Page 1

TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

it’s your sacrifice that makes - our souls collapse - but motives stronger Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and those still suffering in our homeland

Vol - 14


When the spring season approaches, everyone’s hearts are filled with a sense of youthfulness and freshness. The fragrance of flowers and the breeze that softly blows by are enough to turn a miserable day into a delighted one. In Canada, however, the spring of 2009 has been somewhat different. Instead of enjoying the new season with friends, Tamils of all ages have been protesting continuously throughout April. Back home, in Tamil Eelam, thousands of lives were thrashed by the indiscriminate chemical bombings of the Sri Lankan Army; thousands of Tamils were displaced by the inhumane acts of the Government of Sri Lanka early this month. Instead of waking up to a bed of flowers, Tamils in Tamil Eelam are waking up to beds of corpses; instead of hearing the laughter of children, Tamils in Tamil Eelam are hearing the cries of pain. A season meant to depict heaven is a living nightmare for Tamils back home. At such a time, it is impossible for the Tamil Diaspora to remain silent. To speak in an assembly (of the learned) without fullness of knowledge, is like playing at chess (on a board) without squares. - Thirukkural (Verse 401)

Tamils across the globe have joined hands, in solidarity to change the fate of Tamils once and for all. Through various nonstop protests and hunger strikes, the Tamil Diaspora has demanded the governments of their respective countries to bring an immediate and permanent ceasefire into effect in Sri Lanka. Tamils are determined to bring change, and will not stop until action is taken. The only solution for the peace of Tamils is Tamil Eelam, and the Tamil

TYO-Canada’s Vision: To work towards the enhancement of the Tamil Nation and to provide an avenue for the betterment of Tamil youth in canada

community will go as far as they have to in order to achieve it. Now’s the time to act; remember, if we remain silent now, we might not have another chance. In solidarity,

TYO – Canada

3-4

20

REACH Official E-Newsletter of TYO-Canada


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

National Liberation Movements in Global Context History Analaysis

Introduction This paper presents a general or global overview of the history, nature, causes and significance of national liberation movements in the second half of the Twentieth Century, in order to inform and put in global context the current Tamil political and armed struggle in Sri Lanka. While I’ve been asked here today not to give a lecture in Anthropology , but to convey something that anthropological knowledge and insight - in this case mine - might have to say about national liberation movements, I think I have to start by describing what anthropology is, and how anthropologists arrive at their understandings of the world. As a social or cultural anthropologist I am involved in the comparative study of human lifeways, and interested primarily in that uniquely human attribute, culture - that is, all of the learned, shared and taught ways in which human beings interact with one another and the world around them. Central to this study is meaning, for people, of all the world’s creatures, attribute meanings to their world, their acts, and themselves. The human reality is to a large extent socially constructed - a structure of meanings rather than of external “facts.” We share those meanings, our culture, with those who have shared our lives and experiences. Anthropologists know a good deal about how societies work, both in general and in specific cases, about the nature and interrelationship of politics, economics, religion, social organisation and technology in societies of the most diverse sorts, and especially about the processes and impact of change. We know these things because we have lived and conducted research in these societies, speaking the language of the people, participating as well as observing and asking about their activities, and

ABSTRACT: Future historians are likely to view the rise of national liberation movements and the start of the strategic arms race as the most momentous developments of the twentieth century.Viewed together, the two represent contrasting realities. One is a weapon of the weak; the other an affliction of technologically advanced, globally ambitious powers. If the arms race betrays the contemporary nation-states propensity to destruction, the movements for liberation suggest the power of hope, of peoples readiness to resist injustice and seek self-determination against seemingly impossible odds, invariably at extraordinary cost. Underlying the unprecedented rise of liberation struggles following the Second World war and formal decolonisation is the increasingly perceptible gap between the sorrows of the majority in Third World countries and the contentment of the few, between the coercive military apparatus of governments and the determined resistance of the governed. This paper presents a general or global overview of the nature, causes and significance of national liberation movements in the second half of the Twentieth Century, in order to inform and put in global context the current political and armed struggles of Tamil people of Sri Lanka.

