May 07, 2001
CANADA SHOULD REVIEW ITS FOREIGN POLICY PERSPECTIVES
We refer to the press release issued by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo in connection with the visit to Vanni by High Commissioner Ms. Ruth Archibald on Tuesday May 01. It is reported that the principal purpose of her visit was to see at first hand the programs funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) at Puthukudiruppu and Mallawi villages.
It is further reported that a 'chance' meeting took place between Ms. Archibald and Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, leader of
the Political department of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam( LTTE.)
Whatever might be the objective of Ms. Archibald's visit, we certainly welcome her bold initiative in undertaking the hazardous journey to Vanni, a feat not many diplomats based in Colombo have ventured to do. It is a first for any Canadian diplomat and to that extent we wish to convey our appreciation to her. Only last year Ms. Archibald herself was alleged to have advised the Canadian foreign ministry that Finance Minister Paul Martin and Ms Maria Minna participation in the FACT New Year dinner would be construed as supportive of the LTTE.
The press release also said that "Canada strongly believes that the North-East conflict can only be brought to an end through a political settlement and is fully supportive of the Norwegian bid to encourage this process. Unfortunately to our dismay, such hackneyed pronouncements have been repeated ad nauseam for years by the Canadian government which in practical terms remained nothing but stale rhetoric.
It is important that any government which genuinely wants to end the bloody war which has claimed more than 75000 lives (95% Tamils) should be perceived as treating both parties to the conflict as equals. As a corollary any government which has labelled the LTTE as a terrorist organization suffers serious credibility in addressing the Sri Lankan national conflict.
Long before USA 's designation of LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization and UK's proscription of LTTE, the Canadian government has labelled the LTTE as a "terrorist organization" or an organization engaged in "terrorist acts." Such labelling has not only
stigmatised the entire Tamil Canadian community as "terrorists" or "supporters of terrorists" , but has also denied them equality before law.
We presume Ms. Archibald would have herself witnessed the extensive humanitarian relief assistance provided by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) in Vanni and other areas. to people who due to the economic embargo live in squalor and poverty. In spite of this stark reality, TRO (Canada) has been denied tax exempt status on the alleged grounds that it is a front organization of the Tamil Eelam Society. Whether it is a front or back organization, the fact remains TRO is providing humanitarian relief assistance to more than half a million refugees and displaced people living in Vanni, a hundred-fold more than the Canadian government itself.
Recently TRO (Canada) sponsored over 1,500 Tamil children out of many thousands who have lost both or either parents due to the ongoing war. Very soon TRO will extend such sponsorship to cover more than 18,000 war widows living in the Northeast.
The denial by the Revenue Minister acting on the advice of unelected and heartless bureaucrats, living in a world of their
own oblivious to the human tragedy in Vanni, tantamounts
to treating Tamil Canadian taxpayers as second
Ms. Archibalds historic visit to Vanni and her talks with Thamilchelvan has given a ray of hope that Canadian government is willing to abandon its practice of observing internal as well as external Apartheid against Tamils.
In our opinion Canadian government has singularly failed to take into consideration the racist and undemocratic character of the Sri Lankan state, its sponsorship of state terrorism and denial of basic human rights and freedoms to the Tamil people.
If the Canadian government is genuinely interested in promoting peace efforts and see an end to fighting it should abandon the current policy of labelling the LTTE as a terrorist organization. Such blinkered policy is not only tragically counter-productive, but also ignores the state terrorism directed against the Tamil people. It has further emboldened the Sri Lankan government to build a sophisticated military machinery and to conduct high tech genocidal war against the Tamil people. Many cities and villages in the Northeast have been flattened, fauna and flora destroyed by indiscriminate aerial bombings and heavy artillery shelling.
We, therefore, appeal to the Canadian government to re-view its foreign policy perspectives visa-a-viz the Tamil national liberation struggle in the light of Ms. Archibald's visit to Vanni and her declaration of support to Norwegian peace efforts. LTTE is the authentic representative of the Tamil people and it is a political and military force to reckon with in finding a just and lasting solution to the ethnic conflict.
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