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Tamils rally for self-determination

James Clark

November 20, 2011

Thousands of Tamils and their supporters filled the south lawn of Queen’s Park on October 29 to rally for Tamil freedom and self-determination.

Over two years have passed since the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war. While Tamils continue to seek justice for war crimes committed by the government of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, they have not abandoned their struggle for a national homeland.

As a result of ongoing mobilizations since the war ended in May 2009, the Tamil community has dramatically raised public awareness about its experience in Sri Lanka. Governments around the world, including Canada’s, have begun to acknowledge the scale of Sri Lanka’s war crimes, with a growing number of MPs now calling for an international war crimes tribunal. What Tamils knew to be the case in 2009 is now more widely accepted in the media and the public.

But raising awareness about the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka is just one part of the bigger struggle for freedom and independence. The rally on October 29 heard from Tamil and non-Tamil speakers alike who emphasized the right of all oppressed nations to self-determination, and who condemned the Sri Lankan government’s ethnic cleansing of Tamil regions.

Allies from the labour, student, peace and social justice movements all expressed solidarity for the struggle, and committed to building support outside the Tamil community. The rally was organized by the National Council of Canadian Tamils, which was recently elected to the pan-Canadian leadership of the Canadian Peace Alliance at its convention in Toronto in mid-October.

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