TORONTO: Citing a recent piece in the local National Post about a defected Sri Lankan soldier exposing atrocities committed by Sri Lankan forces during the last stages of the ethnic war, the Toronto-based Canadian Tamil Congress has said that Colombo is not serious about addressing Tamil grievances.
In a statement, the CTC said the Sri Lankan soldier’s story comes just after the release of a highly critical UN internal report in Nov which blamed the UN for not preventing the mass atrocities that took place in Sri Lanka. According to the report, the death toll in the final stages of the war could be as high as 70,000.
The CTC also cited the recent visit by “two individuals for their work in documenting and broadcasting the stories of people who have suffered first-hand as a result of the tragic war in Sri Lanka. Former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison’s book “Still Counting the Dead” is about shocking and heart wrenching stories she personally gathered from survivors of the war. Norwegian filmmaker Beate Arnestad’s film entitled “Silenced Voices” has vividly captured the stories of three journalists who are now living in exile in Europe after fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka. The movie was successfully screened in Toronto during the third week of November.”
It also alleged police highhandedness against Tamil students in Sri Lanka’s northern parts, saying that students from Jaffna University were forced to go on a two-day boycott of classes recently after clashes with police after cops entered student hostels and threatened them with firearms.
Alleging that some students have been arrested for the protest, the CTC said it “remains deeply concerned about the students who do not feel safe after several were beaten and injured in what can be described as the worst political disturbance since the civil war ended in 2009. Furthermore, recent moves to impeach the Chief Justice and intimidation of the judiciary by the Sri Lankan Government has further eroded all Sri Lankans’ confidence in judicial independence. We call upon the international community to take action to safeguard these students.”
The CTC called upon Canada, the United Nations and its member states to convene an International Independent Investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s war.