Boston Tea Party: Colonists dumped the British’s tea into the Boston Harbor. The Reason being that they were angry at the British govenment for taxing the colonies. While the colonists were doing this you can see in the picture that they had dressed up as Native Americans.

we have compared these phenomena from society to society. Cross-cultural comparison is the hallmark of anthropology. My particular interest or specialisation within anthropology is the study of politics. Political anthropologists have studied the conflicts associated with the process of “decolonisation”

3

in the Third World, and have produced in-depth studies of a large number of national liberation movements in many different societies and cultures. We have also compared these studies, particularly identifying their similarities and differences. National liberation movements are complex struggles which vary substantially from case to case.


APRIL 2009

History Analaysis

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

The history of each is to some extent unique, and in order to understand any given liberation movement you have to place it within it’s specific historical, cultural, geographical and economic context. So it’s difficult to talk about them comparatively or generically. But they do share some important general traits, and it’s these which I hope to convey to you here. There are both armed and unarmed national liberation movements, but because the majority of them in the past and present have been associated with armed struggle, and because these are most similar to the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka, I’m going to concentrate on the armed or insurgent ones. And while there have been hundreds or even thousands of national liberation movements since the rise of the first states some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, I’m going to concentrate mostly on the modern ones in the so-called “postcolonial” era since the end of World War Two.

Caveat: “National Liberation” or “Armed Separatist” Movements? The use of the term “national liberation movements” has political implications, particularly when the groups so named are generally referred to by states and the media as “terrorists.” No one opposed to or critical of these movements calls them “national liberation movements” because liberation

George Washington rallying his troops in the battle of princeton

(freedom) has positive value connotations for most people. Nowadays, in the conservative global New Right era we live in, most academics seem to prefer the term “armed separatist (or secessionist) movements,” which they claim is a more objective or neutral description. This is not true; it isn’t that one label has value connotations and the other doesn’t, both have latent value connotations. In “armed separatist movement” the emphasis is on “armed” - the first word - which stresses means, in this case a means most people find morally problematic. Just as “liberation” expresses a positive value, “armed” stresses a generally negative one. Then separatism is stressed rather than freedom or independence; that they want to break up an existing state (usu-

ally one which most people have been taught about in school geography and assume to be “natural” and legitimate). I unapologetically use the term national liberation movements, because armed separatist movement is in no sense more objective or neutral, rather it is simply more conservative and prostate/government.

About the author

Note by Tamilnation.org:

Associate Professor, Social Anthropology Programme, Massey University, Pamerston North, New Zealand. Dr Sluka received his undergraduate degree from San Jose State University and PhD degree from the University of California, at Berkeley in Cultural Anthropology. His main fieldwork experience is in the Catholic ghettos of Northern Ireland and his topical interest is social, particularly ethnic, conflicts.

On 15 May 2007 - Ten years after Dr.Jeff Sluka’s paper, that which he said remains essential (and careful) reading for all those concerned to further their understanding of National Liberation Movements, the categorisation of National Liberation Movements as ‘Terrorist Organisations’ and the responses of the so called ‘International Community’ to freedom struggles. We need to understand before we can make ourselves understood.

4

To be Continued...


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Dr. Greg Stanton, the Founder and President of Genocide Watch, and the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, created the Eight Stages of Genocide to provide a methodical analysis to predict, and prevent genocides. The Eight Stages of Genocide are: Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination, and Denial.

Dr. Gregory Stanton:

The Eight Stages of Genocide 1. Classification: All languages and cultures require classification - division of the natural and social world into categories. All cultures have categories to distinguish between “us” and “them,” between members of our group and others: Racial and ethnic classifications.

Individuals are forced to carry ID cards identifying their ethnic or religious group. Identification greatly speeds the slaughter. In Germany, the identification of Jews, defined by law, was performed by a methodical bureaucracy. In Rwanda, identity cards showed each person’s ethnicity. Preparation also includes expropriation of the property of the victims. It may include concentration: herding of the victims into ghettos, stadiums, or churches. In its most extreme form, it even includes construction of extermination camps, as in Nazi-ruled Europe, or conversion of existing buildings – temples and schools – into extermination centers in Cambodia. Transportation of the victims to these killing centers is then organized and bureaucratized.

