Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler calls for ceasefire in Sri Lanka

Martin C.
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Responding to an appeal by city councillor Marvin Rotrand for support to the Tamils in wartorn Sri Lanka, Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler points out he has been speaking in their defence and for an end to hostilities for some time.

Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler calls for ceasefire in Sri Lanka

“This is an issue that Irwin Cotler is deeply engaged with,” said Howard Liebman, Cotler’s political assistant at the riding office. He said Cotler has had numerous meetings with members of the Montreal Tamil community to hear their version of events in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka.

The Mount Royal riding, which extends over a large area of Côte des Neiges, has a significant number of people of Tamil origin among its constituents. Last week during the Borough of Côte des Neiges-NDG’s monthly public meeting, Rotrand said equating Tamils with terrorism is “odious.” He said the situation in Sri Lanka is “completely out of control.”

Since 1983, a civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist militant organization that is fighting to create an independent state, has taken a heavy toll.

Aided by an international crackdown on funding to the Tigers, the Sri Lankan government in recent years has managed to regain control of more than 99 per cent of the territory. However, in recent weeks the government’s escalated military interventions, leading towards what it claims will bring closure to the conflict, have resulted in an especially high civilian toll “There’s a tendency in some media to equate the word Tamil with terrorism, which I find is a rather odious association,” said Rotrand. “I think somebody’s got to intervene. This situation’s completely out of control and it’s a humanitarian crisis.”

Addressing the House of Commons in February on Sri Lanka’s independence day, Cotler noted that Canada is home to the largest number of people from the Tamil diaspora outside of south Asia. “Tamil Canadians are gathering to mourn the loss of innocent civilians who have been killed in hostilities with the Sri Lankan government,” he said. “Indeed, we grieve with them for the deaths of innocents and the death of innocence, as well as for the ongoing violations of human rights and humanitarian law. “We in Canada have a particular nexus to this conflict,” he added. “First is an immediate ceasefire with a framework for a sustained and enduring end to hostilities, for while an immediate ceasefire is necessary, it is not enough. We need an accompanying framework to ensure that the ceasefire will be sustained and will endure. “Second, we need a return to the negotiating table for the mediation of a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka … (and) an equitable power sharing arrangement within the framework of a federalist orientation … Canada can play a particular role with respect both to the federalist framework and to the protection of minority rights within that federalist framework. “Third is that the Sri Lankan government must allow the free flow of humanitarian aid to the conflict zone and allow international aid workers unimpeded access to the affected areas. The fourth item is that journalists must be given and allowed unfettered access to the conflict area so that they can not only report on the current situation in the north and east but also determine the nature and scope of assaults on press freedom. “Fifth, all parties must be called upon to respect the rights of civilians in armed conflict and to adhere to human rights and humanitarian law norms, including ― and here I make this particular appeal to the Sri Lankan government ― ceasing and desisting from any targeting of civilians and protected persons and from targeting those in protected zones. “Sixth, we must support the call for the appointment of a United Nations special envoy for Sri Lanka to monitor and guard against abuses and to assist the peace process, as has been recommended by the United Nations itself, by the United States Department of State and by other international actors. “Finally, I have excerpts of letters of the past six U.S. ambassadors to Sri Lanka, which have been echoed in other international comments in that regard. They make the point that in fact, the major threat to democracy and the rule of law in Sri Lanka has not only been that which has come from the actions of the government or that which has come from the actions of the LTTE. “We need to appreciate the threats that come from those who wish to undermine constitutionalism, who seek to undermine the rule of law, who seek to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the proper functioning of public institutions. “In conclusion, we need to guard against the abuse of authority to destroy dissent. The concerns I cited above are the major causes of the serious deterioration of the rule of law, human rights and democracy in Sri Lanka. In concert with the government and the international community, there is a lot for us as a House to do to put an end to the suffering in Sri Lanka, to protect human security and to promote peace.”

Organizations: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tigers, House of Commons United Nations United States Department of State

Geographic location: Sri Lanka, Mount Royal, Canada Montreal Asia U.S.

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Recent comments

  • bharathy
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    Canada also take the responsibility for Tamils genocide in Sri lanka,because they ban LTTE as a terriost group and opened the door Sri lankan war crimes.

  • Kanesan Anand
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    Canada violates Geneva Convention by permitting Sri Lanka to commit slow-motion genocide. Canada is violating the 1948 convention for continuing to give "green light" to the Government of Sri Lanka to destroy the LTTE no matter what the cost to innocent Tamil civilians. On Monday the death toll of civilians at more than 3,200 killed that started this weekend. Canada banned LTTE on April 8, 2006. Now, either it should impose economic and political sanctions against Sri Lanka or life the ban on LTTE!

  • Vijay Raj
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    IF UN CAN'T DO SOMETHING TO THESE POOR SL BEGGERS, WHY UN? THERE SHOULD BE SOME OTHER WAY TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION AS CHINA,RUSSIA,OR INDIA NOT SUPPORTED.THESE ALL COUNTRIES HAVE SAME HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.This is a humanitatian issue,LIVES SHOULD BE SAFED BEFORE TOO LATE.GOSL BLOCKED FOOD,MEDICINE,EVEN WATER.BAN KI'S IRRESPONSIBLE ANSWERS LIKE HE SUPPORTS TO CHINA.Why Canada banned LTTE? as more than 300,000 TAMILS are living in Canada? CANADA REMOVE THE BAN ON LTTE, IF YOU CAN'T STOP KILLING TAMILS IN SL. DON'T GIVE ANY MONEY TO GOSL.

