ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 23 F
Posted on September 8th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

In 2019 a Private Member’s Bill (Bill no104) titled An Act to Proclaim Tamil Genocide Education Week was placed before Ontario Legislative Assembly, Canada   by Vijay Thanigasalam, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park. Vijay Thanigasalam is a LTTE supporter.  The move had been facilitated by the Committee on Regulations and Private Bills coming under the purview of Logan Kanapathi also of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. The Bill claimed that 146,679 were killed in the final days of the Eelam War that civilians were starved and Tamil children were forcibly taken away from their homes.

The progress of this Bill was closely watched by the anti-Eelamists in Canada.  Several Sri Lankan organizations strongly opposed the Bill. Submissions were made in writing to the Standing Committee on regulations and Private Bills. 

The Bill stalled at the second reading, Only 59 supported it. 66 either refrained from voting or said ‘No.’ The Bill was then referred back to the relevant committee for want of required support.  In the meantime anti-Sri Lanka resolutions were passed in Brampton, Pickering and Toronto Municipal Councils, though the matter was outside local politics.

On May 6, 2021   Ontario Legislative Assembly, Canada, voted in favor of the Bill. It was carried through without a vote taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic which had restricted the participation of the majority of members. Vijay Thanigasalam declared the passage of the Bill ‘a historic event for Tamil people in Ontario and across the world.  Ontario is the first government worldwide to pass such a law.”

The newly passed Tamil Genocide Education Week Act establishes a week each year, May 11 to 18, during which Ontarians are encouraged to educate themselves about, and to maintain their awareness of, the Tamil genocide and other genocides that have occurred in world history. However, the Bill would not become law until Ontario Lieutenant Governor General gave her consent on behalf of the Canadian Government.

Analysts saw this Ontario move as very   significant. This Bill is an attempt to legitimize the claim that a Tamil Genocide happened in Sri Lanka. Such projects intended to legitimize war crimes accusations, should be nipped in the bud, they said.

Canada-based Dr. Chandre Dharmawardana said that the move in the Ontario Legislative Assembly was a prelude to the Diaspora grouping seeking to move a similar Bill in the Canadian Parliament. The provincial move couldn’t be dismissed lightly.  He appreciated the fact that the government of Sri Lanka took up the issue with both Federal and Provincial authorities of Canada.

It would be a serious mistake, on Sri Lanka’s part, to consider the genocide rap as a project of the Ontario Legislative Assembly instead of a Canadian move. The Canadian move is severely inimical to Sri Lanka. The Ontario project would further strengthen the Geneva-led campaign meant to weaken Sri Lanka, said Shamindra Ferdinando. The Geneva onslaught will take a new turn with this Genocide charge.

Sri Lanka acted promptly. The Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa protested.  In Colombo, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena   conveyed Sri Lanka’s deep concern to Canadian High Commissioner.. Canadian High Commission in Colombo responded.”It is important to recognize the high degree of autonomy of the federal governments of the provinces in Canada, including on issues such as this one.

Anti Eelamists in Canada also responded.  Neville Hewage,  went to Supreme Court against the Act. He said that Ontario Legislative Assembly did not have the jurisdiction to pass Bill 104  and the facts presented in Bill 104 were completely false.

Mahinda Gunasekera sent an open letter to. Prime Minister, Ministers, Premier of Ontario, Members of the Federal Parliament/ Ontario Legislature and GTA Mayors on the matter   It was titled On the Impact of Ontario’s Bill 104, Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, 2021 and GTA ( Greater Toronto Area)Mayoral Proclamation of Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on May 18th..

He pointed out that Eelam war IV was a civil war not a genocidal one and its was initiated by the LTTE not the government, that the UN has not declared the Eelam war to be genocidal and that the Ontario Provincial Legislature does not have the authority to determine Genocide.

The Ontario Centre for Policy Research organized a webinar on LTTE Terrorism and Alleged Tamil Genocide in June 2020 to discuss the Ontario Bill. The panel consisted of Neville Hewage, Sarath Chandrasekara and Chandre Dharmawardana.

On June 3 2021, the anti-Eelamists in Canada issued a joint statement. We are pleased to announce that the following Sri Lankan-Canadian organizations have joined as a united front to fight a Superior court case against the Ontario law on Tamil Genocide Education Week, Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition (SLCAC) Canadian Sri Lankan Center for Social Harmony (CSLCSH) Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada (SLUNA) and Sri Lanka Canada Association of Brampton (SLCAB). A 12-member steering committee will address aspects of the proceedings and fundraising campaigns, we hope to draw attention to the misinformation contained in the Act, and see that Tamil Genocide Education Week Act is repealed, this group said.

On the 2nd of October 2020 Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough tabled a petition in the Canadian Parliament.  He wanted Sri Lanka taken before the Committee established under the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances. He said, inter alia, that genocide in Sri Lanka is unique among genocides in history because it has occurred over several decades and under different governments before intensifying into a no- holds-barred war for nearly three decades and culminating in the mass atrocities of 2009. Sri Lanka’s historic violations against Tamils, such as 1958 and 1983, in addition to the 2009 war must go before an international court.

Canada said that it could not comply since it was not a member of CED. Full response from the Government of Canada can be found at: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=432-00052. Neville Hewage submitted a 619 page rebuttal against the petition. His full rebuttal can be found at: https://policy-research.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/01-Neville_Hewage_Report_432-00052_V3.pdf  (continued)

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