2. Symbolization: We use symbols to name and signify our classifications. We name some people Hutu and others Tutsi, or Jewish or Gypsy, or Christian or Muslim. Sometimes physical characteristics - skin color or nose shape - become symbols for classifications.

7. Extermination The seventh step, the final solution, is extermination. It is considered extermination, rather than murder, because the victims are not considered human. They are vermin, rats or cockroaches. Killing is described by euphemisms of purification: “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, “ratonade” (rat extermination) in Algeria. Targeted members of alien groups are killed, often including children. Because they are not considered persons, their bodies are mutilated, buried in mass graves or burnt like garbage.

3. Dehumanization: Classification and symbolization are fundamental operations in all cultures. They become steps of genocide only when combined with dehumanization. Denial of the humanity of others is the step that permits killing with impunity. The universal human abhorrence of murder of members of one’s own group is overcome by treating the victims as less than human. 4. Organization Genocide is always collective because it derives its impetus from group identification. It is always organized, often by states but also by militias and hate groups. The social organization of genocide varies by culture. It reached its most mechanized, bureaucratic form in the Nazi death camps. But it is always organized, whether by the Nazi SS or the Rwandan Interahamwe. Death squads may be trained for mass murder, as in Rwanda, and then force everyone to participate, spreading hysteria and overcoming individual resistance.

8. Denial Every genocide is followed by denial. The mass graves are dug up and hidden. The historical records are burned, or closed to historians. Even during the genocide, those committing the crimes dismiss reports as propaganda. Afterwards such deniers are called “revisionists.” Others deny through more subtle means: by characterizing the reports as “unconfirmed” or “alleged” because they do not come from officially approved sources; by minimizing the number killed; by quarreling about whether the killing fits the legal definition of genocide (“definitionalism”); by claiming that the deaths of the perpetrating group exceeded that of the victim group, or that the deaths were the result of civil war, not genocide. In fact, civil war and genocide are not mutually exclusive. Most genocide occurs during wars.

5. Polarization Genocide proceeds in a downward cycle of killings until, like a whirlpool, it reaches the vortex of mass murder. Killings by one group may provoke revenge killings by the other. Such massacres are aimed at polarization, the systematic elimination of moderates who would slow the cycle. The first to be killed in a genocide are moderates from the killing group who oppose the extremists: the Hutu Supreme Court Chief Justice and Prime Minister in Rwanda, the Tutsi Archbishop in Burundi. Extremists target moderate leaders and their families. 6. Preparation Preparation for genocide includes identification. Lists of victims are drawn up. Houses are marked. Maps are made.

5


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

Youth Actions - Canada

14 days infront of Parliament Hill A continuous plea, organized by the Tamil community started on April 7, 2009 in Ottawa at Parliament Hill. From infants to adults to university students to the elderly, thousands of Tamils were present at this 14 day protest day and night, urging Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act immediately to bring a permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

Day one of the protest began with a huge road block of one of the busiest intersections in Ottawa by a couple of outraged Tamil youth. Roads were blocked for a more than two hours leading to major delays in public transit.

On day two of the protest, five Tamil Canadians, Julius James, 34, Pushparajamani Nallaratnam, 46,Vaiseegamapathy Yogendran, 54, Mahalingam Sivaneshwari, 59, and Kanapathipillai Thulasisigamony, 74, initiated a hunger strike, demanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper to recall the Canadian ambassador from Sri Lanka.

6


Youth Actions - Canada

TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Following thirteen days of protesting, it was clear that no politicians were willing to come forward to talk to the Tamil protestors. The Canadian government stated that their presence would not be possible with the presence of the Tamil Eelam flag at the protest. As per their request, Tamil Canadians decided to give the Canadian government a chance and hesitantly lowered their flags and eagerly anticipated a positive action from the government. On April 21, 2009. More than 30 000 Tamils from all over Canada gathered in front of parliament hill. However, the only leader that addressed the crowd was New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton. On the other side, this nonstop protest gained a large amount of media attention and was followed closely by the rest of Canada over the 14 days. Many non-Tamil Canadians and Canadian unions stood in solidarity during the protest and raised their voice against the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka

7

Vol - 14


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Youth Actions - Canada

The plea continued in front of US embassy

Following the demonstrations at Parliament Hill, a nonstop demonstration was initiated in front of the US consulate in downtown Toronto by the Tamil youth on Thursday April 23, 2009. This demonstration was directed towards U.S. President Obama, asking him to take immediate action to save the Tamils in Sri Lanka. It continued throughout the month with many turn outs and various incidents.

