Canadian academics come out in support of Tamils

May 6th, 2009 - 9:51 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, May 6 (IANS) Canadian academics have launched a campaign to seek their government’s intervention in Sri Lanka to end the conflict between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.
In a letter to Canadian prime minister, a group of academics - called Canadian Academics for Tamil Rights - has urged the government to put pressure on Colombo to end the bloody conflict.

Signed by 125 leading academics, former foreign minister Bill Graham and Opposition leaders Jack Layton and Elizabeth May, the letter said that more than 6,400 civilians have been killed in the conflict since January.

In a statement here Tuesday, the group said that”close to 50,000 Tamil civilians, many already displaced multiple times, are still under siege in a tiny coastal strip in the north of Sri Lanka.”

Calling upon the Canadian government to pressure both parties to implement an immediate ceasefire, the letter said Ottawa should ‘urge the international community and the UN to take responsibility for the protection of Tamil civilians.”

Since Canada is home to “the largest Tamil diaspora outside of Sri Lanka”, f Aiken of Queen’s University said Ottawa should play active role in ending the conflict.

“The fact that so many Canadian Tamils are continuing to lose family members and friends in the ongoing crisis is what prompted us as concerned Canadian academics to stand in solidarity with them,’’said Prof Aiken of Queen’s University.

Ryerson University (Toronto) Prof Alan Sears said Canada has a “responsibility to act in the face of the humanitarian and human rights catastrophe confronting the Tamil population of Sri Lanka.

“The level of mobilizations among Tamils in Toronto has been truly impressive, and they are asking for our solidarity so they do not feel they are facing this crisis alone.”

Canadian academics are the first group to come out openly in support of the protesting Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto.

No government leader has met the Tamils who have been protesting in Toronto and Ottawa for almost two months now.

Canada, which banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organisation in 2006, is home to more than 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils.

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