Canadian Tamil Congress

Canadian Tamil Congress

February 22, 2007 11:07 ET

Sri Lanka's Ceasefire in Tatters on its Fifth Anniversary

Canada’s Tamils Urge Harper Government to Halt Foreign Aid to Sri Lanka

Attention: News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 22, 2007) - Today marks the five-year anniversary of the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka. Under the terms of the Norwegian-brokered accord, both parties pledged to refrain from engaging in any offensive military operations.

The ceasefire appears to remain only in name, however, as 2006 was marred by a bloody upsurge in violence throughout the island. The end result: over 3000 (mostly Tamil) civilian deaths and close to 250,000 internally displaced people, notes David Poopalapillai, Spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress.

"The very idea of a Sri Lankan ceasefire under present circumstances is a farce," added Poopalapillai. "Tamil civilian areas in the north and east of the country are being bombarded every day by indiscriminate shelling and bombing campaigns."

For over 30 years, Tamils have been struggling for the creation of an independent state in Sri Lanka's north and east. Over 70,000 civilians have died throughout the conflict and no end to the violence appears likely.

"The Sri Lankan government placates the international community by signing peace accords and pledging to strive for peace, but before the ink even dries on these documents, they're ordering air strikes and encouraging unthinkable human rights abuses," Poopalapillai explained.

"If good governments like Canada's want to see an end to fighting in Sri Lanka, they must halt the flow of foreign aid there. So long as it receives generous foreign aid contributions, the Government of Sri Lanka will continue to pay lip service to peace while it supports the torture of innocent civilian populations."

Poopalapillai further criticized the Government of Sri Lanka for its continued blockade of Tamil-populated regions in the country's north and east. Government interference has prevented food, medicine and aid packages from reaching some of the areas that were hit hardest by the 2004 tsunami.

"The only reason the Tamil side has agreed to a ceasefire for so long is that the international community has repeatedly pledged its support to help achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. The onus is on countries like Canada now to help and make good on their promises," added Poopalapillai.

The Canadian Tamil Congress will be holding a press conference in light of the ceasefire's anniversary next Monday, February 26. The event, which is taking place at 10:30 AM in Parliament Hill's Centre Block, Room 130-S, will explore the present status of the ceasefire and chart out a plausible course of action for Canada and the international community to take on this matter.

Contact Information

  • Julian Francis, Ottawa Area Coordinator, Canadian Tamil Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-789-9371