Tamil Canadians demonstrate on the 10th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal genocide in Ottawa, 2019.
Canada's House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion recognising May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, in a landmark move making it the first parliament in the world to recognise the Tamil genocide.
The motion states that "this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day".
"Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day," tweeted Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, who brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal genocide.
"The motion passed today is the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy by so many members of the Tamil community. The genocide against innocent Tamil civilians on the island of Sri Lanka faces many human rights violations and an international community that seeks justice."
Today, the Canadian parliament unanimously passed a motion to recognize May 18th as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day.
On this very important day, Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day. pic.twitter.com/tfkwD2eAZl
— Gary Anandasangaree (@gary_srp) May 18, 2022
Tamil Canadians protest outside Parliament in Ottawa, 13 years ago.
Speaking at a press conference shortly after the motion was passed, Anandasangaree said “this a very historical day for the Tamil community, not just in Canada but around the world”.
“This motion today, a unanimous consent motion brought forward to the House, acknowledges the genocide of the Tamil people and recognises Tamil genocide Remembrance Day,” he continued. “It is the first recognition of its kind anywhere in the world.”
“But it doesn't stop there. In fact, the journey towards accountability is very long, and one that we need to double down on, on a day like this to ensure that those who perpetrated these crimes are held to account.”
Mark Holland, Member of Parliament for Ajax, spoke of the importance of acknowledging the genocide and “the exceptional pain that those families had to feel as their loved ones were indiscriminately shelled and killed”.
“The Parliament can say around the world that we see the horrors that happened there, that we demand that there be an accounting for those horrors, and that we make sure that truth, reconciliation and justice are the calls that we have.”
Abarana Selvarajah, spokesperson for People for Equality Relief and Action Lanka (PEARL), highlighted how the “very perpetrators of the genocide remain the leaders of the country, including Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa”.
“Today, the recognition of Tamil genocide is an important and welcome step,” she added. “And we hope this motion catalyses further political and legal and political actions and consequences for the perpetrators pursuant to Canada's obligations that this crime of all crimes must never go unpunished. It holds tremendous value for victims survivors to name the crime of genocide as they identify it.”
In Canada, five Ontario school boards marked the beginning of Tamil Genocide Education Week last week, the first year since the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act was passed into law.
Across the world today, Tamils are holding commemoration ceremonies to mark 13 years since the massacres of Mulliaivakkal, in which tens of thousands of Tamils were killed. The atrocities alongside the decades of violence and Sri Lankan state repression have for decades been deemed genocide by many Tamils.
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