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Liberation Struggle for Tamil Self-determination: 20 Years After

The Importance of the Delisting of LTTE for the Exercise of Socio-political Equality for Global Tamil Diaspora

Marking 20 years since the 2002 Norwegian facilitated Ceasefire agreement between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) on 22 February 2002, the Canadian Tamil organizations are hosting a conference that will focus on:

1. The impact and consequence of the listing of LTTE as a terrorist organization, a movement that was fighting in defence of the right to Self-determination of Eelam Tamils.

2. The prolonged extension of the listing of LTTE as a terrorist organization despite the movement having ceased its operations in 2009.

3. Understanding that the continuous renewal of the ban that stigmatizes and discriminates against the whole Tamil diaspora that has been fighting for the rights of Tamils in Eelam using democratic means.

Ever since the British colonial rulers left Ceylon in 1948, Tamils have been subjected to periodic pogroms resulting in the killing of thousands and thousands of innocent Tamil civilians. In 1976, after three decades of failed non-violent protests against the genocide perpetrated by the GOSL, Tamils chose through a democratic process to establish an independent state of Tamil Eelam. This democratic mandate of the Tamils in 1976-77 was countered by the Sinhalese-led governments though tacitly supporting anti-Tamil pogroms in 1977, 1981, and 1983. An oppressive military occupation of the Tamil homeland by Sri Lankan armed forces, composed mainly of Sinhalese, unleashed indiscriminate attacks, mass detention, and torture of Tamil youth involved in non-violent political struggle. This led to the emergence of the LTTE with grassroot support of the Tamil people to counter the GOSL in an international armed conflict for Tamil self-determination. By the 1990s, the LTTE had become the Tamil Eelam defence force, and the armed conflict was one between the two parties: the GOSL and the LTTE. The LTTE also evolved into the de facto government responsible for numerous civil functions throughout the territory it controlled in the Tamil homeland with the overwhelming support of the Tamil people.

After attaining a military parity of status by 2002, the LTTE entered into an internationally mediated ceasefire agreement enabled by the Norwegian Government, also supported by the USA, European Union, and Japan. As of 2003, the LTTE set forth the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal as part of the internationally facilitated peace process. The LTTE mobilized itself to help the victims of the 2004 tsunami despite the restrictions placed by Sri Lanka. Disregarding the absence of any violence on the part of the LTTE, in 2006, Canada and European Union listed LTTE on their terrorist list jeopardizing the peace process. This clearly tilted the balance in favour of the Sri Lankan government and offered a green light for it to proceed with its genocide against the Tamils. In 2008, Sri Lanka unilaterally broke the internationally-mediated ceasefire agreement with the LTTE and began a military offensive in the Tamil homeland with indiscriminate aerial bombardment of Tamil civilian areas. Tamil Eelam was destroyed in May 2009 with the LTTE silencing its weapons

The Tamil diaspora is living with many unanswered questions; the main one of which is whether the new international norm was to deny the rights to external and internal self-determination of Eelam Tamils. Rather than ushering peace and dignity, the international peace process achieved the complete opposite in the dreams of peace with justice in the Tamil homeland in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of Tamils were killed and after the war ended thousands of prisoners of war were tortured and executed. All traces of the struggle including Tamil memories and sacred graves were also destroyed after the war ended. It has been 12 years since the destruction of the Tamil Eelam government and the elimination of LTTE. Therefore, the active and ongoing renewal of the ban on the LTTE by the international community prompts many questions about its motive.

Global Tamil Diaspora, who escaped the Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka, settled in the western world over the recent decades. Since 2009, the genocide continues in many new forms, and Tamils have lost more land to Sinhalese colonization in the last 12 years than ever before. Since 2009, Canada has reviewed and renewed the ban against the LTTE five times, drawing the ire of the Tamil community about this act of stigmatizing the Tamil diaspora and politically expounding the Tamil aspirations. In 2020, Britain’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission found that the Home Office decision to keep the LTTE proscribed as a terrorist organization was “flawed” and unlawful.

The Global war on terror initiative by the USA after 9/11 targeted terrorism. It provided enormous power to the governments around the world and punished the people who seek freedom from genocide more than it did with real terrorism. While governments such as genocidal Sri Lanka are free to commit crimes of genocide, the continuous ban on the LTTE suppressed political action by the majority of diaspora Tamils who feel tarnished by the stigmatization as terrorists in the post 9/11 era.

We are confident that a Conference with academics, legal experts, and organizations will shed light on this important issue. With that as the background, we announce a Conference dedicated to the above issue to be held on December 11, 2021.

The conference will be organized by the Coalition for Tamil Political Rights.

Members of the Coalition as of September 8, 2021 are:

Tamil Genocide Memorial (TGM)
Quebec Tamil Development Association (QTDA)
Ottawa Tamil Association (OTA)
Canadian Tamil Coalition for Justice and Accountability (CTCJA)
Tamil Rights Group (TRG)
United Tamil Solidarity Front (UTSF)
Tamil Canadian Centre for Civic Action (TCCCA)

Additional non-profit organizations in Canada will join this Coalition for the conference.

Contact: community@tamilconferences.org or +1 (647) 547 0199

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