Tamil Canadians Call for International Action on Sri Lanka



    TORONTO, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - Tamil Canadians from coast to coast are united
in our calls for peace and justice in our homeland. Over the past several
weeks, tens of thousands of Tamil Canadians have gathered in public places to
create awareness of the devastating humanitarian crisis taking place in the
North and East of Sri Lanka and to call upon the Canadian government to urge
the Sri Lankan government to ensure an immediate ceasefire. Canada has joined
the chorus of international voices, including U.S. Secretary of State Hilary
Clinton, U.K. Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and United Nations Secretary
General, Ban Ki-Moon, urging for an immediate ceasefire. Despite these
international pleas, the Sri Lankan government is relentlessly pursuing an
aggressive military campaign against the Tamil people.
    "For far too long, the Sri Lankan government has operated with impunity,
violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law,
resulting in untold loss of lives, separation of families and psychological
and mental suffering for the Tamil population," stated David Poopalapillai,
National Spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress. "Not since the genocide
in Rwanda, have we seen a government inflict such atrocities on its own
people. Clearly it is time for international action to prevent the Sri Lankan
conflict from escalating any further and more innocent lives being lost."
    International agencies such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have condemned
violations of humanitarian law committed during the past several weeks. "The
humanitarian situation in northeastern Sri Lanka is beyond catastrophic at
this juncture," says Dr. Vadivelu Santhakumar, President of the Canadian
Medical Dental Development Association which represents over 100 medical
professionals serving Canadians coast to coast. "Hundreds of thousands of
people are trapped in the conflict zone without access to humanitarian aid.
Medical workers have been forced to leave, and the only working hospital in
the conflict zone was forced to evacuate because of persistent shelling."
    The conflict in Sri Lanka may be taking place thousands of kilometers
away, but it has a very real and direct impact on Tamil Canadians. "These are
our loved ones, our families, our friends who are forced to live under
inhumane conditions of war." says Dr. Meera Selvakone, from the Canadian Tamil
Congress. "We are the lucky ones who escaped the conflict and were welcomed
with open arms into Canada. As we hear the news of death and destruction in
our homeland, we can't help being affected by these images."
    The Canadian Tamil Congress will be holding a press conference on Friday
February 13, 2009 to set out an urgent international call for action on Sri
Lanka.

    
    Date:     Friday, February 13th, 2009

    Time:     11:00 am - 12:00 noon

    Venue:    Ramada Plaza Toronto - Essex Lounge
              300 Jarvis Street, Toronto
    





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

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