Responding to the protests at Jaffna University, Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs and several MPs have condemned the destruction of a Mullivaikkal memorial, commemorating the lives lost during the Tamil liberation struggle.
On Twitter, Canada's Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) has responded on twitter stating:
Heartbroken to hear of the destruction of the monument at #Jaffna University to Tamil civilians who died at #Mullivaikkal in 2009. Remembrance is crucial to understanding and moving toward reconciliation.
Canada’s Chief Government Whip, Mark Holland, has condemned the destruction as an attempt to erase “erase the memory of thousands of massacred Tamils”.
On Twitter he stated:
A Mullivaikkal memorial at #JaffnaUniversity was dismantled this weekend. We can never erase the memory of thousands of massacred Tamils from the world, and must never erase a genocide from global history. I condemn the actions taken and stand with the Tamil community.
— Mark Holland (@markhollandlib) January 11, 2021
Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party has similarly condemned the destruction of the monument as an "attempt to erase history".
Destruction of the #MullivaikkalMemorial is an attempt to erase history, and strip the Tamil community of their ability to mourn their losses. Ontario Liberals stand with leaders around the world condemning the appalling actions of those responsible. https://t.co/pEGUaCDZwI
— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) January 12, 2021
Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, Canada, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, has responded stating;
Tearing down memorial commemorating tens of thousands of Tamils killed in #Mullivaikkal is a despicable act by the #SriLankan govt. Justice & accountability must prevail to stop this vicious cycle of erasure & annihilation of Tamil identities experiences & history on the island https://t.co/AdGfSsuX3s
— Gary Anandasangaree (@gary_srp) January 8, 2021
Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton condemned the attempt by the university administration, which was instructed by the Sri Lankan government, describing it as a form of "structural genocide".
Destroying memorials of Tamils commemorating tens of thousands of Tamils killed in #Mullivaikkal is another form of stuctural genocide by #SriLanka. #Canada & the international community should act to stop this senseless destruction.@FP_Champagne @MichaelChongMP @JackHarrisNDP https://t.co/KwDVBNJ8Ym
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) January 8, 2021
Harkirat Singh, City Councillor for Brampton’s Wards 9 & 10, has also condemned the assault on the memorial stating:
This is extremely worrying, attempting to wipe away a people’s history is a part of Genocide. https://t.co/TsDktBki6L
— Harkirat Singh (@iHarkiratSingh) January 8, 2021
Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP for Scarborough-Rouge Park and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation, has similarly condemned the destruction of the monument stating:
I strongly condemn the decision by the Sri Lankan State to destroy Tamil Memorial inside Jaffna Uni. A monument that honours the hundreds of thousands of Tamil people who were massacred in 2009 by the Sri Lankan state, was being bulldozed by the Sri Lankan authorities today. pic.twitter.com/mW78xMInh7
— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) January 8, 2021
Gurratan Singh, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton East, condemned the destruction of the monument, highlighted the importance to show solidarity and called on other world leaders to come out and condemn the Sri Lankan states' actions:
Very worrying and a clear attempt to erase the brutal violence of the Tamil genocide. This destruction must be condemned by all leaders and we all must stand in defence of justice and human rights for the Tamil people. https://t.co/hZWmLOLMZB
— Gurratan Singh (@GurratanSingh) January 9, 2021
Martin Medeiros, City Councillor for Brampton’s Wards 3 & 4 and the Peel region, likened the incident to another form of genocide:
It is sad to learn through my friends in the #Tamil Community in #Brampton of the destruction of the Mullivaikkal memorial at #JaffnaUniversity. This is a form of #genocide wiping out the history of massacred Tamils. @Amal_xj @TamilGuardian https://t.co/1ELvzfwJU6
— Martin Medeiros #StayingHomeSavesLives (@medeiros_martin) January 9, 2021
Doly Begum, MPP Scarborough Southwest, criticised the attack stating:
I stand with the Tamil community & strongly condemn the destruction of the Mullivaikkal memorial.
Remember that denial and destruction of the memorial will not erase the history of genocide. We will continue to honour the hundreds of thousands of Tamil people who were massacred. https://t.co/0kA71OWq3r
— Doly Begum (@DolyBegum) January 9, 2021
Ruby Sahota, MP for Brampton North, strongly criticised the destruction of the memorial monument:
I strongly condemn the destruction of the #MullivaikkalMemorial at #JaffnaUniversity. Security forces are occupying the university while students hold a hunger strike demanding answers. The govt must not deny the #Tamil people's right to remember their dead and right to protest. https://t.co/29HSBC4Zyw
— Ruby Sahota (@rubysahotalib) January 11, 2021
Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga, has also issued a statement of solidarity with the protesters stating on Twitter:
Tonight I’m thinking of the thousands of Tamil Canadians across the GTA. I stand alongside them in condemning the destruction of the #MullivaikkalMemorial. Denying a people the right to remember their history and honour those they’ve lost is unjust and simply unacceptable.
Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and the official Opposition, criticised the destruction of the memorial monument and the erasure of the Tamil genocide:
I strongly condemn the destruction of the #MullivaikalMemorial and the blatant erasure of Tamil genocide.
The Tamil community has a right to mourn their lost ones, and pursue justice and accountability in this matter. https://t.co/1dv08QUPhP
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) January 10, 2021
John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, slammed the role of the Sri Lankan government in the destruction of the 'sacred' memorial monument:
Justice for the Tamil people does not mean destroying memorials. I have visited the sacred Mullivaikal site which saw the cruel loss of thousands of Tamils during the recent atrocities. (1/2) https://t.co/LpZVMdEIoy
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 11, 2021
Peaceful demonstrators, who had gathered in front of Jaffna university demanding to speak to the Vice-Chancellor, were met with a heavy police and STF presence.
Thus far, two students have been arrested.
The Vice-Chancellor has responded by disparaging the protesters and warning that if they did not leave, they would be "dealt with".