TORONTO: Senior Canadian politicians, including MPs, joined Tamils in remembering the victims of the July 1983 riots in Sri Lanka – also referred to as Black July – at an exhibition at the Scarborough Civic Centre here on Thursday.
Tracy MacCharles, Ontario minister for consumer services, Craig Scott, MP for Toronto-Danforth, and John McKay, MP for Scarborough-Guildwood, joined Canadian Tamil Congress leaders and others from the Canadian Tamil community in watching the exhibition called Remembering Silent Voices.
The exhibition chronologically highlights what organizers calls `anti-Tamil pogroms’ since 1948. It brings back memories of the major riots against the Sri Lankan Tamils, beginning with the first major one in 1958 spread over many days.
The minister conveyed Premier Kathleen Wynne’s sympathies for the Tamil community.
A documentary on the anti-Tamil riots and the survivors was also shown on the occasion to highlight what the oraganizers said were “the government-sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms.’’
Prof Joseph Chandrakanthan and Kumar Ratnam, the two survivors of the 1983 Black July, shared their terrible experiences with the audience.
Prof Chandrakanthan, a reverend from Jaffna, was the among the first few persons to reach Columbo to see the aftermath of the Black July riots which ravaged the Sri Lankan capital and the entire southern island. He spoke about his harrowing experiences.
Kumar Ratnam, who was born in Columbo, narrated his first-hand experience of the riots and the trauma in the aftermath. The event was organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress.