Ontario court upholds Tamil Genocide Education Week

A Canadian court has dismissed a constitutional challenge over Ontario’s proclamation of Tamil Genocide Education Week — concluding that its purpose is purely “educative.”

In a case that cast a spotlight on tension between diasporas, several Sinhalese-Canadian groups took Ontario to court for designating the seven-day period each year ending May 18 — the date the Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009 — to raise awareness of the Tamil genocide and other genocides in world history.

The Sinhalese applicants claimed that no Tamil genocide has been recognized under international law, arguing that the provincial government didn’t have the authority to adopt the term “genocide” and that the designation would promote hatred for one group over another.

In quashing the claim by the Sinhalese applicants, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said the 26-year-old civil war ravaged Sri Lanka, but the fight has not ended.

“A new battle has emerged over who gets to write the history of the war,” wrote Justice Jasmine Akbarali in a ruling released Tuesday. “While this new battle does not intuitively seem like an issue for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, it has in fact become one.”

The Tamil-Canadian diaspora welcomed the decision, saying education is one of the only ways available for the community to pursue justice and healing because the Sri Lanka government has been reluctant to recognize the atrocities and punish those responsible.

“Tamils across the province can now focus on what matters — commemorating and remembering the countless lives lost,” said Katpana Nagendra, a member of the Tamil Rights Group, one of the organizations granted intervener status in this case.

The Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, a private member’s bill tabled by Conservative MPP Vijay Thanigasalam, who is of Tamil descent, was passed unanimously in the Ontario legislature last year.

The preamble of the proclamation of the Tamil Genocide Education Week states that Tamil Ontarians have lost loved ones and have been physically or mentally traumatized by the genocide that the Sri Lankan state perpetrated against the Tamils during the civil war, which lasted from 1983 to the Tamil Tigers’ defeat in 2009.

Akbarali said the court heard evidence from “dueling” witnesses about the Sri Lankan civil war, and specifically, whether or not what occurred amounted to a genocide of Tamils.

“I am not deciding who bears the blame, or who bears more of the blame, for the tremendous suffering and trauma that occurred as a result of the Sri Lankan civil war,” the judge wrote in the 18-page decision.

“Nor am I deciding whether it was wise for the Ontario Legislature to pass the TGEWA. The wisdom of the legislation is a question that belongs solely to the Legislature, and more indirectly, to the voters of the province. The question before me relates only to the constitutionality of the TGEWA.”

While the court agreed with the claim that the proclamation recognizes a Tamil genocide, it said the act is in the spirit of educating the public about the event and other genocides to prevent such atrocities from occurring, and helping create an opportunity for Tamil Ontarians to share their stories and the intergenerational trauma the legislature has recognized.

“The TGEWA does not require any particular educational initiatives to be undertaken by any particular institution,” said Akbarali. “The dominant characteristic of the law is to educate the public about what the Ontario Legislature has concluded is a Tamil genocide.”

The province did not infringe on the federal jurisdiction in relation to the designation of genocide because the act didn’t contain a penalty or claim to determine that genocide has taken place “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The perpetrator of the genocide recognized by the Legislature is … to be the Sri Lankan government. A claim or a finding of genocide perpetrated by a government or a state does not tar individuals who may be members of the same nationality, ethnicity, or religious affiliation as those people who dominate the government or state,” said the court. (Courtesy The Star)

4 COMMENTS

  1. The Canadian courts have revealed their ugly heads, with regards to terrorism. Canada always took the side of the LTTE and let them continue with daily bombing and allowed child soldiers to be used as suicide bombers!
    Canadians will learn their lesson when terrorism raise their heads on their soil and the same bombing and suicide bombers walked the streets.
    They don’t care what bullying and fear in general is like for the Sinhala Canadians.
    All they care is for the money, because the LTTE is a big business in Canada. Sri Lanka should chase the current High Commissioner for Canada for this.

  2. Muslim massacres of Christians continue unabated, but, the West remains as apologists for these barbarians.

    The civil war in Sri Lanka resulted in the Sinhalese and Tamils massacring each other at various times during conflict. What is the point of debate ? Which side killed the most ?

    Putin is killing civilians in Ukraine everyday. What is the West going to do about it ? SWEET FA !

  3. Shame on the Ontario Government. It does not educate white settlers’ genocide. This is all about dividing and conquering Sri Lanka.