8

Vol - 14


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

9pm-8am. April 26th 2009. Sri Lanka Threatens to kill 10,000

Youth Memoir

Youth Reflection

During the plea to USA

The word had leaked. The word had spread it was a matter of time before my people need more death beds panicked and helpless we gathered in protest preparing for non-stop chanting without rest the road we had blocked, seemed somewhat welcoming as though waiting for our arrival the police seemed to be co-operating I stood amongst thousands but yet felt alone I felt useless being there, but felt hopeless at home I scanned the crowd that had rushed together in minutes their minds probably raced faster than they made it The chanting belted loudly echoing against invisible walls that caged around us no cars drove by, no strangers surrounded us our message, loud and clear but nobody to hear it as the bitter night came through we sat, we yelled, I had seen some cry.. But our options narrowed within the past months there was not much left to do. It’s hard to continue a daily life while knowing the truth.

2pm-10am. April 27th 2009: Non-stop Protest Continues: weather was HOT The weather seemed too pleasant to believe the tragedies As though the sun itself was shining hope on us. Many reflected its light in their smiles. While standing as a group in unity, a feeling of strength automatically formed With numbers this large how can we be ignored? Although we have been shut down and ignored many times in the past Every time we hit the streets again we believe this time it’ll last Even through this new found hope in just being surrounded by one another Many elders stood still, with pain struck faces… Many were in deep thought, agony drawn deep in their eyes Thousands were furious and chanted their hearts out… Within the synchronized slogans the voices that had long expired were still straining to be heard The drumming reminds you of death, hammered reality your head with every bang it pounded bloody memories to your heart… as the drum stick viciously stroke its destination, bombs are taking their own vacation Some police had complained the drums through the night were annoying Some asked why we chanted through the dark, when many are gone after morning Some suggested sleep at night and chant by day Because at night other people are not walking our way. But the chanting for many, is not just to get our message across signing petitions, writing letters, and yelling does not feel enough to calm inner emotions that want to lash out in frustration… tears that want to turn your surroundings to ocean The Sri Lankan government does not sleep at night… Continued next page

9


APRIL 2009

Youth Reflection

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

They do not stop the killing of our innocent civilians the pain does not take rest so the injured can sleep The blood in them does not stop spilling across our land because the sun has left The dead do not return at night to cradle abandoned children… It’s not possible to dream at night, when our reality is a nightmare So with the moon up high we looked to the sky, a slight dimness we adjusted to, as the sun waved goodbye The drums beat through the night Our cries echoed through the dark As officers blankly stared…some sympathized...some amazed by the commitment… some simply didn’t care.. But all knew well now, why we were still there

3pm-3am. April 28th 2009 The sounds were too familiar now, I could barley hear them. People chanting...drums still beating… yet I felt as though I sat in silence. It felt as though it was a routine that we all had become accustomed to The early mornings held fewer people… the crowd swells up after 12pm After 4pm a sea of students appear After 7pm all the working parents, and whole families rally in… The crowd remains full until 12am again… and slowly people begin to disperse within 1am-3am Only to return again tomorrow. They leave the protest, hearts empty with sorrow.. hoping that the next will bring some kind of change.. but the days stay the same. Police officers appointed in every corner… to watch our safety, and to make sure of order Horses were restless, from one end to the other of the road Although we only occupied a certain amount the emptiness extended with parked police coach buses, bicycles, and cars Tonight I’ll sleep at home. The sounds of drumming are still playing in my head I’ll close my eyes awaiting the nightmare that’ll unfold once I’m in bed Maybe tomorrow...Maybe tomorrow…there will be something new Maybe tomorrow eyes will open and ears will hear... Maybe Tomorrow… But tonight we’ll wait in fear --Kiruthika Thusyanthan

