June 30, 2022
For Immediate Release
Markham, Canada – The Tamil Rights Group (TRG) welcomes the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, 2021 (TGEWA). The Court decision has appropriately assisted in how Sri Lanka’s genocidal war will be remembered in Ontario, a place that a large Eelam Tamil diaspora calls home after fleeing Sri Lanka. With this dismissal of the spurious challenges to the Act, Tamils across the province and country can now focus on what matters – commemorating and remembering the countless lives lost in the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka and continue their pursuit for justice and accountability.
Given the Sri Lankan government’s unwillingness to accept the atrocities committed by the state and punish those responsible for genocidal acts, education is one of the only ways available for the community to heal. Old and young people alike have already started using this important legislation as a catalyst to design and deliver more educational programming across the province through school boards and other avenues. Intergenerational and historic trauma will exist for a long time, which is why recognising and successfully protecting legislation like TGEWA is an important achievement.
This decision comes on the heels of the Government of Canada recently recognising May 18 of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day through a unanimous motion in the House of Commons. Earlier this month, TRG also presented a Parliamentary Petition, through MPs Jasraj Hallan (Calgary Forest Lawn) and Garnett Genius (Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan), requesting the Federal government to refer TRG’s Communication under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan state. TRG will continue to engage all political parties as it contributes to the fight for justice and accountability for the Eelam Tamil people, and this new court decision is an important step towards achieving that goal.
Justice J. Akbarali said it best, “In my view, the evidence I have reviewed demonstrates that the recognition of a Tamil genocide is in service of (i) educating the public about the Tamil genocide, and about other genocides, including the need to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future; (ii) through education, allowing non-Tamil Ontarians the opportunity to better understand their Tamil neighbours, and Tamil youth to better understand their families, community and history; and (iii) through education, helping to create the conditions for Tamil Ontarians to share their stories and begin to heal from the trauma and inter-generational trauma that the Legislature has recognized.”
TRG extends its thanks to Ontario MPP Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough – Rouge Park) for his leadership in sponsoring and successfully passing TGEWA, and acknowledges the efforts of the Attorney General of Ontario, our legal counsel Janani Shanmuganathan, and fellow interveners who defended the Act in court, including the National Council of Canadian Tamils, the Canadian Tamil Academy, and the Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance.
For all media enquiries: Jaskaran Sandhu + 1 647-990-8720 | [email protected]