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Urgent Request to Canada to course-correct UK-led approach which fails to demand international justice for Tamil genocide.

As Canadian Citizens of Eelam Tamil origins as well as the fellow citizens have created this signature campaign to urge the Government of Canada to be mindful of the injustices committed by colonial and post-colonial powers and note that Canadian Tamils of Eelam Tamil origin perceive their government’s role in voicing international investigations on Tamil genocide as a mutual and duty-bound obligation symbolising their integration in Canda. Please sign this petition.

FAO: 
The Honourable Marc Garneau   
Minister for Foreign Affairs 
House of Commons 
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

CC: 
The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau 
Prime Minister of Canada,  
Office of the Prime Minister 
80 Wellington St, 
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2 

27 February 2021

Urgent Request to Canada to course-correct UK-led approach that fails to demand international justice on Tamil genocide.

Canada, along with the UK, Germany and three other countries from the Balkans and East Africa, is involved in drafting a Resolution on Sri Lanka, which is to be tabled at the forthcoming 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by the Core Group on Sri Lanka in the UNHRC in March 2021. We learn that the deadline for finalising the draft has been set to Thursday, 11 March 2021 with the possibility of final written revisions on Tuesday, 16 March 2021.

Canadian citizens of Eelam Tamil origin, as well as the fellow citizens and their representatives who stand in solidarity with the Tamils, wish to bring the following demands to the Canadian government as a matter of top priority as there is an urgent need to course-correct the approach being charted by the UK in the Core Group. We place the following demands to the immediate attention of the Government of Canada, particularly the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Marc Garneau, after sighting the document by the UK government called the Zero Draft dated February 19, 2021:

  1. Add necessary Operative Paragraphs urging the UN General Assembly and the Security Council to constitute an International Criminal Tribunal on Sri Lanka (ICT-SL) along the model used in the case for Rwanda under UN Charter Article 22 with particular reference to Genocide Convention that entered into force in 1951 and to establish an evidence-gathering mechanism similar to the International Independent Investigatory Mechanism (IIIM) in relation to Syria established as a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. Alternatively, the Security Council could also refer the situation to International Criminal Court (ICC) with specific reference to inquire into the crime of genocide as well as the already established UN Panel of Experts findings that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed. ICT-SL is the most appropriate option as the ICC only has jurisdiction to investigate the crimes committed after July 2002.
  2. Add an Operative Paragraph urging the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect to assess the status of Eelam Tamils as a protected national group in accordance with the Genocide Convention and to establish early warning and response capacity in the island. This is to report on the cultural, heritage, demographic and structural genocide including destruction of ancient Hindu temple sites as well as to report on hate speech uttered by the main community leaders towards other communities.
  1. Add necessary Preamble Paragraphs and Operative Paragraphs to the Resolution calling the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to assess and report on the crime of protracted genocide, which Tamils have alleged as being perpetrated against them since 1956. It culminated into the peak of physical genocide in 2009 as witnessed by the entire world amidst the intense protests waged by the Tamil diaspora across the world’s capitals including in Canada.
  1. Recognise Tamils’ Right of Self-Determination, demand the UN to investigate and report on the systematic violation of Sri Lankan State’s denial of this right and call for a UN-monitored referendum to determine the right as claimed by the Tamils, both as a primary right of reversion to pre-colonial sovereignty and as a remedial right due to the protracted genocide and State failure to resolve the underlying national question.
  2. Initiate a case against Sri Lanka to determine that state’s responsibility for Tamil genocide at the International Court of Justice based on erga omnes character of Canada’s obligations as enshrined in the Genocide Convention.

We wish to remind the Honourable Minister to take note of the unanimously passed motion at the Canadian Parliament on June 19, 2019, in which the House called upon the UN “to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka, including during the last phase of the armed conflict in 2009.”  Sri Lanka has been committing and continues to commit genocide against the Eelam Tamils for more than six decades — before, during and after the end of the war in 2009.

The new resolution should be passed under Agenda Item 4, which is reserved for specific countries with more severe human rights issues than the Agenda Item 2 under which the situation in Sri Lanka has been addressed so far.

We urge the Government of Canada to be mindful of the injustices committed by colonial and post-colonial powers and note that Canadian Tamils of Eelam Tamil origin perceive their government’s role in voicing international investigations on Tamil genocide as a mutual and duty-bound obligation symbolising their integration in Canda.

Please see the attached document detailing the necessary background information justifying the above articulated demands.

Thank You

Background:

Canada is a diasporic home to the largest number of exiled Eelam Tamils, who fled genocidal onslaught in their traditional homeland, which is the northern and eastern parts of the island of Sri Lanka. The Tamil people in Canada look up to the host country as their second homeland, where they have integrated with dignity and equality, an opportunity rejected to them for decades by the predominant ethnonational group in their original land, where the main group, Sinhala Theravada Buddhists, falsely claim the island as their ‘chosen island’ according to the-religious Mahawamsa doctrine chronicled in 5th century CE with biased myths.

