented throughout the world) must remain united to let the world know that Sri Lanka is not just a island tourist paradise but a country who continues to violate human rights, whose record to meet is responsibilities to respect (R2P) all its people have been put in question by UN reports, TV documentaries – the CH. 4 accounts added credibility that there is a prima facie case of Genocide, etc. It must continue to bring this message to the world and must seek allies among those who are caring of human rights and dignity – the Diaspora cannot do it alone, but must be the central force to bring change. If the war was without witness, life after the war must be witnessed- Sri Lanka must respond to criticism and allow the media, human rights advocates, INGOs and NGOs to visit and work in the north and the east,” Prof. Orlin added. “We must continue, both Tamils and those who are committed to human rights, to have our voices heard at the the UN and other venues – not just the Human Rights Council, but the Human Rights Committee overseeing the CCPR, CAT (Convention against Torture), CEDAW (Convention against the discrimination of women) and others,” he said.
Both Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Councillor Logan Kanapathi were recognized, “for their outstanding leadership, service to the community and unstinting support for human rights,” in passing a resolution in the City of Markham on 14th April 2009 requesting, “the Federal government to undertake an investigation of possible human rights violations and genocide in Sri Lanka and to undertake any actions deemed appropriate relative to this matter and asking that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the then Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon and all Local Members of Parliament,” Markham Council being the first and only Council doing so at the height of government shelling against Tamil civilians in the Vanni.
A biography to mark the birth centenary celebrations of the late distinguished Tamil Scholar, “Cultural Ambassador” and Linguist, Rev. Father Xavier Thaninayagam, written by Mr. M K Eelaventhan, former TNA Member of Parliament (Sri Lanka) and TGTE Member of Parliament representing Canada Central, was launched at the event. Mr. Vin Mahalingam, TGTE Deputy Minister for Heritage, introducing the author, spoke of Mr. Eelaventhan’s close association with Father Thaninayagam that extended over 3 decades. Mr. Mahalingam also spoke of Father Thaninayagam’s unique contribution to celebrating and preserving the Tamil Language and Literature, “as a pioneer in founding the World Tamil Research Conference, by bringing together Tamil scholars from all over the world in one forum.” In addition to organising the inaugural conference in Malaysia in 1964 and then in Jaffna, France and twice in Tamil Nadu thereafter, Father, “established a permanent centre for Tamil research in India,” Mr. Mahalingam said. Mr. Eelaventhan remembered Father’s yearning for a land for the Tamils and how much he identified with the Tamil struggle, participating in the Tamil ‘Satyagraha’ campaign against the Sinhala Only Act at Galle Face Green. He also recalled the time when on June 5th 1956, Tamil politicians and activists who while peacefully protesting were brutally attacked outside parliament by a mob of hooligans unleashed by Sinhala Members of Parliament. Mr. Anton Philip, president of CWVHR (Centre for War Victims and Human Rights) highlighted the main features in his review of the book.
Mr. Shean Sinnarajah, deputy Minister for Information and coordinator for the TGTE Youth Caucus explained the activities of the Youth Caucus world wide.
A pictorial exhibition on Tamil History, the Tamil Kingdom, Tamil Self-Rule, The Tamil Freedom Struggle, the Right to self-determination under United Nations Treaties and Declarations, Tamil Genocide, Sri Lankan Military Occupation of Tamil Eelam, Nepotism inSri Lanka, Call for Intervention by UN and the International Community and the Student Protests etc., was a special feature of the event. The material for the exhibition was researched and compiled by Mr. Eliathamby Logeswaran.
A repertoire of dances was performed by Yalini Rajakulasingam, Prem Gopal and students of Mrs. Nirothini Pararajasingam.
The Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter it was announced will be promulgated on the 18th of May 2013 at an international conference under the auspices of the TGTE, titled: ‘Chartering Freedom through the Rough Seas of Geo-politics’, slated for the 15th – 18th of May at the historic Thaddeus Stevens Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.