Canadian Tamils warn of civil war in Sri Lanka (Lead)

April 28th, 2009 - 12:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, April 28 (IANS) Sri Lankan Tamils have warned of a civil war on the island nation if Colombo does not reciprocate to the Tigers’ call for a ceasefire and called for strong action by the Canadian government.

Sri Lankan Tamil here staged night-long protests in the heart of the city Monday and wrote a strongly worded letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“Tamil Canadians are fearful that in the next 24 to 48 hours a civilian bloodbath will ensue if the government of Sri Lanka does not reciprocate the LTTE’s offer to a ceasefire,” the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) said in the letter.

Calling for immediate and strong action by the Canadian government, CTC president Sri Ranjan said: “Canada must force the government of Sri Lanka to reciprocate the immediate ceasefire by cutting all diplomatic and economic relations with Sri Lanka.”

The Tamil organisation also urged Canadian parliamentarians to put pressure on the government to intervene in the conflict immediately.

Colombo must be economically and politically isolated to compel it to negotiate a political resolution to the conflict so that “the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people” are fulfilled, it said.

Referring to the UN estimates of over 6,500 civilian deaths in the conflict zone, CTC spokesperson David Poopalapillai said: “So far there have been only statements issued by the most powerful bodies in the world, the UN, the EU, G8, and western governments, but there has been no follow through in terms of action.”

“The international community has failed the Tamils in Sri Lanka by not fulfilling its obligation to protect civilians caught in this armed conflict.”

Though the LTTE, he said, had heeded “the calls by Canada, the UN, G8, the European Union, the US, India, and other western governments to unilaterally announce a ceasefire, Sri Lanka is determined to pursue its military assault to kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians under the pretext of ‘wiping out the Tigers’.”

Led by the Canadian Tamil Congress and other organisations, thousands of protesters marched in downtown Toronto Monday to seek international intervention to stop the “genocide” by Sri Lanka.

Waving LTTE and Canadian flags, they urged Canada, the US and the UN to intervene to force Colombo to respond to the LTTE’s unilateral ceasefire.

More than 300,000 of the about one million Sri Lankan Tamils displaced by the conflict are settled in Canada.

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