Emotions run high at Sri Lanka related townhall

    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - A forum was organized by South Asians for Human
Rights Association (SAHRA) on Friday Feb. 20th, 2009, at Markham City Hall, to
create a dialogue between the Government of Canada and the Tamil Diaspora
directly affected by the atrocities suffered by 250,000 civilians stuck amidst
cross-fire in the Northern Vanni region of Sri Lanka.
    The meeting was attended by respected and prominent Conservative
politicians, Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and
Multiculturalism, Oakridges-Markham Conservative MP Paul Calandra and
Candidate of Record Chuck Konkel with over 80 Community leaders and
constituents, and was moderated by SAHRA chair Roger Nair as the neutral
    In the spirit of core Canadian values - human rights, rule of law,
democracy and freedom - Canada has listened and responded to the concerns of
Sri Lanka through parliamentary statements and a commitment to financial aid,
but wanted to continue their action through further engagement with the
    A roundtable with Hon. Jason Kenney took place at the Ministers Regional
Office, Toronto, to address the civilian and humanitarian situation in Sri
Lanka with various Sri-Lankan-Tamil community leaders and SAHRA
representatives Mr. Shan Padda Esq. and Roger Nair Esq.. The need for civilian
evacuation, medical aid and human rights in the war-torn region was discussed.
    The Minister, promised to look into the matter immediately, and consult
with cabinet colleagues/caucus members in Ottawa. He expressed sincere,
personal concerns that Tamil-Canadians from all walks of life were being
painted and branded with the same broad brush as Tamil-Tiger suspects.
    "We feel very concerned that certain undertones have been pinned onto the
local Tamil-Canadian community, and that was surely not our intention." Hon.
Minister Jason Kenney told the crowded room in his opening remarks. "Given the
escalation of violence in the region, we are committing an additional $1.5
million of aid on top of the $3 million already announced which will go
directly to the safety and security of the civilians through aid agencies such
as the UNHCR and Red Cross, and not through the government."
    A petition and a memorandum signed by numerous Tamil Canadians outlining
the problem and suggestions was presented to the Minister and MP Paul Calandra
which was subsequently read in the House of Commons on Monday Feb 23rd 2009.
    "The Conservative government is concerned about the civilian loss of life
caused by the civil conflict in Sri Lanka. We have twice issued a public
statement expressing our deep concerns and have spoken with the Sri Lankan
Minister of Foreign Affairs," said MP Paul Calandra. "It is important to speak
to those directly affected by this crisis. I wanted to hear how the local
community is dealing with the situation and to find out about what else I
could be doing," said Calandra who has a significant number of Tamil
constituents in his riding.
    "It is important for us as world citizens to pay attention and bring to
light any Human Rights violations that take place anywhere in the world. We
are deeply concerned about the mounting civilian loss of life and lack of
medical aid in the war torn region in Sri Lanka and urge both the warring
parties to commit to a immediate ceasefire so hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians can be evacuated" stated a press release issued by SAHRA.

    SAHRA (meaning "to lean on" in Hindi, Urdu or Punjabi) is a Human Rights
Organization that helps spread the knowledge of Human rights as outlined in UN
charter. SAHRA is dedicated to helping individuals and or group of individuals
whose human rights have been violated.

For further information:

For further information: (905) 677-7500, Shan Padda, SAHRA; (905)
294-0004, MP Paul Calandra

Organization Profile


More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890