Tamil Youth Organization - Canada

www.canadatyo.org 10


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Youth Reflection

Be the Change you wish to see in the world “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, famous words, once expressed by the peaceful protestor Mahatma Ghandi.This is exactly what the Tamils around the world are trying to do by protesting for the innocent civilians being slaughtered every second, in Sri Lanka. People have regarded us as a nuisance; disturbance to their normal lives, or even crazy, for thinking that Canada has any reason to partake in this. But I strongly believe that we have rights, as political citizens to exercise. If it were not for the civil rights movement and the “nuisances” caused by them, they would never have achieved equality in this nation. I mean, do we really need another history lesson in 10 years, about the genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka? Do I really need to read about Sharmila Sathiyakumar (the made up equivalent to the Jewish Anne Frank) and about how her family was affected by the hardships of the Sri Lankan Government. It is our duty to change history in the making that is bound to be for the worse. Now, let us forget about our political values and just focus on our moral obligations as human beings. The death and bloodshed of any human being is ethically devastating, and I do not believe in the murder of anyone to gain control, but desperate times have led to desperate measures. This whole war in Sri Lanka has been backboned and justified by the War on Terrorism. The Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam was classified as terrorists and the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse used this as his method of creating an invincible cloak around the crimes committed by his military. People need to re-

alize that rebels do not emerge out of nothing. There needs to be a constant civil strife which stirs up the need for the “effect of liberty to come into place”. Montesquieu said that “when the majority tries to overpower the minority, the citizens will take part to do what they can to stop the overruling”. There is something “suspicious” about a country telling all foreign aid workers and NGO’S trying to help out, to leave and stay out of the country. Would one not want all the foreign aid workers you could get at a time of constant strife to help out the civilians? This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be stopped.

right; in fact I don’t even believe they have any rights. Constantly moving because the area they currently live in is about to be bombed, searching for food and water to feed younger siblings and running from death is what the daily activities of a Tamil child in Sri Lanka is, and this is why we are in need of immediate assistance from Canada.

Nevertheless, Canadians need to understand that we are not a bunch of crazy people, screaming our heads off and taking time off work for nothing. This is a crisis that needs to be dealt with. Why should you care? Think of it in this way, if you were in a country We also need to take into con- where it was okay for your mother to sideration how lucky we are to live be raped in front of your eyes, your fain Canada, a country that strives to ther murdered and your sister blown protect its citizens in every way pos- up by a bomb, you would appreciate sible, and has laws which makes sure the fact that people around the world our essential needs are taken care of. were trying to stop this from happenChildren there are unable to receive ing to you. Ignorance may be bliss, but an education because all their schools reality is wicked.The reality is we need are bombed.York students made their help, and we’re not going to stop until views clear how the strike affected we achieve this! their lives, and diminished their right to an education. These children in Sri -Jessica Thyriar Lanka are not even considered for that York University Student

11


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

Nonstop Protest and Candlelight Vigil in Australia April 11

Youth Actions - World

As part of the nonstop protest in Australia,

a hunger strike without water was initiated by outraged Tamil youth on April 11 in Sydney, Australia. As a result of the escalating atrocities reported in Sri Lanka, the fast and protest was shifted to Kirribilli Avenue, in front of Prime Minister Kevin Rudds residence the following day. Thousands of Tamils flooded the roads, regardless of the rain, protesting for the prime minister to take immediate action. A similar demonstration occurred in Melbourne, Australia, where four Tamils are on a committed hunger strike. This protest gained a lot of support from the mainstream media. On April 28, over 800 Australians staged a silent candle light vigil, urging the Prime Minister to condemn the Sri Lankan government for its shameful actions.

B r e a k - i n g the Silence: Awareness Week

‘Breaking the Silence: Awareness Week’ organised by

Students Against the Genocide of Tamils (S.A.G.T) took place at numerous universities across London in the last few days. The awareness week was ended successfully on Wednesday 31st March, 2009, by the Tamil Society at Middlesex University. An exhibition focussing on the humanitarian crisis in Vanni was displayed which attracted many Tamils and non-Tamils. Many lecturers attended the exhibition and expressed their disbelief and support.

