TamilNet, September 25, 2004 Report - Record crowds throng Canada's Pongu Thamil -
"Canadian Tamil Radio (CTR) broadcasters estimated a
record gathering of close to 75,000 people at the Pongu Thamil
(Tamil uprising) event at Queens Park in Toronto Saturday afternoon.
Addressing the Pongu Thamil gathering, Mr. Michael Prue, MPP for
East York and Beaches said he has been a politician for 18 years,
was born and raised in Toronto and that he has never seen a crowd
like he saw today in the history of Queens Park lawn. Attendees at
the event said two large LCD screens were organized for the overflow
crowd to view the event.
Jack Layton, MP and Leader of New Democratic Party (NDP) said that
stereotyping will not be tolerated in any form in Canada. Every
citizen has equal right and has the right of enjoy all freedom
equally and there are no second class citizens in Canada. He said he
regretted the refusal of visa for the Tamil parliamentarians who
wanted to come to Canada to participate in this occasion. He assured
he would take up this matter with the appropriate authorities. "By
all accounts Pongu Thamil has displayed growing political strength
of Thamil Canadians and has eclipsed all previous events," a senior
Tamil activist told TamilNet correspondent in Toronto.
Canadian Tamil Students Association is the driving force behind this
event. "Thousands of students across the park clad in yellow
T-shirts actively participated and helped in the smooth running of
the event and all Tamils appreciated the efforts of our youths,"
said a caller to the CTR radio.
The student organizers said that the Pongu Thamil will urge,
1.the Government of Sri Lanka to recommence immediately peace talks
on the basis of the
Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal
submitted by the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE) without
further prevarications or conditions.
2. the Canadian Government to pressure the GOSL to
take forward the
stalled peace process on the basis of the ISGA
proposal, which has received the mandate of the Thamil people and
the backing of the international community,
3. the Canadian Government to host the peace talks
between the GOSL and LTTE in Canada as a practical demonstration of
its support to the peace process, and the international community to
understand and appreciate the hopes and genuine
aspirations of the
people of Thamil Eelam who have long been
oppressed by majoritarian
Sinhala dominated governments.
The Pongu Thamil celebrations was broadcast/telecast
alive around the globe. CTR radio said that in Toronto area
broadcasts were only available through the internet from 2pm when
the Pongu Thamil event was scheduled to begin."
Press Report, 25 September 2004 - Sri Lankan Tamils rally
at Queen's Park; demand Canada help peace process
Canada is home to the largest Tamil population
outside Sri Lanka - and India. Nearly 200,000 alone reside in
the GTA. Organizers and attendants spoke passionately Saturday
about the allegations of terrorism constantly dogging the
Tigers, an organization viewed by some as freedom fighters.
Ottawa has not officially banned the group, despite a 2003
request from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The
Tamil Tigers are listed as a terrorist organization by the
United States and the RCMP has alleged that it has front groups
in Canada that funnel vast amounts of money to fighters in Sri
``It's a free country, we respect their right to express their
opinions,'' said organizer Ashwin Balamohan, 21, adding the
terror allegations are false. ``We're confident in what we're
saying and that's why we're out here saying it in the open.''
The students' call to the Canadian government to play a large
role in the
Sri Lankan peace process was supported by many of
the attendants at Saturday's rally. ``The government of Canada
has always been in the forefront of peacemaking, and therefore
we want them to be very involved,'' said Father Xavier Francis,
76. ``If the Tamils and the Sinhalese can meet in Oslo, if they
can meet in Japan, why can't they meet in Ottawa or in
Toronto?'' Canada has provided funds and advice in an
effort to achieve a sustainable political solution to the
long-standing conflict. Most recently, Canada funded an observer
group to monitor Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections, which
took place April 2.
Elagupillai At Pongu Thamil in Queen’s Park, Toronto
Members of the Tamil Students Association, Vicar
General Fr. Emmanuel, Special Guests, Federal Provincial and Local
Government authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am honoured to be with you this evening at this historic Pongu
Thamil Celebration at the Queens Park Grounds in our wonderful city
of Toronto.I want to thank the members of the Canadian Tamil
Students Association for the invitation.This celebration also marks
the occasion of the "United Nations International Peace Day." The
United Nations General Assembly proclaimed September 21st Day as
International Peace Day. The Secretary General of the United Nations,
Kofi Annan, in his Peace Day Message, asked every nation in the
world, every organization in the world to conduct activities
appropriately to heighten the awareness of Peace Day.
