Canadian University Tamil Students' Associations held country-wide awareness campaigns on 4th December, about the arrest of Jaffna university students who took part in remembrance day events, to coincide with protest in Jaffna and across Europe. Uniting with student groups and unions, the students made three key demands: release the four arrested students, cease all forms of intimidation and violence against Tamil students, and end the occupation of Jaffna University, and immediately cease all form of oppressive and genocidal state and military operations in the Tamil homeland.
York University Tamil Students' Association
The York University Tamil Students' Association worked with students at Students against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), United South Asians at York (USAY), Indian Cultural Association (ICA) and York University Malayalees’ Students Association (YUMSA), Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and the Middle Eastern Students’ Association to hold an awareness campaign called the Circle of Solidarity.
Following a moment of silence, students chanted slogans such as “Free Jaffna Students”, “What do we want justice when do we want it now”, “attack on one student is attack on all students” and “Genocide is a crime, Oppression is a crime”, around the campus.
Mithilen Mathipalan, the President of the Tamil Students' Association at York University said,
"This is not the end but a start of what will follow, if the students are not released immediately this will grow bigger and we will ensure the world hears us…This time louder than before”.
Helen Poruthur from the Indian Cultural Association said,
“YUMSA and ICA recognises the long systematic and continuous oppression of the Tamil people in the island and will stand along the Tamil community in solidarity with Justice, equity and independence.”
She ended her speech saying, Thamilarin Thaagam Thamil Eela Thaayagam.
University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Tamil Students’ Association
Students at the Tamil Students’ Association at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus held a solidarity rally along with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, which represents over 11 000 students, as well as Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine.
The president of the UTSC TSA, L Baskanthan, said:
“It is really important that we are all here today, and that we’re showing solidarity with the students of Jaffna University. For those of you who don’t know, all over the world, students are standing up in solidarity with them… What is really important to see is that now we see the uprising of students from within the country… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, justice will only be served when we achieve Tamil Eelam.”
Carlton University Tamil Students' Association and the University of Ottawa
Following on from a joint march in protest on 28th Novermber, against the intimidation of Jaffna students on remembrance day, students at Ottawa University, handed out pamphlets around the campus to raise awareness of the situation in the North-East.
In a series of video clips, students asked fellow students across the university on their thoughts and comments.
Ryerson University Tamil Students’ Association
Ryerson Tamil Students' Association (RyeTSA) held an awareness campaign across downtown, handing out leaflets, and displaying posters expressing their condemnation of the arrests of students, and their demands for the release of those arrested, as well as demilitarisation of the university.
University of Toronto St. George Tamil Students’ Association
Students at the University of Toronto St. George Tamil Students’ Association (UTSG TSA) joined forces with the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), to stand in solidarity with Jaffna university students through an awareness campaign.
The event kicked off with a discussion session, to increase understanding and knowledge of ground realities amongst all students, as well as draw connections between Maaveerar Naal, and the Canadian Remembrance Day.
UTSG president, Gowthaman Kurusamy said:
“People were shocked that the violation of basic rights was happening to university students in Sri Lanka. They wanted more information as well as ways of how they could help.”