12


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Youth Actions - World

Human Chain in Switzerland

M

ore than 1000 Swiss Tamils participated in a human chain to demand their government to place pressure on the Sri Lankan government. The protesters held up posters and signs, chanting slogans in Dutch, English, and Tamil.Young children to seniors stood out in the pouring rain, for almost three hours, to urge that their government take immediate action.

Vigil in Melbourne, Australia Over 1500 Tamils took part in a vigil to mourn the dead from the humanitarian catastrophe Sri Lanka. Tamils dressed in black clothes, and distributed brochures describing the acts of genocide of the Sri Lankan government in Sri Lanka.

13

April 21


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

Youth Actions - World

Nonstop Protest in France

A

nonstop emergency protest took place in Paris, France starting April 6, 2009. From infants to the elderly, thousands of Tamils took part in this protest, voicing the atrocities and the genocide of Tamils by the Government of Sri Lanka. Selvakumar Albert, age 27, Ananthakumarasamy Raviraj, age 26,Vicknesvaran Varnan, age 23 and Shanmugarajah Navaneethan, age 26, started a hunger strike, insisting France to bring an end to the genocide of Tamils, send immediate aide to the affected Tamils, restrict Sri Lanka’s use of banned weapons and lift the ban on the LTTE.successfully.

Motor Rally in Switzerland

Tamil youth engaged in a motor rally on the

main roads of Zurich, Switzerland on April 25, demanding that Sri Lanka ends its acts of genocide.Vehicles carried the Tamil Eelam flag and placards portraying the genocide of Tamils.

14


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Nonstop Protest in Norway

Youth Actions - World

Members of the Tamil community,

including youth, initiated a nonstop emergency protest on 06-04-2009 in Oslo, Norway, demanding that the Norway government took steps to bring an end to the GoSL’s genocide of Tamils. Initially starting with a small crowd who were informed of the protest through emails and text messages, the protest grew to a crowd of thousands. Protestors chanted various slogans and held posters depicting the genocide in Sri Lanka. Mainstream media was present at the protest.

Protests in Switzerland

A protest was held in the city of Zurich on April 6

and a nonstop protest was held in Bern from April 6-April 11 in Switzerland .The non-Tamil residents of Zurich, South Africans, Indians and Chinese people participated in the Zurich protest in solidarity with hundreds of Tamil protestors. Protestors demanded the government of Switzerland to take immediate action to aide the Tamils in the Vanni region, to recognize the struggle for Tamil Eelam, and bring an end to Sri Lanka’s use of chemical weapons through various chants.

15


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Youth Actions - World

Protest in Britain Thousands of Tamils from Britain engaged in a nonstop emergency protest this month. The protest took place in front the Westminister Bridge, where two Tamils, Sivatharshan Sivakumar, age 21, and Kuddy Maniyam, age 28, began a hunger strike, putting forth five demands to the government of Britain. On April 22, thousands of British Tamil students of varying ages gathered in front of Parliament Hill, protesting for the implementation of a permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka. This gathering attracted a lot of Non-Tamils as well as media. Tamils continue to protest, regardless of the harsh climate, in hope of a positive response from the government of Britain.

Vigil in Melbourne, Australia Over 1500 Tamils took part in a vigil to mourn the dead from the

humanitarian catastrophe Sri Lanka. Tamils dressed in black clothes, and distributed brochures describing the acts of genocide of the Sri Lankan government in Sri Lanka.

16

Vol - 14


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Youth Actions - World

Protest in London

More than 200 000 members of the Britain

Tamil community took part in a protest emphasizing the much needed permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka. The British Tamils flooded the Thames River streets holding various banners and placards illustrating the humanitarian disaster in Vanni. The protesters chanted slogans and marched to Hyde Park where a gathering took place. Many parliamentarians and Tamil activists addressed the crowd, stressing the need for a permanent ceasefire and an intervention by the international community in Sri Lanka.

