This is very much a story about media fear-mongering about brown people coming to Canada.
Now, I don't know if news organizations have paid attention, but the LTTE have been pretty much been annihilated. By that I obviously don't mean to say that there are no Tamil Tigers left, but organizationally, they've pretty much hit the bucket. What are they going to be doing in Canada? Raising funds? What for? The war is over.
We were warned last time that there were Tamil Tiger "terrorists" on board, but no one has either been arrested or sent back to Sri Lanka, as far as I know. Granted, this time the Sri Lankan government is saying that the ship's crew and some passengers belong to the Tamil Tigers, but considering how racist this government is, what's that worth? I mean if they are Tamil Tigers, I'm guessing that they have even more of a case in claiming refugee status in Canada, since they can be severely mistreated in Sri Lanka, if not killed in the case of the most serious commanders. I don't know.
The whole media circus around this stinks to high heaven. I hope no one on board is seriously sick; there have been reports of TB. The Victoria hospital has opened a ward for them, at least. Great thanks for public health care.
It is widely believed that the arrest was made possible through “inside information” supplied by some members of the LTTE abroad who were opposed to KP donning the tiger leadership mantle after the demise of supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.
As the senior most LTTE member alive, KP assumed leadership of the tigers after Prabhakaran’s demise.
This was vehemently opposed by a section of the Diasporic tigers led by Perinbanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyavan
The LTTE hardliners were disappointed with KP’s public acknowledgement that Prabhakaran was dead and also his announcement that the armed struggle had ended.
A spokeswoman for the groups, Charu Lata Hogg, said the motives for the abductions were unclear but some children were being questioned about alleged links to the Tamil Tiger rebels, or LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is an umbrella group of global organisations which includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
It said it had received verified reports of abductions from camps in and around Vavuniya in the north.
It alleges that groups like the EPDP, PLOTE and the TMVP-Karuna faction - all Tamil paramilitary groups affiliated to the government - have unfettered access to the camps despite the presence of the Sri Lankan military.
by Joe Fiorito
The people who closed the roads in recent days are the people who live next door to you and me; their relatives are caught up in a long and brutal war; their relatives have died, or they are starving in refugee camps; the word is that chemical weapons are being thrown at them, but no one is sure of the claims or counter-claims because no journalists can get in to take a look.
A road gets closed here.
A country is closed there.
I had a chat with Gunam Verakathipillai the other day. He is a Canadian; that is a Canadian name now. He is also Tamil, from Sri Lanka. He came here in 1987.
Long enough for you?
Gunam was on a hunger strike on the lawn at Queen's Park until yesterday afternoon. He was planning to starve himself to death unless there was some sort of action.
His life has just been saved by Jack Layton, who promised to push the Prime Minister to urge a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. That's all it took. A promise to urge.
How Canadian is that?
Gunam went without food for two weeks. I get twitchy if I miss lunch. He is 52 years old. He did not get up when I stepped inside his tent to chat the other day.
The hunger strike is now over. Gunam has made his point. Someone actually listened.
Now, what do you need to know about the roads?
Fears of Sri Lanka "Catastrophe"
The Red Cross says its staff in Sri Lanka are witnessing an "unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" in the area where troops have trapped Tamil Tigers.
The agency says a ferry loaded with aid has been unable to reach the battered north-eastern coastal strip for three days because of fighting.
The Sri Lankan army earlier said that more than 2,000 civilians had waded across a lagoon to escape to safety.
There are also reports that staff have quit the last hospital in the war zone.
Medics abandoned the hospital after persistent shelling over recent days, unverified reports say.
As the humanitarian situation worsened, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, was being rushed back to Sri Lanka to press for the protection of trapped civilians, a UN spokeswoman said.
In another development on Thursday, former colonial power Britain said the Sri Lankan government could face investigation into possible war crimes, as a result of violence against civilians caught up in the fighting.
The UN says about 50,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone, although Colombo disputes this figure.
U.N. envoy arrives in Sri Lanka, Clinton says IMF should not loan $1.9B to Sri Lanka right now
Sri Lanka army 'in final stage'
Sri Lanka's army says it is in the "final stage" of operations against the Tamil Tigers with troops just 1.5km short of "dominating the whole coast".