One of the root causes of the decades-old ethnic conflict and the genocide against Eelam Tamils during contemporary times is the historical and colonial injustice committed by the colonial British. The colonial British disrupted the distinct Tamil administration of North-East that had remained unaltered during the times of the predecessor colonial rulers, the Portuguese and Dutch. The British politically ‘unified’ the island-colony as a single unitary administrative territory in 1833 for their administrative convenience and economic exploitation. In 1947 the British introduced the Soulbury Constitution, granting so-called independence. But the exercise ended up transferring the political power at the hands of the Sinhala rulers. The transition was done amidst opposition from Ceylon Tamils (Eelam Tamils were known as Ceylon Tamils during the European colonial rule). Tamils were seeking balanced representation and parity of status to avoid future discrimination.

The British half-heartedly introduced certain safeguards, which they upheld as unalterable with legal recourse to the Privy Council of the UK if the protections afforded by their Constitution were violated. Ceylon Tamils trusted and accepted the assurances given by the British. But, when Tamils secured Privy Council rulings to their favour, the Sinhala rulers illegitimately and unilaterally repealed the Privy Council safeguards. They declared a new Republic Constitution without the democratic mandate of Ceylon/Eelam Tamils. The Sinhala rulers proceeded with according foremost status to a particular religion in the new Constitution and changed the official name of the island from Ceylon to Sri Lanka, which literally means the auspicious island – but according to the Mahawansa doctrine, it implies that the island was a chosen one for a particular ethnicity and its religion. The United Kingdom failed to intervene to protect the rule of law when these events occurred.

Eelam Tamils, who waged a non-violent struggle, were subjected to a series of state-sponsored genocidal pogroms that triggered them to seek last-resort defensive warfare as thousands fled seeking security within and outside the island.

The Sri Lankan State has systematically violated the Right of Self-Determination of the Tamil people. In all three conjectures of state formation in the island, the Tamils of the northeast refused to accede their sovereignty on the grounds that the Sinhalese were only intent on establishing a unitary system of government that would concentrate power over the affairs and wealth of the island solely in their hands. In 1977, the Tamil people gave their democratic mandate for an independent and sovereign state, which is their political aspiration based on their inalienable Right of Self-Determination. However, the Sri Lankan State violated this fundamental human right through a constitutional amendment in 1983 called the Sixth Amendment.

The armed struggle waged by Eelam Tamils resulted in Norway-brokered Ceasefire and Peace Talks in 2002. However, due to world and regional powers with strategic interests to the geopolitically significant island in the Indian Ocean, the hard earned power balance achieved by Tamils for negotiations with Sinhala rulers was destroyed, resulting in a genocidal war annihilating the entire de-facto administration, the Tamil fighters and the people. Tamil people, including children and women, were subjected to mass slaughter through aerial and artillery bombardments that targeted designated safe zones declared by Sri Lanka state. The key political, administrative leaders, and the leading fighters of the armed resistance were annihilated in the genocidal war and after the war while under captivity, they were systematically massacred by the ethnic Sinhala military.

At the height of the genocidal war in 2009 and in its immediate aftermath, the Tamil diaspora re-mandated the Tamil aspiration in a series of self-mobilised referendums in ten host countries.

The UN has admitted its systemic failure to evoke the Right to Protect doctrine but subsequently keeps failing to deliver international justice to the protracted genocide of Tamils. The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) on Sri Lanka, an international opinion tribunal independent from any State or UN authority, found Sri Lanka guilty of genocide in January 2014 at its Bremen Session. The PPT also found military and non-military aid or assistance by the UK and USA to the extent of being complicit in the Sri Lankan State’s crime of genocide. It also resolved to consider the Indian state’s guilt of being complicit in genocide against the Tamil people.

A series of US-initiated UNHRC resolutions, most of them in consensus with the Sri Lankan State, have failed to deliver accountability. The US-initiated resolutions have avoided accountability for genocide and focused only on war crimes and crimes against humanity of both sides to the war. The UNHRC discourse needs to be course-corrected by the other UN Member States to deliver international justice and ensure non-recurrence of genocidal acts in the island of Sri Lanka.

In her report submitted to the ongoing forty-sixth session of the UNHRC in Geneva in February 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called UN Member States to take steps towards the referral of the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a measure amongst the options in advancing criminal accountability and providing redress for victims.

All Tamil national parties with parliamentary representation in the island have called on the UN Member States to pursue the ICC option in a joint request made on 15 January 2021.

However, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK has stated to Tamil organisations in the UK that the ICC step would not have the support of the required Security Council Member States and that it would not advance the cause of accountability for an ICC referral to fail to win Security Council support or to be vetoed. The ICC has jurisdiction to investigate the crimes that occurred after 01 July 2002 and ICC investigations on Sri Lanka could only be advanced through a referral made by a Security Council Resolution since Sri Lanka is not party to the Rome Statute.

Canada should consider all options available for independent international investigation on the crime of genocide and war crimes committed by the state via International Court of Justice and individual high command responsibilities via ICT, ICC and national courts.

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