Tamil diaspora seeks war crimes trial against Sri Lanka leaders

May 20th, 2009 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, May 20 (IANS) The Tamil diaspora in Canada has demanded the setting up of an international tribunal to try Sri Lankan leaders for “war crimes against innocent civilians”.
Addressing a press conference here Tuesday, Tamil leaders said Canada should back the demand by the European Union and the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) for an international panel to investigate war crimes in the conflict.

“We know there is enough evidence to try Sri Lankan leaders for their war crimes against innocent civilians. Isn’t the bombing of hospitals a war crime? The Tamil diaspora will work with the international community to bring Sri Lankan leaders to justice,” said Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) leader and spokesman David Poopalapillai.

Despite Sri Lanka’s declaration that the war is over, atrocities on Tamil civilians continue, said Canadian Tamil Congress president Sri Ranjan.

“As the country with the largest Tamil diaspora outside South Asia, it is imperative that Canada take a leadership role by denouncing the government of Sri Lanka’s ongoing genocide against the Tamil people and adopt a concrete humanitarian strategy for Sri Lanka,” he said.

The Tamil leaders said all international aid to the victims should be routed through NGOs, not the Sri Lankan government.

They pleaded with the international community to force Sri Lanka to “disband internment camps and allow in aid groups, media and international human rights monitoring teams to report on the human rights situation”.

Asked about the call by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Tamil diaspora to return, Poopalapillai said: “How can Tamils trust the Sri Lankan killing machine? Are we crazy to even pay attention to what he says? They are broke, they want money.”

Later, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon Affairs urged Sri Lanka “to begin to find a long-term political solution that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all the people…”

The minister said: “Canada is prepared to assist Sri Lankan efforts to find political reconciliation and a lasting peace.”

He added: “Canadians are very concerned about the aftermath of the military action in Sri Lanka and the appalling effect it has had on civilians.”

The foreign minister said Sri Lanka must give the UN and other international humanitarian agencies access to internally displaced people.

Cannon said the decades-long war has inflicted untold misery on the people of Sri Lanka.

“The government of Canada wishes to express its concerns about civilian casualties, and to convey its condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and those around the world who have lost friends and family members in this horrific conflict,” he said.

Canada is home to more than 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils - the biggest group outside Sri Lanka.

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