President Mahinda Rajapksa was quoted as saying that all trapped civilians would be "rescued from rebel control" within two days.
The government has rejected international calls for a truce.
The United Nations is sending a new envoy to discuss the crisis, but says a bloodbath "seems to be inevitable".
At UN, Sweden Links EU Tariffs to Sri Lanka Carnage, and Inner City Press points out that the brother of the U.N. envoy to Sri Lanka is an Indian general who has recently praised the Sri Lankan Army's offensive.
Why do Sri Lanka's Tamils watch the carnage in silence?
COLOMBO - Thousands of Tamils in European capitals and elsewhere continue to press the United Nations and Western governments to stop the war in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government dismisses these protests as efforts to provide a lifeline to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is now on the brink of certain defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces.
But the diaspora Tamils say they are protesting to save their kith and kin who are either suffering in a five square kilometer theatre of war or several military-run camps.
Though the true picture of the war zone is still hazy, one thing is certain - the civilians are suffering. But, strangely, the Tamils living in other parts of Sri Lanka stage no protest. They once called the Tamil Tigers "our boys". But there are no demonstrations in Jaffna, Batticaloa or other Tamil areas in Sri Lanka as the security forces are all set to score a landmark victory over the "boys".
Why aren't they protesting? Why can't the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the main Tamil party in parliament, mobilize the country's Tamils and take to the streets?
Sri Lanka refugees flee amid hail of Tiger fire (note: AP article with government source only)
Thomas Walkom's lame column: Tangled theology of terrorism - Since when Rosie DiManno make more sense than Walkom?
Terrorism is a tactic, not an end. Throughout history, armed groups – from the Jewish Irgun in British-controlled Palestine to Nelson Mandela's African National Congress in South Africa to Hamas in Gaza – have employed terror.
Sorting out right from wrong in the decades-old Sri Lankan civil war is an impossible task. Both sides have committed atrocities. The LTTE, which invented the modern practice of suicide bombing, is criticized by Amnesty International for recruiting of child soldiers.
"Doesn't bother me," eh? That's a strange formulation. I'm also flabbergasted by his guess that "most public and media sympathic is with the Tamils"... There was no media coverage, let alone sympathy, until very recently. The Star's been pretty good so far though, other than in their unsigned editorials, but who reads these?
Ontario Liberals worry of losing Tamil-heavy ridings to the NDP
As protesters rallied at Queen's Park, the Tamils' plight dominated the weekly Liberal caucus meeting, with MPPs urging Premier Dalton McGuinty to support a politically loyal community.
Behind closed doors Tuesday, MPP after MPP reminded the premier that the 200,000-strong Tamil community has long backed the Liberals, voting en masse and volunteering in campaigns.
"If we're not careful, there are at least five ridings we could lose if the Tamils go over to the NDP. ... They work very hard for us," warned one MPP.
Sri Lankan shelling of hospital kills 50 as aides hide in bunkers
Tamil rally spills into streets
Thousands of defiant Tamils and their supporters once again clogged downtown roads and brought traffic to a standstill as a daylong protest spilled into the streets from Queen's Park late yesterday.
And for the first time, signs of blatant anti-Tamil sentiments emerged in the form of an aircraft that circled the Legislature for 20 minutes dragging a sign that read: "Protect Canada Stop Tamil Tigers!"
The message incensed the large crowd and gave the police some tense minutes just before 4 p.m.
"It's not a smart thing to do," said Staff Insp. Don Campbell of the circling aircraft. "All it's doing is fuelling the crowd. It's inciting them."
About 60 anti-Tamil protesters on a footbridge spanning the Don Valley Parkway north of Gerrard St. held a similar banner in the evening. They said a wealthy local Sinhalese who wants to remain anonymous paid for the airplane and the two banners, but they denied links to the Sri Lankan government.
Members of Toronto's Sri Lankan community used a banner pulled behind a plane in the sky and a banner and placards over the Don Valley Parkway today to express their fear the Tamil community will bring Tamil Tiger violence to Canada.
"We want Toronto to be safe. The Tamil Tigers are controlling the Sri Lankan community in Canada and their agenda is the only one being heard. We feel we are being controlled," said Kumar Gunasekera, one of about 50 people who waved placards and hung a banner over the Don Valley footbridge to Riverdale during this evening's rush hour.