Indeed, it is gratifying that the Canadian Tamil Students
Association has taken upon itself the task of glorifying
International Peace Day through the Tamil Awareness – Pongu Tamil
Celebration. I salute our students for their initiatives. The choice
of the venue for this celebration is also very appropriate. Toronto
is the home of people originated from every part of the world. It is
the most multi-ethnic city in the world. We can call Toronto the
City of United Nations. Students, I congratulate you for the choice
of this location, Queens Park.
May I also recall that this week is so special in more ways than
This is also the week in September of 1987 that a young man in his
tender age gave his life by fasting in search of a lasting peace in
Sri Lanka. This is the 17th Anniversary of Thiyagi Thileepan’s
death. All he wanted was the genuine and peaceful implementation of
the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.
It is also the week of the meeting of the
59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. World leaders
are pouring into New York to talk about PEACE and actions for peace.It is also the week of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Bell,
located on 42nd Street & 1st Avenue in New York.
On the aftermath of the Nuclear holocaust in Japan, students and
children from 60 countries tirelessly collected coins for the
promotion of Peace. These coins, weighing 116 kg was handed over to
the 13th United Nations General Assembly held in Paris. The Assembly
decided to melt this mass of coins and to make a bell – Peace Bell.
At the installation of the Peace Bell, the Secretary General said
"This Bell – the Peace Bell – embodies the aspiration for Peace not
only of the students who collected the coins, but of the people of
the entire world" This Peace Bell is rung by the Secretary General
on the 21st of every September.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let me refresh what the greatest Statesman of this Century, Nelson
Mandela said. He said "PEACE" is the product of justice. Peace must
be achieved through justice. It must be a just peace. It cannot come
out of barrels and postulations.
Peace is such a simple thing. It is very inexpensive. You do not
need guns and tanks and Tomohawks, and billion-dollar budgets.
Simply sitting together and by talking of hearts you can achieve so
much. So why are we insensitive? For some, peace is so uneventful.
It does not get into the news stories.
I would like to remind you what Jeremy Gilley, the
founder of the International Peace Day, said.Gilley was a British
Actor, Author, and a Peace Activist worked tirelessly for Peace Day.
He was very excited that on September 07, 2001 the United Nations
proclaimed the first Peace Day. Therefore, he was hoping to see
front-page coverage in the media. So, the first anniversary came on
September 21, 2002. He was watching for news coverage and the result
CNN – the King of Television News – Not a word.
The Giant of Newspapers, The New York Times – Not a word.
Many media believe that "Peace is Not Newsworthy."
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let me turn my attention to Canada. Why is Pongu Thamil in Canada?
The population of the Tamil Canadians in this country is nearly
300,000. This is the single largest Sri Lankan Tamil population
outside Sri Lanka. The conflict in Sri Lanka has been going on for
over 40 years. Thousands and thousands of people lost their lives,
millions of dollars lost in property destroyed.
What is happening in Sri Lanka affects every man, woman and child
and their friends. Many Canadians have their friends, relatives and
loved ones still living in Sri Lanka. When my parents or my brothers
or friends are in danger, fearing for their life, when my nephews
and nieces do not have a school to go to or fear being bombed at
their school, when my cousin does not have a house to live because
his house was destroyed by aerial bombardment,
I am worried. I am very worried. I do not have peace of mind.
I cannot focus on my work. I do not feel like participating in any
community or social events. My productivity at work diminishes. As a
true Canadian, I am unable to contribute my full energy and
enthusiasm to improve the quality of life of Canadians. This is
unacceptable in a civilized society such as ours. Therefore, when
lack of peace in Sri Lanka adversely affects more than 300,000
Canadians, then it is a Canadian issue.
Let me give you some statistics to justify why this is a Canadian
What is the population Windsor, where our Prime Minister, Right Hon
Paul Martin, was born? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the Canadian Tamil
population. What is the population of Canada’s home of automakers -
Oshawa? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the Canadian Tamil population.
What is the population of the City of Ottawa, the seat of Power of
the Great Canadian Confederation? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the
Canadian Tamil population. What is the population of Prince Edward
Island? Answer: 150,000 – Only 50% of Canadian Tamil population.
What is the combined population of the three Canadian territories
(Yukon, NWT and Nunuvet)? Answer: 100,000 - Only 30% of the Canadian
Tamil population. What is the population of the Riding of – LaSalle
– Emard, in Quebec? Answer:100,000 - Only 30% of the Canadian Tamil
Can we imagine the reactions and response of the governments at the
Federal, Provincial and local levels if the entire population of a
city, such as Windsor, Oshawa, or Ottawa were affected by an issue?