    The western powers, especially the Five Eyes countries have been dividing and conquering the world’s majority successfully. They have already destroyed the USSR and Soviet Union. Currently, encircling Russia. Further steps have been taken to undermine China’s Road and Belt Initiative. The Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders don’t even live in their own country. On top of that they tricked the Russian leaders and bought Alaska. This world is not wise that is why the people who don’t live in their own countries are dominating the world. Worse of all, they are minority and they don’t live in their own country, but dominating the world’s majority who live in their own countries. About time for the world’s majority to think and act wisely to counterattack the western powers’ divide and conquer strategy.

    The British Empire’s genocide in Australasia.

    Evidence indicates that the British orchestrated genocidal policies and practices surreptitiously on Aboriginal people and their culture. According to Professor Tom Lawson, the British effectively supported the ethnic cleansing of Aboriginal Tasmanians during the period of martial law between 1828 and 1832. Professor Lawson made a compelling case for the Tasmanian genocide. He further states that the colonists’ terms were ‘extermination and extirpation’ when they discussed the colonial invasion of the homelands of the island’s Aboriginal inhabitants (Lawson 2014). Nick Brodie argues that the genocide was highly orchestrated, but deliberately downplayed, in order to eliminate Aboriginal people. Brodie used over 1,000 pages of Colonel George Arthur’s handwritten documents, informing exactly how he executed the genocide in Tasmania (Brodie 2017).

    The British Empire’s genocide in North America.

    Professor Taiaiake Alfred is a Kahnawake Mohawk educator and writer and founding director of the University of Victoria’s indigenous governance programs in Canada. He argues celebrating ‘America’s 400th Birthday’ ignores the genocide of the continent’s native people. It’s hard for a native person to be anything but shocked and saddened to the core by the effrontery of it all. Jamestown 2007 is, in essence, a surreptitious celebration of the conquest of our homeland and the destruction of our people in the service of imperialism and the expansion of the white race. It marks the era that saw indigenous peoples ravaged by diseases introduced by European settlers, on average, our communities lost 75 percent of their populations and the dispossession of our homelands by fraud and deceit – not a single treaty entered into by the English Crown or the US has been honoured by the white settlers.’ (Taiakake 2007).

  4. Shame on the Ontario Government. It don’t educate white settlers’ genocide. This is all about dividing and conquering Sri Lanka.

    The western powers, especially the Five Eyes countries have been dividing and conquering the world successfully. They have already destroyed the USSR and Soviet Union. Currently, encircling Russia. Further steps have been taken to undermine China’s Road and Belt Initiative. The Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders don’t even live in their own country. On top of that they tricked the Russian leaders and bought Alaska. This world is not wise that is why the people who don’t live in their own countries are dominating the world. Worse of all, they are minority and they don’t live in their own country, but dominating the world’s majority who live in their own countries. About time for the world’s majority to think and act wisely to counterattack the western powers’ divide and conquer strategy.

    The British Empire’s genocide in Australasia. 

    Evidence indicates that the British orchestrated genocidal policies and practices surreptitiously on Aboriginal people and their culture. According to Professor Tom Lawson, the British effectively supported the ethnic cleansing of Aboriginal Tasmanians during the period of martial law between 1828 and 1832. Professor Lawson made a compelling case for the Tasmanian genocide. He further states that the colonists’ terms were ‘extermination and extirpation’ when they discussed the colonial invasion of the homelands of the island’s Aboriginal inhabitants (Lawson 2014). Nick Brodie argues that the genocide was highly orchestrated, but deliberately downplayed, in order to eliminate Aboriginal people. Brodie used over 1,000 pages of Colonel George Arthur’s handwritten documents, informing exactly how he executed the genocide in Tasmania (Brodie 2017). 

    The British Empire’s genocide in North America. 

    Professor Taiaiake Alfred is a Kahnawake Mohawk educator and writer and founding director of the University of Victoria’s indigenous governance programs in Canada. He argues celebrating ‘America’s 400th Birthday’ ignores the genocide of the continent’s native people. It’s hard for a native person to be anything but shocked and saddened to the core by the effrontery of it all. Jamestown 2007 is, in essence, a surreptitious celebration of the conquest of our homeland and the destruction of our people in the service of imperialism and the expansion of the white race. It marks the era that saw indigenous peoples ravaged by diseases introduced by European settlers, on average, our communities lost 75 percent of their populations and the dispossession of our homelands by fraud and deceit – not a single treaty entered into by the English Crown or the US has been honoured by the white settlers.’ (Taiakake 2007).

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