Brit, Canadian Tamils vow to sustain Ealam struggle

May 22nd, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by ANI  

London/Ottawa, May 22 (ANI): Large Tamil communities in Britain and Canada have vowed to continue the struggle for Tamil self-determination rights in Sri Lanka following the death of LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

Holding portraits of Prabhakaran, who was killed by Sri Lankan army soldiers earlier this week, the Tamil diaspora in these two countries are mobilizing to play a part in what leaders describe as a new phase in their struggle for an independent homeland.

According to The Telegraph, following the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers, the talk now is of employing democratic means to address Tamil concerns.

The paper says this goal could be tested, however, by a growing number of young expatriate Tamils who have become radicalized by the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Like others around the world, British Tamils say their priority is the welfare of tens of thousands of refugees.

British Tamils have always donated generously to Tamil charities, but not without controversy.

Suren Surendiran, a spokesman for the British Tamils Forum, an umbrella organization, says that in the longer term, the events of recent weeks have radicalized the younger generation of Tamils abroad.

“The first phase of the fight for freedom, from 1948 to 1983, was about political negotiations,” he said.

“Then, the armed struggle from 1983 until last week ensured that the oppression and discrimination of Tamil people was highlighted on an international stage, Surendiran said, adding that in the third phase, Tamil diaspora will pursue their goal through political and democratic channels, the ultimate goal being a Tamil homeland in some form.Young second-generation Tamils have been the driving force behind a largely peaceful occupation of Parliament Square, in front of the House of Commons, although protesters have clashed with police when hundreds of demonstrators attempted to block traffic during peaks in the recent fighting in Sri Lanka.

Across the Atlantic in Canada, home to the world’s largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, community leaders are holding up Quebec as a path for resolving Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem.

“This model of autonomy could work for us,” says Ramani Balendra, an ethnic Tamil from Sri Lanka who is a member of the Tamil Action Committee that has been organizing protests in recent weeks.

Sympathy for the Sri Lankan Tamil struggle has in fact been highest among Quebec’s nationalist intellectuals, according to Narendra Balasubramanian, an associate professor of political science at McGill University who has been studying the conflict.

“The Quebec nationalists feel an affinity with Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism,” he says.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon earlier this week said Canada was prepared to assist Sri Lankan efforts to “find political reconciliation and a lasting peace.”

Professor Balasubramanian, however, says Canada’s role will be limited to humanitarian assistance, and perhaps monitoring. (ANI)

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