Statement by Honourable Jim Karygiannis on Black July

Sunday 21st July 2013.

30th Anniversary of Black July Statement by the Honourable Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt

It is with a deep sense of sorrow that I commemorate with you, the events of ‘Black July 1983’.

Today, we pause to remember this atrocity which was committed thirty years ago against civilians in Sri Lanka . Close to 4,000 people were killed, tens of thousands of homes and commercial organizations were destroyed.

It was due to this that hundreds of thousands of Tamils fled the country in search of a safe haven, many coming to Canada .

On this solemn occasion, we pay tribute to the victims, survivors and their families as we commit to ensure that such unspeakable acts are never repeated.

I believe that it is important for everyone to preserve their culture by passing historical events and traditions to future generations. It is important for us to remember the lessons of history and uphold the values Canadians hold dear – peace, freedom, democracy and respect. In doing so, we will develop a deeper understanding of our duty and responsibility to our fellow man.

It is our solemn responsibility to work together to ensure that not only Sri Lankans but all people in the world, live in peace and harmony in the future.

Since the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in May, 2009, there has been a marked deterioration in Sri Lanka with respect to human rights and the rule of law. The current situation is most disappointing to those who believed that there was an opportunity to create a viable and strong democratic country with the end of the civil war.

In March, 2013, I joined parliamentarians, academics, lawyers and journalists from around the world in Geneva at the UNHCR, to discuss the past and present situations in Sri Lanka and the way forward for the Tamils of Eelam.

During the panel discussion on genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka over the past thirty years, I said “It takes three parties to create a genocide – the perpetrators, the victims and those who stand by. The international community must stop standing idly by. While the killing has stopped, we must tell the Sri Lankan government to stop the cultural genocide and submit to an international inquiry into the 2009 war.”

I believe that what happened in Sri Lanka was nothing less than Genocide.

The panel on genocide discussed the various forms that, taken together, constitute a genocide – the killing of civilians, the rape of women, the appropriation of property and the destruction of culture and language.

In discussing the way forward to peace in Sri Lanka I told delegates “To tango, it takes two willing participants. Unfortunately, in this case we have two participants who want to dance but can’t agree on the steps.”

I have worked with, and continue to work with, members of the Tamil and Sinhalese Canadian Diasporas in order to find ‘Peace with Justice’ in Sri Lanka .



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