Sinhalese Attack Tamils in Melbourne

A motor rally organized by the Tamil Youth Organization in Melbourne on April 4, 2009 calling for a free Tamil Eelam was interrupted and attacked by drunken members of the Sinhala community. The Sinhalese injured many Tamil individuals and demolished several cars that were part of the rally.

17


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

Youth Actions - World

Candlelight Vigil in Australia

Over 400 Australian Tamils held a candle light vigil at Mar-

tin Place, Sydney from 7.30PM – 9.00PM on April 21, 2009 to mourn the loss of over 2000 Tamil civilians, who had been killed in the last 24 hours due to Sri Lankan Military offensives in the North of the island of Sri Lanka. The event was organized by the Australian Tamil community in less than 2 hours through text messaging and emails.

Protest in Melbourne More than 3 000 Tamils in Melbourne came together, in a short time, to condemn the Sri Lankan

government’s actions. Protestors chanted slogans, such as “Stop the Genocide” and “Australia, save the Tamils”. Mainstream media was present at the protest.

18


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Youth Q & A

Questions??? Ask Your Peers Many questions exist among our youths regarding many issues that are affecting our everyday lives. Therefore, we have decided to introduce an “Ask Your Peers” section in our e-newsletter, to assist the youth in overcoming their concerns.Youth needing answers or clarifications can send in questions to reach@canadatyo.org by the 20th of each month with the subject “Ask Your Peers.” We will keep all of your questions anonymously.Your questions will be answered in the following issue. Why are we urged to continue to send letters, e-mails, and faxes to political figures? By doing this, we are maintaining a sort of personal contact with these politicians. There is a lot of false propaganda released by the Sri Lankan government, not to mention the dedicated work of the Singhalese to provide false information to not only politicians, but to the general public. By means of continuously sending letters, emails, faxes and personally calling politicians, we are presenting another side of the issue. When a lot of people do the above, we are able to show to the politicians a strong perspective of the issue, and it will eventually lead to action in support of justice. We must get non-Tamils involved in our protests. How can we accomplish this?

Following the Ottawa protest, there were questions from the Tamil community regarding why youth did not participate in the meeting with the politicians at the parliament. Why did the youth not participate? The protests that take place throughout Canada are organized by the Tamil community as a whole under a collective leadership. In order to successfully take these protests forward, the different sectors of the community are given different responsibilities. In this manner, those that participated in the meeting with the politicians at the parliament were those who have experience working with politicians and were thus given that responsibility. The youth were given other responsibilities during the protest. Although it is believed by the Tamil community that we must stand behind the Tamil youth in these protests, we must understand that experience is also necessary for success.

By means of the many protests held by the Tamil community, we have shown to the world that Tamils have and will continue to stand in solidarity to bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. Nonetheless, it is not enough for only Tamils to voice the genocide in Sri Lanka. It is extremely important for non-Tamils to also voice the crisis in Sri Lanka with the Tamils. This way, we will be able to show to the world that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka is not only a Tamil issue, but also a humanitarian issue. In order to get non-Tamils involved, as Tamils, we must educate them. The internet and mainstream media contain a lot of false information. This information may shape the perspective that many non-Tamils have towards the Tamil crisis. Thus, we must make sure that non-Tamils have access to the right information. The best way to educate non-Tamils is to directly talk to them. Talk, clarify and answer the questions of non-Tamils that you get the opportunity to talk to, including those that attend you schools and workplaces. Moreover, it is extremely important that we ensure that the articles published regarding the Tamil crisis reveal the truth. In that manner, it is extremely important that we read articles published in the mainstream media. If the articles state the truth, we must appreciate the writer so that the truth continues to be published. If false information is published, it is our responsibility to write comments clarifying the real situation and correcting the false.

19


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Tamil child

Sinhala child

Do You See No Evil?

