Published 1 month ago
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Influential Ontario Legislative Assembly has resolved that Sri Lanka subjected the Tamil community to genocide during the armed conflict. The Legislative Assembly voted in favour of Bill 104 (aka the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act),moved by Sri Lankan asylum seeker-turned Scarborough-Rouge Park member of Parliament Vijay Thanigasalam, at the third reading in the legislature, Canada and the UK-based sources told The Island. The first reading took place on April 30th, 2019, and the second on May 16, 2019.
A key member of the Sri Lanka Core Group, at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, Canada backed the vote on March 23, 2021 against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. Argentina, Armenia, Austria, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay voted against Sri Lanka.
The passage of Bill 104 took place on May 6, 2021 in the absence of a cohesive campaign by Sri Lanka to oppose the Canadian move, sources said.
On Twitter, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MP Vijay Thanigasalam declared the passage of Bill 104 ‘a historic event for Tamil people in Ontario and across the world. The Canadian media quoted Thanigasalam as having said: “Ontario is the first government worldwide to pass such a law.”
Thanigasalam, in addition to being Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly is also member, Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation.
Sources said that the Canadian move had been made in the wake of the unprecedented rejection of retired Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner therein. Sources said that AM Dias was rejected on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations.
Former journalist Sithara Khan functions as the Acting High Commissioner since the SLPP government recalled Sri Lanka Ambassador there Asoka Girihagama, a career diplomat who reached the retirement age during his stint there. Girihagama, however, hasn’t returned to the country yet. Girihagama succeeded another career diplomat Ahmed A Jawad in late 2018.
The government recently made an abortive bid to dispatch outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC, to Canada.
The Bill 104, the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, establishes seven days each year, May 11 to 18, during which Ontarians “are encouraged to educate themselves about, and to maintain their awareness of, the Tamil genocide and other genocides that have occurred in world history.” The weeklong event coincides with the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s successful war against the LTTE on the morning of May 19, 2009, on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, sources said.
Several Sri Lankan organizations strongly opposed the move with some making representations to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. Among them was Dr. Neville Hewage, research fellow, Public Policy and Governance, International Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Law, Laurentian University, Ontario.
Hewage told The Island that the Ontario Legislative Assembly lacked jurisdiction to pass Bill 104 under any circumstances. Hewage in his comprehensive submission pointed out that the adopted Bill while making reference to a death toll of 40,000 to 75,000 in May 2009, referred to what it called other estimates which placed the number of deaths in 2009 (January 1 to May 18, 2009) at 146,679.
Canada based sources said that Vijay Thanigasalam openly identified himself with the LTTE even after the end of war. On Nov 26, 2011, Vijay Thanigasalam in a Facebook post stated: “Happy 57th birthday to our national Leader V. Prabhakaran.” However, Vijay Thanigasalam apologized for sharing LTTE material. The politician stated: “In the past I shared material related to the Tamil Tigers. I apologize and I no longer hold those views.”: