Tamil Canadians disturbed by carnage in northeast Sri Lanka


    TORONTO, April 21 /CNW/ - Tamil Canadians woke Monday morning to the
shock and horror of news that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces penetrated the so
called "safety zone" and massacred over a thousand civilians. Eye witness
reports state that hundreds of dead bodies remain scattered in the area. The
Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) also issued an ultimatum to the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to surrender within 24 hours or have it continue
its military campaign further into the "safety zone".
    "The massacre of thousands of civilians is happening because Western
governments have failed to take strong measures against the Government of Sri
Lanka," said David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil
Congress. "Our fear is that without immediate and strong action the Government
of Sri Lanka will continue its carnage against innocent Tamil civilians."
    The Sri Lankan Defense Ministry is reporting that thousands of civilians
have left the conflict zone for the "safety zone". Given past reports by
international media on cluster bombing and the use of chemical weapons by the
Sri Lankan government within the "safety zone", and today's carnage, Tamil
Canadians are deeply concerned about the plight of Tamil civilians. These
civilians are forced into crowded internment camps for an indefinite period,
from which they are barred from leaving and media prevented from entering. The
use of cluster bombs and chemical weapons are violations of international
humanitarian law, and are considered war crimes.
    "The human suffering has reached unprecedented levels in the Northeast of
Sri Lanka," says Mr. Poopalapillai. "The situation in Sri Lanka is beyond
statements and words. What is needed now is strong and immediate action."
    The Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the April 16 statement of the U.S.
government calling for an end to hostilities and urging the GoSL to pursue a
long-term solution to the conflict. The U.S. Government has also threatened to
block Sri Lanka's bid for a $1.9 billion emergency loan from the International
Monetary Fund. The GoSL has categorically rejected any conditions being placed
on the emergency loan. Sri Lanka is in a dire economic position as much of its
national revenue is diverted towards war efforts.
    The Canadian Tamil Congress once again implores the Canadian government
to take swift and decisive action against the GoSL. Canada should immediately
impose strong economic measures on Sri Lanka, such as international aid
restrictions and trade sanctions until the GoSL ceases hostilities against the
Tamils. Canada must compel the GoSL to negotiate a political settlement to the
conflict that respects the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people.




For further information: Canadian Tamil Congress, (416) 240-0078