Tamil community to observe `black days` to mark war anniversary

With the first anniversary of the crushing of the LTTE approaching, Canadian Tamils will observe May 17-19 as Days of Remembrance for the Tamils killed.

Updated: May 08, 2010, 10:45 AM IST

Toronto, May 08: With the first anniversary of the crushing of the LTTE approaching, Canadian Tamils will observe May 17-19 as `Days of Remembrance` for the Tamils killed in what they described as "war crimes against humanity" by Sri Lankan forces.

More than 300,000 Canadians Tamils will join their brethren in different parts of the world to remember Tamil civilians killed in the war, said the Canadian Tamil Congress in a statement here Friday.

"As part of remembrance, the Tamils will wear black clothes to mourn the innocent civilians killed by the Sri Lankan army. The community will also wear red ribbons to symbolize the innocent blood spilled in the war crimes against our people in Sri Lanka,`` Canadian Tamil Congress national spokesman David Poopallapillai said.

Tamils, who had brought Toronto to a virtual halt with their demonstrations last year in the later stages of the war, will once again hold rallies in the city on remembrance days.

"The Tamil diaspora will hold prayers, pujas and candlelight vigils during the two days. There will also be masses in churches across Canada,`` said Poopalapillai.

Since Tamils have become a powerful voting bloc in the Toronto area which sends the largest number of MPs to the Canadian parliament, the community is also inviting top leaders of major political parties.

"As the first anniversary of the war approaches, Tamils around the world are united in their grief for those innocents who became victims of war crimes. We would appeal to the international community not to forget the war crimes committed by Sri Lanka, and bring the perpetrators to justice,`` the Canadian Tamil spokesman said.

"When the General (former army chief Sarath Fonseka) who conducted the war has confirmed that war crimes were committed, what proof do you need to prosecute the guilty?`` Poopalapillai asked.

The number of Tamils civilians killed in the later stages of the war differ, but the Times of London has put the figure at 20,000 even as UN representative Gordon Weiss stationed in Sri Lanka at the time of the conflict says at least 40,000 civilians perished in the later offensive.

"But the figure is even higher. Nobody knows exactly how many thousand Tamils perished. We have yet to ascertain exact figures,`` said the Canadian Tamil Congress which vowed to continue struggle for their right to self-determination.

Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamils outside the island nation, with most of the 300,000-strong community settled in the Toronto area.