The airplane pulling another banner circled over the huge Queen's Park demonstration, enraging the protesters crowded there. The banners read: "Protect Canada - Stop the Tamil Tigers." The demonstrators at the Don Valley bridge said they represent more than 50,000, until now, silent Sinhalese Canadians. "What should be of real concern is the 1,000 cadres of Tamil Tigers in the GTA and the violence we have yet to see here," he added.
The bridge demonstrators were members of the Sri Lankan Youth of Canada and the Sir Lankan United National Association.They said today's airplane message was paid for by private citizens, and neither the Sri Lankan government nor consulate in Toronto. "We only hear one side of the story and it is the Tamil agenda," said Eranga De-Zoysa, a Ryerson architectural science student."They have ruined their motherland and now that Canada has offered them shelter they are ruining it here," added his mother Badra De-Zoysa.
The banners and placards urged Canadians to not accept the Tamil Tiger agenda and not cave into terrorism.
( Read the whole article here )
(New York) - New satellite imagery and eyewitness accounts contradict Sri Lankan government claims that its armed forces are no longer using heavy weapons in the densely populated conflict area in northern Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said today.
Local sources have reported that more than 400 civilians have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded since May 9, 2009, as a result of artillery attacks on the thin coastal strip where fighting continues between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"Recent satellite photos and witness accounts show the brutal shelling of civilians in the conflict area goes on," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Neither the Sri Lankan army nor the Tamil Tigers appear to have any reluctance in using civilians as cannon fodder."
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today issued a preliminary analysis of commercial high-resolution satellite imagery of the conflict zone that shows craters from the use of heavy weapons and the removal of thousands of likely structures used by internally displaced persons (IDPs) between May 6 and May 10. The AAAS found that it was "certainly unlikely that the IDPs would have moved en masse, and so completely without a compelling reason." Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the conflict area.
UK, US plea over Sri Lanka crisis
The US and UK have urged Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels to stop fighting "immediately" and allow an evacuation of trapped civilians.Where is Stephen Harper? Where is Canada?
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her UK counterpart David Miliband also expressed alarm at the large number of reported civilian casualties.
The US and UK have urged Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels to stop fighting "immediately" and allow an evacuation of trapped civilians.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her UK counterpart David Miliband also expressed alarm at the large number of reported civilian casualties.
Tamils protest at the White House, ask "coalition of the willing" to intervene in Sri Lanka. Coalition of the wh-what? Sigh.
Accusing Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa of abdicating his responsibility to save civilians in restive north, Tamil Americans
here have asked US President Barack Obama to send his forces to the strife-torn nation to save the lives of innocent people.
"This is pure and simple genocide. We are asking Obama administration to intervene to save the Tamils of Sri Lanka
by sending its army there. The Rajapaksa government has abdicated its responsibility to protect its Tamil citizens," alleged Elias Jeyarajah, leader of the protesting Tamil Americans.
"We are asking unilateral action by the 'Coalition of the Willing' led by the US to intervene in Sri Lanka to stop the genocide that is going on right now," he said.
Stating that thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were being killed by the Sri Lankan government, Jeyarajah said that this is the time and place to enforce 'Responsibility to Protect' provision of the United Nations.
"We urge all other countries including Britain and France to join this Coalition of the Willing," he said, adding civilized nations have the responsibility to protect when genocide happens.
The protestors also alleged that India was not coming forward to protect the Sri Lankan Tamils.
"This is the reason why the Tamils world over are urging other major countries of the world to save and protect the innocent Tamils by sending their troops to Sri Lanka," Jeyarajah said.
The India part might have something to do with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, hmmm?
Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes
(New York) - The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Commanders responsible for ordering or conducting such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.
Patients, medical staff, aid workers, and other witnesses have provided Human Rights Watch with information about at least 30 attacks on permanent and makeshift hospitals in the combat area since December 2008. One of the deadliest took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared "no-fire zone," killing 68 persons and wounding 87.
Tamils have the "right" to protest--we'll give them that because we are oh-so-generous and believe in abstract rights that cease to exist as soon as they inconvenience us--but said protests must conform to the tame and ineffectual standards of the impotent Canadian left.
