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Canadian politicians join Tamils in marking Black July 1983

In statements published on Tuesday, thirty years on from the anti-Tamil pogrom of 'Black July' in 1983, Canadian MPs and politicians remembered the horrors of what took place along side Tamils in Canada.

Employment and Social Development Minister of the Federal Party, Jason Kenney said,

“Thirty years ago today in Sri Lanka, violent mobs of armed extremists began carrying out attacks against the country’s Tamil population. Hundreds of Tamils were killed and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed in the ensuing riots."

“In the years since the Black July pogrom, July 23 has become a day of mourning and remembrance for members of Sri Lankan Tamil communities around the world, including the 200,000-strong Tamil community in Canada."

"As we reflect on the violence that began on this day in 1983 across Sri Lanka, I take the opportunity to reaffirm Canada’s commitment to promote and uphold our fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.’’

“I stand with the Tamil-Canadian community in commemorating the senseless destruction and tragic loss of life during Black July.”

NDP MP for Scarborough-Rouge River, Rathika Sitsabaiesan said:

"It is with deep sadness that we mark the 30th anniversary of Black July. On July 23, 1983 hundreds of Tamils were killed and thousands more were displaced as their homes and businesses were destroyed."

"The repercussions of these brutal actions and heartbreaking loss can still be felt by Tamils living in Sri Lanka as well as the Tamil diaspora."

"New Democrats remain concerned about the treatment of minority communities in Sri Lanka. As we remember July 23, 1983, we pledge to continue defending the interests of Tamil Canadians in the House of Commons."

"We also urge the Canadian government to take firm diplomatic action and boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka this November.  Canada must take a principled stance regarding the Sri Lankan government’s continued human rights abuses and refusal to conduct an independent investigation of war crimes allegations. Lest we forget."

The opposition Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau, said:

“Today, we solemnly remember the terrible events and attacks thirty years ago that were directed at Tamils beginning on July 23, 1983. Divisions gave way to racially-targeted riots that saw countless people attacked, killed, and rendered homeless, and resulted in the widespread destruction of property"

“Across our country, Tamil Canadians mourn and remember the many murders of Black July, but also the thousands of deaths that ensued in the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war, of which we still lack closure to this day. We must achieve accountability and justice for the untold innocents who died or had their lives irrevocably changed."

“To date, no serious effort has been made by the Sri Lankan government to reconcile with all actors in Sri Lankan society. There is little clarity or resolution after the end of the civil war. Ethnic and religious discrimination is growing, not decreasing."

“After the events of 1983, Canada welcomed those Tamils seeking asylum, and we continue to accept refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka. Today, Canada’s voice must be clearly heard insisting for truth, reconciliation, and an independent and transparent international investigation of alleged war crimes during the Sri Lankan civil war.”

Mayor for Brampton, Susan Fennell

“On behalf of the people of Brampton, I join with our City’s Tamil community to mourn the violence committed against Sri Lankan Tamil families during the atrocities of Black July in 1983. This year marks the 30th anniversary of when innocent lives were lost, businesses were shut down and property was destroyed."

“Since then, thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils have settled in communities across Canada, including Brampton, to embrace our unwavering values of peace, order and good government, among so many other enshrined Canadian rights."

“Today Brampton has an active, engaged, and vibrant Tamil community. And it is here in our City that people of all backgrounds are free to raise a family, earn a good education, secure a job, start a business and worship freely.”

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