Can we imagine the reaction of the federal government when the
entire province of PEI and the three territories combined are
affected? Can you understand the reaction of the Prime Minister when
every man, woman and child in his riding of LaSalle-Emard is
Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, Peace in Sri Lanka should be a
primary concern to Canada. The Canadian government should take the
lead and assist in facilitating peace in Sri Lanka. Every government
has the moral responsibility to work for peace in Sri Lanka. I call
upon our Prime Minister, Hon Paul Martin, to take an active role in
promoting a lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Why? Because it affects a
sizable proportion of Canadians.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
There were many peace talks in the past between the Sinhala and the
Tamil Leadership, dating back more than 40 years. I do not want to
go into details of these agreements and Pacts.
You can read them in
the web. There have been many agreements between the two parties,
only to be torn apart or abrogated shortly after the agreements were
hatched. Each successive government negotiated peace, and the party
in opposition protested against the agreement. There was no
determined will in the government of the day to implements those
Realizing the opposition party of the day usually ends up destroying
the pact, as late as 1997,
the British Deputy Foreign Minister Liam
Fox had a bipartisan agreement to cooperate on peace signed between
President Kumaratunge and the Ranil Wickramasinghe which was
discarded after the government was dissolved. Now we have another
historic opportunity in that the Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickramasinghe recently gave his unconditional support to President
Chandrika Kumaratunge to start the peace talks once again. Also, we
have a historic opportunity that the
Government of Norway has
undertaken to facilitate the Peace Talks.
Also another historic opportunity: The Tamil people gave a
resounding message in the past General Election of April 2004,
electing 22 Tamil National alliance members of Parliament. These MPs
have a mandate from the people of the NorthEast to promote the Peace
Talks under the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Let us not kid ourselves. The
LTTE is the accepted leadership of the
National struggle of the Tamil people. There is no peace without
talking to the LTTE. That is why the Government of Norway has been
having dialogue between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka.
A year ago the LTTE gave a set of guidelines for the start of the
peace talks. These guidelines were known as the
Governing Authority (ISGA) Proposals. In my judgment, it is a damn
good basis to start the talks. I ask each and every one of you to
read it. It is a very sensible proposal. This could be a sensible
basis for negotiations. The Government of Sri Lanka should start the
talks with Norway facilitation. The peace talks have been paralyzed
for the past 2 years. Accusations and counter accusations are
Why are we waiting? Each day of delay in achieving peace adds up to
a toll on both sides of the divide. I ask the Canadian Prime
Minister, Why are we waiting and what are we waiting for? Let us
promote the Norway-facilitated peace talks.
Let us bring Peace to the hearts and minds of 300,000 Tamil
Canadians and their friends.
Peace denied is justice denied. I ask the Canadian Tamil Community
to work together with the Government of Canada in promoting peace in
Eelam Nation, September 18, 2004
- 300,000-strong Thamil community has decided to organise
‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada
"The 300,000-strong Thamil community has decided to organise
‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada despite all attempts to disrupt the event
by anti-Thamil movements. Organisers of the ‘Pongu Thamil’ event in
Canada said the event would take place as scheduled and the Canadian
Thamil Students Association (CTSA) would organise a ‘Pongu Thamil’
demonstration on September 25th in front of the Ontario Provincial
The aim of ‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada is to convince the Canadian
government to play a leading role in the ongoing peace process
between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of
Thamil Eelam to end the two-decade old war. ‘Pongu Thamil’ will urge
the Canadian government to abandon its passive and unimaginative
role for more active and inspiring one by offering Canada as a venue
to host a round of the peace talks in
Sri Lanka’s peace process.
The demonstration will highlight the importance of the
Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the northeast of Sri
Lanka and call on Canada and the international community to
recognise the ISGA and the urgency for implementing it.
The first series of ‘Pongu Thamil’ demonstrations were held by the
Thamil students in the government controlled areas of
Sri Lanka in 2001.
They were a remarkable success despite of the climate of fear
created by the Sri Lankan forces, which underscored the gravity of
the situation and desperation that had descended upon the Thamils in
northeast Sri Lanka and they even risked their lives and took to
Since the first series of the ‘Pongu Thamil’ several other similar
by Thamils in Sri Lanka and by the Thamil diaspora.
The Canadian Thamils will show their solidarity with their relatives
in Sri Lanka through the ‘Pongu Thamil’ on September 25, 2004 by
participating in large numbers, said the organisers. The organisers
said local Thamil organisations in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston,
Winnipeg and Vancouver are making arrangements to bring people to
Toronto to take part in this event.
Thamil student associations in post-secondary institutions in Canada
are also planning to bring students for this event as well, they