Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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TWA: Deep Concern Over Riots in Trinco


Trincomalee Welfare Association

18 Wincrest Drive, Scarborough, Ontario, M1P 4J4.  Phone: 416 264 8591

For Immediate Release


Canadian Tamils Express Deep Concern Over Riots in Eastern Sri Lanka 

Is Canada’s Ban Pushing Sri Lanka to the Brink of War?

The Trincomalee Welfare Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the terror and violence unleashed on the residents of Trincomalee in Eastern Sri Lanka. Nineteen civilians have been killed and forty-five more wounded in riots that were instigated by extremist elements backed by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces after a bomb explosion reportedly killed a soldier on the 12th of April in the region.  Over 30 Tamil owned businesses and over 50 houses have been burned down.  Many Tamils have been forced to flee their homes in fear and are staying in refugee camps or with friends and families.

In the wake of the riots, Tamil Canadians are also reeling from the shock of the news.  “My aunt’s and uncle’s house was destroyed and their three stores were set a blaze, too. Everything is gone, even their clothes and school certificates. They have nothing,” said Ms. Subajini Somasundaram, a Montreal resident of Trincomalee descent.

Mr. Ragunathan Thaganvadivelu, a resident in Toronto, also had his aunt’s house and store robbed during the incident. “They are only alive today because they fled.  My family there is very shaken by the incident and I fear very much for their safety,” said a worried Mr. Thaganvadivelu. “There are reports of armed groups entering Tamil residences and attacking Tamils during curfew hours and there hasn’t been a single arrest.  The military just stood by and did nothing.   They say that the thugs who carried out the riots were even given rides by the military.   How can such things happen during a curfew and be allowed go on?” he further asked.

The Tamils are having their livelihoods targeted in a systematic way, according to Mr. M.  Rajasingham, a spokesperson for the Trincomalee Welfare Association.  “This is a systematic campaign by the Sri Lankan military to inflame tensions in the region and disrupt the peace process.  The scale of the violence is making it a very scary situation,” Mr. Rajasingham said.  An anti-Tamil pogrom in 1983 sparked the current civil war.

According to the spokesperson, his organization believes that Canada’s recent decision to ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) may have caused the flare-up in violence.  “We can see the effect Canada’s ill-timed ban is having on the fragile peace process.  There hasn’t been violence of this magnitude since the ceasefire was signed.  It is clear that the Sinhalese extremists and the armed forces are emboldened by the ban and are trying to destroy the peace,” he commented further.  

State-sanctioned violence has been escalating in the last few months, claiming the lives of prominent Tamil politicians, journalists, and civil society leaders.  It was only days before the Canadian ban that Mr. Vanniasingham Vigneswaran, the President of the Trincomalee District Tamil Peoples' Forum was assassinated by armed groups working under the aegis of the State’s security forces. 

The Trincomalee Welfare Association strenuously calls on the Government of Canada to condemn this violence perpetrated on innocent Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan state and take immediate steps to protect the lives of our relatives in the region. 

We call on our government to take stern measures against the Sri Lankan government for its continued failure to comply with the Ceasefire Agreement and work towards finding a lasting peace.  We urge Canada to consider ending diplomatic ties and imposing sanctions against the Sri Lankan Government as two concrete and pragmatic steps that will aid in ending the vortex of violence in Sri Lanka.       

For further information, contact the Trincomalee Welfare Association at 416-693-1431

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