On Saturday, May 26th the Human Rights Advocacy (HRA) council of the Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance (CTYA) launched the official website for Thazhambakam: Tamil Genocide during an event titled, The Macabre of the Silenced, in Toronto.
CTYA, a federally registered non-profit organization, is made up of a volunteer run executive council and board of directors. CTYA’s vision is “to empower Canadian Tamil youth to become outstanding leaders and citizens in our society.” CTYA has 5 councils: Arts and Culture, Athletics, Education and Career Development, Human Rights Advocacy, and Tamil National Development. Thazhambakam: Tamil Genocide Memorial Museum is an initiative led by the HRA council.
The website, www.tamilmuseum.com, consists of a timeline that documents Eelam Tamil history and the collective struggle for justice.
The event took place at the Jess Gorlicky Designs Art Gallery and featured several Tamil diaspora artists, including Arani Nadesan, Keera Ratnam, and Sindu Sivayogam.
Artwork by Sindu Sivayogam (IG: @murukku)
The event included guest presentations by Dharsha Jegatheeswaran the Research Director of the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research and Tasha Manoranjan the Executive Director of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL).
Dharsha Jegatheswaran, Research Director, Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research
Ms. Jegatheeswaran highlighted the militarization and securitization of the North-East and the continued resistance and strength demonstrated by the Eelam Tamil population post-2009 in her presentation.
“The physical presence of the military is very much felt by everyone there…we look at the militarization problem and I think a lot of us in the diaspora can see why that’s problematic. We can see why having such a militarized zone in the North-East is extremely problematic, particularly with a military that stands accused of horrific war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity. But what we sometimes don’t talk about, that we need to discuss more is what impact it’s having on the Tamil community there, on a sense of Tamilness and on the sense of the Tamil Nation.”
Referencing PEARL’s most recent report, Denied or Delayed: Sri Lanka’s Failing Transitional Justice Process, Ms. Manoranjan spoke about the Tamil struggle for justice and accountability.
“Our audience here is not the Tamil community. The Tamil community knows that justice is not going to be given by the Sri Lankan government. Justice needs to come from the international community. But the international community has been very willing to listen to Sri Lanka’s empty promises and empty rhetoric but is unwilling to confront Sri Lanka’s actual actions on these issues.”
The guest presentations were followed by a screening of 47 Roots’ documentary “Sri Lanka’s Disappeared.”
In her concluding remarks the President of CTYA, Thivya Shanthakumar, outlined the importance of having a physical space for a Tamil Genocide Museum.
“In 2013 CTYA started the Thazhumbakam Tamil Genocide Memorial Mobile Museum with paintings which portrays the genocide and the hardships our people had faced.
The goal isn’t just to continue hosting mobile exhibits, but to one day have a physical space where we can display our artwork and other important artefacts.
Imagine that one day our future generation, our kids will be able to walk into a Tamil Genocide Memorial museum and be able to teach the wider community about our history and the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. History is important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows to understand our present. Our history is an important aspect of our Tamil identity, and we must be able to teach our story to the future generation before someone else does.”=
Macabre of the Silenced event organizers, guest presenters and artists.