Canadian Academics Demand Action in Sri Lanka

    TORONTO, May 5 /CNW/ - A group of academics, Canadian Academics for Tamil
Rights, is spearheading a campaign calling on the Government of Canada to help
end the bloody conflict in Sri Lanka. The group issued a statement sent to the
Prime Minister last week which attracted over 125 signatories from across
    In addition to leading academics from Canadian Universities, signatories
to the statement include NDP leader Jack Layton, Green Party leader Elizabeth
May, former Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, pianist Anton Kuerti, and
author Joy Kogawa.
    The statement notes that most independent observers estimate that close
to 50,000 Tamil civilians, many already displaced multiple times, are still
under siege in a tiny coastal strip in the north of Sri Lanka. Confirmed
reports indicate that more than 6,400 civilians, including 700 children, have
been killed since January 2009.
    The statement calls on the Federal Government of Canada to work with both
parties in the conflict to implement an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire,
and urge the international community and the UN to take responsibility for the
protection of Tamil civilians.
    "The largest Tamil diaspora outside of Sri Lanka is in Canada," states
Professor Aiken, Professor of Law at Queen's University and a member of the
group. "The fact that so many Canadian Tamils are continuing to lose family
members and friends in the ongoing crisis is what prompted us as concerned
Canadian academics to stand in solidarity with them."
    Ryerson University Sociology Professor Alan Sears, another member of the
group, says: "We have a responsibility to act in the face of the humanitarian
and human rights catastrophe confronting the Tamil population of Sri Lanka.
The level of mobilizations among Tamils in Toronto has been truly impressive,
and they are asking for our solidarity so they do not feel they are facing
this crisis alone."
    A Press Conference will be held to address why the group has initiated
this solidarity campaign, and why Canada needs to act urgently to help end the
conflict in Sri Lanka.

           Date:       Wednesday, 6 May 2009
           Time:       9.30 am - 12 pm
           Venue:      Courtyard Marriot Toronto Hotel, Bay Room
                       475 Yonge Street

    A full text of the statement and a complete list of signatories will be

For further information:

For further information: Prof Sharryn Aiken, (416) 597-0918; Professor
R. Cheran, (416) 529-0379

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