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May 07, 2001

 

Press Release

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 class citizens.

Ms. Archibald’s  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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