Let's be honest here. White people in Canada, including the government, did not give a flying fuck about the plight of the Tamils until Tamil-Canadians escalated their protests. White people in Canada still don't give a flying fuck about the plight of Tamils, so this concern troll talk about alienating Canadians and losing support is bollocks. They never had that support, or any hope of gaining it, no matter how saintly and impeccable their behaviour.
What it comes down to is that white people hold brown people to a different ethical standard than they hold themselves to. The death toll in Sri Lanka now stands at around 8,500 over the past few months, and Tamil-Canadians have responded with peaceful protests. When a few thousand or so Americans and a handful of Canadians died on Sept. 11, 2001, the response was anything but non-violent. It was a brutal, bloody rampage against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq (who, like the Canadian commuters, had nothing to do with the murders). We demand not only pacifism from our fellow human beings in the face of their suffering--though we, the pasty-faced we, are anything but non-violent ourselves--but worse, we demand utter passivity.
She also links to this excellent Royson James column. Yes, the usually irritating Royson James.
One Tamil protester told The Canadian Press the government is trying to use the flag to distract the public from their inaction towards the crisis in Sri Lanka.
"We can see that they are using the flag kind of like a shield to kind of divert any bad situation," said Siva Vimal, 20.
The red flags in questions feature a tiger jumping through a ring of fire under two crossed rifles. Vimal said the flags are a symbol of the Tamil Eelam movement, not the Tamil Tigers.
He said the writing on the flag that linked the flag to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was removed in 1990 when it came to represent the Tamil Eelam.
Tamil supporters in Canada have told the media repeatedly that they will not stop their protests until the government speaks out against the civil war in Sri Lanka that has killed thousands of Tamil civilians.
Oda told Canada AM that the Conservatives have taken "significant steps" by calling for a ceasefire for months.
She said she is sympathetic to Tamil Canadians and their fears they have for their families and friends who live in the conflict zone back in their homeland.
"I think the international community all face the same frustrations," she said. "We don't have the ability to get accurate information or numbers. It's so frustrating because journalists and humanitarian workers are all being prevented from entering the conflict zone."
"We need unhindered access to provide humanitarian workers into those camps to help those victims," she said.
Why don't do press harder to achieve just that, Oda? Where is your United Nations motion? Where is your lobbying of the Security Council, of the United States?
Mr. Speaker, violence continues in Sri Lanka today while Tamil Canadians mourn death after death. Civilians are being massacred and Canada has failed to step up to the international plate. Yesterday the UN called this conflict a “bloodbath”, but the UN is still not allowed a role in securing safety for civilians.
Mr. Speaker, volunteers are today digging mass graves for Tamil women and children killed by Sri Lankan army shelling. Tens of thousands more have been herded into government detention camps where British television exposed horrific living conditions, murders, disappearances and rampant sexual abuse of women.
Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):
Statement by New Democrat Leader Jack Layton on Tamil protest in Toronto
Mon 11 May 2009
Tamil-Canadians continue to protest to stop the violence in Sri Lanka. Last night, I worked with the Toronto Chief of Police, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Police Services Board and representatives from the Canadian Tamil Congress to ensure the safe conclusion of the protest that had blocked the Gardiner Expressway.
I have urged the Prime Minister to have officials meet with respected Tamil-Canadian leaders in Toronto to discuss how Canada can better work towards an end to violence in Sri Lanka. I repeat that call today.
New Democrats will also continue our call for the Prime Minister to apply diplomatic pressure on the Sri Lanka President to end the conflict and work with the UN Security Council towards a lasting peace process.
The ongoing protests have caught the attention of Canadians, the media and the opposition parties, yet the Prime Minister and his Conservative MPs still refuse to act. Too many women, men and children are already the casualties of violence in Sri Lanka. Canada must work to stop the violence now.
It has taken a while for non-Tamil support to build because of the confusion about the role of the Tamil Tigers. The discourse on the war on terror has allowed goverments like ours to ignore massive slaughter of civilians by oppressive states in the name of fighting terrorism. Moreover the Tamil Tigers have committed atrocities. But whatever our concerns about the Tigers it is critical to separate the human rights issues from the political ones.Read Judy's full entry.
