A statement of solidarity delivered at Founders Assembly Hall, York University, Toronto, ON.
Good evening everyone. On behalf of our comrades on the York University campus and the Filipino Canadian community at large, as members of the Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada, the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance, we declare that we stand in solidarity with the Tamil People both within Tamil Eelam and throughout the Tamil Diaspora in the face of systemic violence and discrimination waged by the Sri Lankan state.
On this important day, we stand beside you to celebrate Maaveerar Naal, in appreciation of the immense contributions made by the fallen fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the fight for the recognition of a Tamil ancestral homeland.
As members of the Filipino Canadian community, we condemn the outright massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils in Tamil Eelam, and the internal and external displacement of hundreds of thousands more. All this, while the international community has turned a blind eye. All this, while the mainstream media refuses to report on the massacres, rapes, intimidation, and other human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan military.
One needs only to remember the horror of July 1983, when over 3000 Tamils were murdered in Colombo, and over 150,000 people made homeless at the hands of the Sri Lankan military, who claim that they were acting in self-defence, when in reality, they were committing genocide.
We also remember the burning of Jaffna Library in 1981, when over 97,000 volumes of manuscripts and texts documenting Tamil history and culture, were destroyed. We condemn this as an attempt to erase the academic, artistic, and historical contributions of the Tamil people.
We remember the systemic barriers put up to prevent Tamil people from working in the civil service, with the Sri Lankan government’s Sinhala-only policy. We remember the systemic barriers put up to prevent Tamil students from getting access to universities, with entrance requirements substantially more stringent on Tamil students in comparison with Sinhalese students.
We remember the last 4 months of the civil war in 2009, when the Sri Lankan government encouraged 400,000 Tamils to migrate into so-called “no-fire zones”, only to be mercilessly shelled by the Sri Lankan military. It has been 7 years since this horrific slaughter of more than 70,000, predominantly Tamil civilians, and the Sri Lankan government continues to deny responsibility.
Make no mistake my brothers and sisters, the Filipinos in Canada, the Philippines, and around the globe see your struggle. With deep regret, I say that Muslims and Christians in the Philippines have also been subjected to colonial divide and rule. Mindanao, the southernmost region in the Philippines, since the 13th century, was populated almost predominantly by Muslims. Beginning in the 1950s, the central government of the Philippines sponsored the mass migration of Christians from Luzon and Visayas to Mindanao. Lands that were traditionally communally owned, were violently appropriated from the Muslim population, and distributed among the new Christian settlers, resulting in a war that would last 44 years, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
We emphasize that greater struggle we must fight together is against colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, and this struggle is faced by Filipinos and Tamils, both within our respective ancestral homelands and in the Diaspora. We must not forget, my friends, that our struggle, as Filipinos and Tamils alike, is not only against the outright state-sponsored racist violence against our respective ethnic and religious minorities in our ancestral homelands, but also against the capitalist exploitation of Filipino and Tamil workers in the Diaspora. Our Diasporic transnational communities are defined by forced migration. From Singapore to Malaysia to the United Arab Emirates to Canada, Tamils and Filipinos work like slaves for barely a living wage. All because we faced both armed conflict and economic violence in our homelands and were forced to leave.
Today, we are here on the ancestral land of the Haudenosaunee, the Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Standing against the colonial power, and imperialist state of Canada is our necessary task, not only to acknowledge Canada’s violent history of colonization, segregation and genocide of Indigenous Peoples, but to support the Indigenous People’s struggle for sovereignty and self determination. Just as the established upper class elite power in the colonial state of Sri Lanka continue to oppress the Tamil people, we must stand with our brothers and sisters of Tamil Eelam in their struggle for national liberation. To continue this history of resistance here on Turtle Island means recognizing the very capitalist, elite enemies that have dictated our own histories of forced migration, and oppression as workers.
On behalf of UKPC, we say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! ONWARD TO REVOLUTION! We stand in solidarity with the revolutionary demands of the Tamil community. We demand that the Sri Lankan government abolish its discriminatory and outright murderous policies against the Tamil people. We stand here before you, as members of the progressive Filipino Canadian community in condemnation of the genocide of the Tamil people. We stand here before you in recognition of the ancestral homeland of the Tamil people, Tamil Eelam. We stand here before you in recognition of the right of return for all Tamil refugees and migrants and we demand that the Sri Lankan government accept responsibility for the genocide of 2009. We must stand in solidarity as oppressed people from oppressed nations to say no to imperialism and end bourgeois political power.
Tamil Eelam to Palestine – Occupation is a crime!