Vol - 14

The words out of a Sinhala mouth is “I see no evil” Then explain why Lanka looks like the holocaust’s sequel The Tamil population being imposed upon a sea of blood The red waters make a mockery out of the New Orlean’s flood The infatuation the Government has to create a Sinhala state Has led to Tamils being filled up in heaven, right to the gate I ponder upon how the military can shut their eyes and pretend to sleep When just down the road a Tamil mother cannot seize to weep With no mercy on mother nor father nor children nor kin I realize that the devil must be deep inside the Sinhala within With the numerous Tamil bodies that plague the TV screens Why does the world look at us and tell us hope is merely in dreams Preposterous! Hope is a God given right to everybody that breathe Hope upon prayer sent to my Tamils to be freed You might of heard of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda Where the world stood idle and silent, even our Canada The carcasses filled the streets as far as the eye could see But the world shut its eyes, hoping the blood wouldn’t reach its knee But guess what? It did. And all that was given was an inconsiderate apology Well that’s said and done, so let them get back to murder at any degree My Tamils want to be free from this murder with no reconciliation But all that is received are false promises and obliteration “Blood, sweat and tears” is an absolute infamous cliché But this is the stone cold reality of Tamils everyday The world sits quiet scared to call the situation a genocide So sit and enjoy your coffee while another Sinhala commits a homicide There are children killed, men tortured and women raped So world, make sure you can’t see anything, keep your windows draped Twenty odd years, we sit in a pool of blood and filth While the Sinhala enjoy what our Tamil forefathers built When I was educated about the holocaust in history class I felt no emotion, I’m used to seeing dead bodies sitting in the grass Prayer from any faith even if its an unfamiliar religion All prayer and hope will help to fuel us like a halogen We’ve cried and pleaded for much too much time It seems that asking for freedom has become some what of a crime Take a second right now and pray for my brother and sister Alive or not, keep praying until you knees blister Take the second to pray for the ones that are alive and those that are dead “Pray to thy Lord for He holds hope for those whose blood hath been shed” -- Partiban Giritharan

REACH Annual Contest 2009

Tamil Youth Organization would like to extend its appreciation to all those who participated in the REACH Annual Contest 2009. As stated in our March issue, one person from all the contestants who accurately completed the questionnaire and came up with a creative slogan was drawn to be the winner of the iPod Nano. Sarmatha Sivarajah was drawn as this year’s winner of our contest. Our congratulations go out to Sarmatha. Once again, we would like to thank all of those who participated in our contest and we look forward to your continued support. Due to the continued tragedy in our homeland, we did not give much needed attention to this contest in this issue. However, we respect all of your concerns. Therefore if any of the contestants or anyone else have any questions, please feel free to contact us through e-mail.

20


TYO - Canada

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

Get Involved

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.” - Barack Obama, (President of the Unites States of America)

Speak Out As Tamil youth in Canada, we have the ultimate duty of educating others, as well as ourselves of the suffering of the Tamil people. Understanding is crucial. And with understanding comes awareness, the most essential step in the path to progress. Ignorance is not a bliss. • Stay updated with recent news • Write to your local politicians • Attend rallies • Enlighten non-Tamil peers • Write a poem, articles, essay • Research, understand and recite

Join TYO Our doors are always open to new members that are looking to make a difference for Tamils around the world. As an organization with the interests of Tamil youth at heart, TYO provides opportunities for Canadian Tamil youth to network, contribute, and develop their skills in various areas as well. Interested in getting involved? Please contact us at contact@canadatyo.org Or visit us at www.canadatyo.org

21


APRIL 2009

TYO - Canada

Vol - 14

Get Involved

WRITE

For the beautiful moments For the tragic times With your heart and no regrets

For our next month’s issue: Submit your written work based on

‘what’s on your mind?’ Please follow the guidelines below. Don’t forget to add reach@canadatyo.org to your e-mail safe list. We appreciate all of your time and effort. TYO - Canada

Guidelines: o All submissions must be in English o You may create your own title for your work o Written work should be within 750 words (or 2 pages letter sized), 12 pt font (Times) o Can be written in any form (article, research essay, poem, story, etc.) o Include your name, contact info, and University/ College/ High School (If applicable) o Submit before May 25th, 2009 o Must be e-mailed to reach@canadatyo.org with the subject ‘Reach-May 2009’ o Please attach a word file or copy and paste your work in your e-mail

22


TYO - Canada

We have no words nor the voice to explain our pain...

APRIL 2009

Vol - 14

REACH - April 2009  

Official e-newsletter of TYO-Canada