Prominent voices call for Sri Lankan peace

    Canadian politicians and human rights champions discuss
    devastating humanitarian crisis in North and East of Sri Lanka

    TORONTO, April 3 /CNW/ - In the face of escalating violence, a lack of
humanitarian aid, and mounting civilian casualties in Sri Lanka has brought
together prominent Canadian politicians, human rights advocates and over 250
interested people at the Human Rights and Sri Lanka Conference. At the event,
organized by the Canadian Human Rights Voice, participants were alarmed by the
recent ever escalating violence in which tens of thousands of civilians have
been affected. Due to Sri Lankan government forces military assault, according
to UN thousands of civilians have been killed or injured in 2009.
    "The civilian population in Sri Lanka has no voice. The voiceless need a
voice. We call on our Canadian government to push for immediate ceasefire and
to help broker peace in war-torn Sri Lanka, as well as to continue to deliver
humanitarian aid directly to the affected," said event organizer Babu
Nagalingam. "Today we have found support from politicians and advocates in the
human rights field who are deeply concerned about the plight of 250,000
civilians who remain seriously affected by the continuous indiscriminate
aerial and artillery bombing."
    Speakers at the event include Hon. Bob Rae, Hon. Jack Layton, Hon. Bill
Graham, Grand Council Chief Beaucage, Ontario Commissioner for Human Rights
Barbara Hall, and a video address by Justin Trudeau.
    "More could be done by the international community to help solve the
devastating humanitarian crisis taking place in North and East of Sri Lanka",
said Hon. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. "An
immediate ceasefire is necessary so that humanitarian workers can help the
severely affected population."
    International call for an immediate ceasefire has grown over the last
three months, with the chorus now including: the government of Canada, U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Since 1983, more than one
million Tamils have been displaced by the conflict outside of Sri Lanka and
another 500,000 are internally displaced.
    "We need a strong international will and commitment to find the
reasonable resolution to end the conflict and violence," said Hon. Bob Rae,
Foreign Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition. "The Sri Lankan government
must also be pressured to allow media freedom so the world understands the
truth and the present reality in the Island. Democracy is meaningless without
free, independent journalism."
    Others in attendance will include Paul Calandra (MP, Oak Ridges
-Markham), Gerard Kennedy (MP Parkdale - High Park), and the academic experts
on the Sri Lankan affairs. Attendee organizations include Amnesty
International, the World Sikh Organization, Reporters sans frontières, the
Committee to Protect Journalists, Egale Canada, and leaders of the Sri Lankan

    About The Human Rights and Sri Lanka Conference:

    The Human Rights and Sri Lanka Conference is organized by Canadian Human
Rights Voice (CHRV). CHRV is a not-for-profit, non-governmental, independent
human rights committee comprised of Canadian University Graduates. Our primary
objective of the conference is to raise awareness of Human Rights violations
and to draw support from advocates in the Human Rights field. For more
information visit

For further information:

For further information: and media registration, please contact: Karl
Baldauf, Veritas Communications,, O: (416) 995-4574,
C: (416) 704-8733

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