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Canadian Conservative candidate vows to delist LTTE

Canadian Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown has pledged to delist the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organisation if elected to the post, whilst vowing to acknowledge Canada’s historic failure to support Tamil refugees.

“We need a public apology," Brown, the current mayor of Brampton, told Tamil constituents. "It’s horrible how Tamils were stereotyped. And rather than it being a symbol of terrorism, the tiger is a symbol of self-defence against the government committing war crimes."

Brown went on to state that the label has been used to slur and defame activists, including when he has spoken out on Sri Lanka’s genocide of Tamils.

“The Sri Lankan High Commission tells people that I’m LTTE,” he said. “Literally, the high commission.”

“So I’m going to lift the ban. I’m going to cancel the ban. I’m going to give a public apology. I firmly believe that those who are defending loved ones in Sri Lanka against a government that was committing a genocide — it was acts of self-defence against a Sri Lankan government that was acting in a manner that was a modern atrocity. Egregious. War criminals.”

The LTTE remains listed in several countries around the world, despite having been militarily defeated in 2009. Efforts have been made in the Europe, including in Britain, to de-list the group in recent years. In October 2020, a British commission ruled that the decision to ban on the LTTE was "flawed", and though the UK subsequently continued to maintain its ban the moved raised questions from British Tamils across the country.

Canadian Tamils at a 2012 rally in Toronto.

Brown's comments mark the first public pledge by a Canadian politician to lift the ban. “You won’t hear any other politician speaking that frankly,” he claimed.

He went on state that if elected, he would support Tamil asylum seekers fleeing Sri Lanka, telling the audience “I want to reunite as many Tamil families as possible immediately”.

“And so my goal is to make sure every Tamil family that wants to be reunited, and any Tamil family that wants to come to Canada as part of this apology, we’re going to welcome with open arms and say, ‘Sorry (for) what you had to go through.’”

The Star reported that Brown doubled down on his commitments, telling the paper “Canada and the global community took the wrong side in the Tamil genocide”.

His pledges were welcomed by Tamil Canadian activists, who called on other political leaders across Canada to make similar vows.

“The listing of the LTTE has been used to stigmatize the Tamil Canadians and criminalise our liberation struggle for years,” a Tamil Canadian activist told the Tamil Guardian. 

“The pledge to delist the LTTE is a significant one that shows the legitimacy of our liberation struggle and we call on other candidates to follow suit.”

“Canada has an opportunity to right the wrongs of its past in this election,” the activist added. “I hope the other candidates do.”

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