We have a special responsibility to mobilize support for the Tamil community in Canada as they are the largest Tamil diaspora in the world. So please take a moment to express your support by writing your MP, calling in to talk shows, writing letters to the editor , joining the demonstrations, whatever you can do.
Moreover, we can learn from the Tamil activists who have be organizing for months, escalating their tactics in face of silence from the government. First they organized protests on the sidewalk in Toronto, where most of them live, then they took their protest to Ottawa, where they had thousands of people on the Hill for days. Finally when they agreed to take down their flags only Jack Layton spoke in support. When that didn't get more of an impact they sat down in front of the US Consulate for an entire week. That's when they started getting more attention from the media, from other community organizations and from some politicians.Yesterday I was assisting at a Q and A for Velcrow Ripper's fantastic film about combining spirit and activism, Fierce Light, opening in theatres on May 15, and someone asked, "What can we do in Canada, where people are so complacent" I pointed out that at that very moment there were people demonstrating at Queen's Park to stop a genocide in Sri Lanka and he could join them. Over the last year, we have seen massive protests by Tamils, Palestinians and Burmese. The 20th anniversary of the massacre at Tienamen Square is coming up on June 4. Unlike when I was young and demonstrating against the war in Viet Nam, today the people from the conflict regions of the world are our neighbours. Their struggle is our struggle. Talking about the global village may be a cliche but the global city is a reality and Toronto is in the forefront. We are all Tamils.
I have written to my MP, Olivia Chow. Not so much because I think the NDP needs to be convinced that this is a right cause, but to counterbalance the mail probably coming in from the car drivers who are pissed off at their traffic being affected who won't care that there is a war on the other side of the globe which greatly affects one of Toronto's largest communities.
I went to the Tamil protest that is blocking University Avenue since Sunday at the American Consulate. I'd say that there were about 500 to 1000 Tamils there chanting non-stop. There was a sea of Tamil Tiger and American flags, with some Canadian flags in between. The protest's emphasis is to ask Obama to get involved. The protest is still going; the organizers say that they will not leave until there is a ceasefire. There was a lot of very long banners; you could ring the whole protest with them. Strangely enough, jute rope has been deployed in many places, kind of creating a pen on the street. There was a sound system broadcasting the cheerleadering from one guy in particular, but there were a lot of megaphones and some subsections of the protest were going at their own beat. Actually, the north end was the densest part of the protest, where drummers were keeping the energy and the spirits higher. All the chants were of the very short call and answer variety, such as "Canada - Break the silence" "Must stop - Genocide" "Our Leader - Prabhakaran" "Tamil Timers - Freedom fighters" "Obama - Free the Tamils" "Rajapakse - War criminal" and more stuff about Tamils and Tamil Eelam. You can guess which slogans I was selective in responding to.
The cops have moved the protesters away from the south-bound lane this morning, as University has three hospitals and the avenue is a major access point. There was one row of about 6 cops on horseback at one end of the protest, and other pods of 4-5 cops are various ends of the protest. In spite of huge aggravation from drivers, the cops are not moving the protest out, as it is legal and non-violent.
I'm kind of conflicted about it, even if I went; it's quite clear that the Tigers are losing badly, with the SL Army claiming that they're boxed in an area of 10 square miles or so. If Prabhakaran is indeed there and needs to escape, a ceasefire is absolutely necessary for him right now. Personally, I think Tamils could do a lot better without the Tigers; at the "with us or against us" and "speaking with guns" game, you can rarely win against the state. The kind of absolute loyalty demanded of Tamils towards the Tigers belies the same kind of reductive view that made Tamils a persecuted minority in the first place. A poster was condemning the Sri Lankan Government and Indian, in particular the Congress Party, with a picture of Gandhi; while Congress has not been a particularly friendly with the Sri Lankan Tamils, I think they don't necessarily need to toss Gandhi with the rest of the bathwater. But then, what history do I know?
I was one of about 5 non-Tamils protesting. Where's everyone else? Although I don't think that the Tamils are particularly good at outreach or solidarity with other people. Not that many people want to see Tiger flags appear at their protests, either. This is all so insular. (No pun intended.)
I was asked many times to call the White House to ask the United States to get involved. I'm thinking of doing it and recording it to see how that works out.