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On the 30th of August 2020, on International Day of the Disappeared, a dedicated group of Canadians will embark on a WALK FOR JUSTICE from Brampton City Hall to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.

They will walk a distance of 424 kilometers to submit a petition to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, hoping to reach their destination on Sunday the 13th of September. On Parliament Hill they will be welcomed by Ottawa’s Tamil community, members of the media, politicians and human rights activists. The petition from Mr. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) seeks Canada’s commitment to combating enforced disappearances across the globe.

eelam remembranceThe petition to Mr. Trudeau, (the petition) reiterates the stated objective of the United Nations in recognizing the 30th of August, as ‘International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – the objective being that of, “building an international coalition against authoritarian and genocidal states and governments that use enforced disappearances to brutally violate the right to life and suppress democratic voices of dissent.” In doing so, the petition reminds Mr. Trudeau how, “once taken by state officials, without any legal protection, victims are likely to experience torture and death.”

Reflecting on, “the Eelam Tamil diaspora’s deep concern for this issue,” the petition draws Mr. Trudeau’s attention and all concerned to the fact that this, “injustice and international crime continues across the world with intolerable impunity.” The petition reiterates that “for impunity to end, Canada and the international community must direct its focus on changing international law to remove sovereign immunity as a defence for International crimes, a convenient cover used by deviant states.”

“We are still losing people today to enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey and several Latin American countries. Many countries are still grieving the lack of access to justice and restitution for thousands of loved ones who will likely never be seen alive again.  Argentina grieves more than 30,000, Syria at least 82,000 and Sri Lanka, according to Amnesty International, between 60,000 and 100,000. These lives must be honored with accountability and change in international law,” the petition asserts.

Declaring that enforced disappearances have not just been a means of repression, but, “as a tool of Tamil genocide,” the petition lays out the reason why Eelam Tamils need Mr. Trudeau’s support:

“Too many oppressive governments fake an appearance respecting international human rights norms to keep the international community at bay while behind the scenes they tear down democratic ideals and respect for the rule of law, as is the case of genocidal governments like Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s disgraceful association with disappearance is well known.  In fact, Sri Lankan government and paramilitary agencies abducting people in white vans led to the term “white vanning” becoming synonymous with enforced disappearances. Sri Lanka has the dubious honor of being named the state with the second (the first being Iraq) the largest number of disappearance cases communicated by the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to the government for action,” the petition points out.

Furthermore, “although Sri Lanka established an Office of Missing Persons to ostensibly put on record a database of missing persons, they have never even released a list of surrendered and arrested combatants taken during the armed conflict. Thousands of Tamil mothers have protested this lack of action and accountability for years with many going to their graves uncertain of what happened to their own children. Although Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations’ Convention on Enforced Disappearance, it specifically abstained from supporting Article 31, which enables victims to speak on their own behalf to the Committee on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances about their country’s violations of this same convention. This is why Eelam Tamils, and all victims of enforced disappearances worldwide disempowered, need your support,” the petition implores.

Seeing Canada, as a “beacon of democracy and the rule of law with a long record of standing up for international human rights,” the petition recalls how Mr. Trudeau and Canada, has stood with victims of mass atrocities in June 2019 when Canada’s House of Commons passed a unanimous motion, “calling on the United Nations to establish an international, independent investigation into allegations of genocide committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

Canadians walking for justice for victims of enforced disappearances are determined, however long and difficult the journey would be, to deliver the petition they are carrying for Mr. Trudeau. They are seeking the support of the government and the people of Canada including the Canadian media to the worthy ideal of ending the horrendous crime of enforced disappearances and calling the perpetrators of this abhorrent practice to account.

As the authorities continue to commit this heinous crime with impunity, sadly there has been a miserable lack of accountability domestically and internationally – the reason why these Canadians undertook this long walk – theirs is a cry for justice on behalf of victims.

Bearing in mind that the Eelam Tamils in the homeland and in the diaspora look up to Canada as a reliable source of support and solace, those walking believe their efforts would persuade Canada, as the petition outlines, to offer, “continued leadership in the fight against grave breaches of international law, specifically against enforced disappearances.

With the families of the disappeared and their very real suffering - particularly the untold agony of not knowing the fate of their loved ones, very much in the forefront, these Canadians have undertaken this walk for justice as a sacred duty and are hopeful they will be successful in their mission.

Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam

Twitter: @TGTE_PMO
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.tgte-us.org

ABOUT THE TRANSNATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF TAMIL EELAM (TGTE)

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) is a democratically elected Government of over a million strong Tamils (from the island of Sri Lanka) living in several countries around the world.

TGTE was formed after the mass killing of Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government in 2009.

TGTE thrice held internationally supervised elections among Tamils around the world to elect 135 Members of Parliament. It has two chambers of Parliament: The House of Representatives and the Senate and also a Cabinet.

TGTE is leading a campaign to realize the political aspirations of Tamils through peaceful, democratic, and diplomatic means and its Constitution mandates that it should realize its political objectives only through peaceful means. It’s based on the principles of nationhood, homeland and self-determination.

TGTE seeks that the international community hold the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Tamil people to account. TGTE calls for a referendum to decide the political future of Tamils.

The Prime Minister of TGTE is Mr. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a New York based lawyer.

(This article was originally published in Fortnightly Magazine 'Abel', August 2020)


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