Canada’s prime minister joined politicians across the aisle in commemorating the anniversary of Black July today, a week of anti-Tamil pogroms thirty-seven years ago that killed thousands of people across the island.
Canada shares an important history with Tamils, housing the largest fraction of Eelam Tamils outside of South Asia. Approximating 140,720 residents who identify as “Tamil” according to a census released by Statistics Canada in 2016.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued this statement, which reiterated calls for an accountability process "that has the trust and confidence of all victims". See the full statement below.
“Today, we remember the horrific events of Black July in Sri Lanka and honour the memory of its victims".
“In July 1983, anti-Tamil pogroms swept across Colombo, Sri Lanka, following decades of unrest and rising tensions in the country. Thousands of Tamils were killed and countless others were displaced. These riots sparked 26 years of armed conflict in which tens of thousands more lost their lives, devastating communities and leaving lasting physical and emotional wounds”.
“Canada responded by opening its arms to those fleeing violence and persecution in Sri Lanka. Through a Special Measures program introduced in the months following Black July, more than 1,800 Tamils resettled in Canada to rebuild their lives – and help build a better country. Their contributions in the face of tremendous loss and adversity helped shape a stronger, more inclusive Canada, which is now home to one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world”.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my deepest sympathies to all those who suffered and lost loved ones during Black July and the ensuing conflict. Canada remains committed to facilitating an accountability process that has the trust and confidence of all victims, which is central to achieving lasting peace and reconciliation. We continue to offer support to all those working toward these goals.”
Premier of Ontario and leader of the Ontario PC Party, Doug Ford, similarly tweeted:
Today I join Tamils in Ontario to solemnly remember the victims of the horrific events of #BlackJuly in 1983. These acts of violence and ensuing conflict in Sri Lanka caused immeasurable suffering to the Tamil community and I want all impacted to know our sympathies are with them
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) July 23, 2020
John Tory, the Mayor of Toronto, demonstrated his solidarity on Twitter as well, adding;
Today, I am proud to stand with members of the Tamil community of Toronto to commemorate #BlackJuly.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) July 23, 2020
The Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown, made his statement on Twitter;
Today is 37th anniversary of #BlackJuly. Over 5000 #Tamils were killed, & hundreds of women raped. Tamil businesses & homes were burnt & looted by rampaging mobs displacing over two hundred thousand. #Genocide #SriLanka @VijayThaniMPP @LoganKanapathi @gary_srp #WeRemember pic.twitter.com/uCqdPmxDJo
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) July 23, 2020
Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition, Andrea Horwath, stated on twitter:
Thirty-seven years ago today, hundreds of Tamils were killed and many more were displaced during the violent pogrom that took place in July 1983.
We must never forget Black July and the Tamil genocide. #BlackJuly pic.twitter.com/Qgnh7M3jVN
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) July 23, 2020
Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen said,
Today, we remember the thousands of Tamils that lost their lives during the horrific events of Black July in Sri Lanka. Let us honour their memory by standing up to injustice in Canada and around the world. https://t.co/pNJch1olSl
— Ahmed Hussen (@HonAhmedHussen) July 23, 2020
Business minister Mary Ng said,
The anniversary of Black July marks an incredible loss for Tamil-Canadians across; the importance of standing up for #justice & human rights around the. Months following the horrific events, Canada opened its arms to over 1,800 Tamils & our country has been better for it. https://t.co/BjK1EobR7q
— Mary Ng (@mary_ng) July 24, 2020
Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations tweeted:
For me and my family personally, and the entire Tamil community, #BlackJuly and the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 will for ever be etched in our memories.
— Gary Anandasangaree (@gary_srp) July 23, 2020
Gurratan Singh, a member of Ontario's legislative assembly representing Brampton East, tweeted:
We will never forget #BlackJuly & the Tamil genocide – we'll never stop fighting for justice. In Ontario, we have an opportunity to take a step forward.
— Gurratan Singh (@GurratanSingh) July 23, 2020
Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, posted the following statement on his Twitter account;
37 years ago, the state of Sri Lanka organized & executed the intentional series of anti-Tamil pogroms between July 23rd and 29th 1983 (also known as #BlackJuly). Over 3000 Tamils were brutally murdered & thousands of Tamil homes and businesses were intentionally destroyed. pic.twitter.com/iHtEpJR2NO
— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) July 23, 2020
MPP for Markham-Thornhill Logan Kanapathi tweeted,
Today is a solemn reminder of the horror and violence the Tamil people faced in 1983, on #BlackJuly. We still carry this pain to this day. Tamil Canadians will always remember today with a heavy heart and sorrow.
— Logan Kanapathi (@LoganKanapathi) July 24, 2020
Former minister of justice Peter Mackay tweeted,
We remember the events of #BlackJuly and the violence and death that was inflicted on Tamils in Sri Lanka. Canada welcomed Tamil refugees during this time with open arms. They have become great citizens and have contributed much to our country’s prosperity & cultural enrichment.
— Peter MacKay (@PeterMacKay) July 23, 2020