  • VJ Raj
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    MERCI MR.IRWIN COTLER POUR SUPPORTING TAMILS FREEDOM.IF UN CAN'T DO SOMETHING FOR THESE POOR SL BEGGERS,WHY UN? THERE SHOULD BE SOME OTHER ALTERNATIVE AS CHINA,RUSSIA OR INDIA NOT SUPPORTING AS THESE COUNTRIES DO SAME HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLAIONS, TO BRING THIS ISSUE IN UN.BAN KI'S IRRESPONSIBLE ANSWERS LIKE HE SUPPORTS TO CHINA.UN HAS LOT OF PROVES THAT GOSL MADE WAR CRIMES AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.UN SHOULD CONSIDER ONLY SOLUTIONS FOR TAMILS' IS "SELF DETERMINATION" OF "TAMIL EELAM".NO MORE UNITED SL.CANDA REMOVE THE BAN ON LTTE.

  • John
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    A good step forward. But looking at the history of Sri Lanka, I do not think that the SL Government would accept to give any political solution to the Tamils problem. They have been talking of Political Solution from the time of Independence but till this date they are still discussing. Being a canadian I am happy that I live in a country which respects human values. Look for example the status of Quebec. Can such thing happen in Sri Lanka. I doubt it very much. Are there any SL politition who would dare to address the Tamils issue in a way Canada addressed French concerns. None of the SL leaderes would do it.

  • Ruwan K
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    Please help us to heal our burning soul. We do not know what to do, please help us to keep our mind in peace. A massacre of this scale was predicted for months now after the Sri Lankan government evicted aid organizations, media groups and international monitors and embarked on a genocidal campaign to crush the Tamil populace under the pretext of defeating the Tamil Tigers. However, the international community has remained an inactive bystander repeating distant calls for a ceasefire to which the Sri Lankan military has responded with one massacre after another.

  • Narayanasamy Devanand
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    I will fully agreed with Mr. Irwin Cotler to call for ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Please speak out at house of commons about this issue and push Mr. Harper to do something urgently, because day by day Sri Lankan government killing more and more people. If we wait another week there might another 5000 people will be killed by Sri Lankan government. Gatineau, QC

  • ampanai
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    Canada has a responsibility! My country should take measures to protect Tamil civilians, as we pledged to do when adopted the “responsibility to protect” or "R2P" at the UN World Summit in 2005. At the core of this norm is the obligation to protect peoples from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, rather than waiting until atrocities have already occurred, as states have too often done in the past. There can be little doubt about either the magnitude, or the imminence, of the peril Tamil civilians now face in Sri Lanka. Why my country is ignoring its obligation?

  • Sonia
    February 17, 2010 - 14:18

    this is well said. if the government of sri lanka rejects this ceasefire call, like they have done for the past year, please sent in forces to teach the lankan president a lesson who is clearly involved in the genocide of tamils. Usa or Germany did not ASK FOR THE PERMISSION when they went to war, (with Iraq or in world war). You did not need the permission from sri lankan government for this also, sent in force and stop the genocide. Only this can stop this war, they think that a country has the right to do whatever to its civilians and other country can just sit and watch. please do something. everyday 100s of 100s of children are dying. these are my PEOPLE!! our blood are boiling to see our blood relatives and relatives die, die miserably losing limbs, again our blood boils when they tell lies to the world saying that they did not do it!!

  • bharathy
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    Canada also take the responsibility for Tamils genocide in Sri lanka,because they ban LTTE as a terriost group and opened the door Sri lankan war crimes.

  • Kanesan Anand
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    Canada violates Geneva Convention by permitting Sri Lanka to commit slow-motion genocide. Canada is violating the 1948 convention for continuing to give "green light" to the Government of Sri Lanka to destroy the LTTE no matter what the cost to innocent Tamil civilians. On Monday the death toll of civilians at more than 3,200 killed that started this weekend. Canada banned LTTE on April 8, 2006. Now, either it should impose economic and political sanctions against Sri Lanka or life the ban on LTTE!

  • Vijay Raj
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    IF UN CAN'T DO SOMETHING TO THESE POOR SL BEGGERS, WHY UN? THERE SHOULD BE SOME OTHER WAY TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION AS CHINA,RUSSIA,OR INDIA NOT SUPPORTED.THESE ALL COUNTRIES HAVE SAME HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.This is a humanitatian issue,LIVES SHOULD BE SAFED BEFORE TOO LATE.GOSL BLOCKED FOOD,MEDICINE,EVEN WATER.BAN KI'S IRRESPONSIBLE ANSWERS LIKE HE SUPPORTS TO CHINA.Why Canada banned LTTE? as more than 300,000 TAMILS are living in Canada? CANADA REMOVE THE BAN ON LTTE, IF YOU CAN'T STOP KILLING TAMILS IN SL. DON'T GIVE ANY MONEY TO GOSL.

  • VJ Raj
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    MERCI MR.IRWIN COTLER POUR SUPPORTING TAMILS FREEDOM.IF UN CAN'T DO SOMETHING FOR THESE POOR SL BEGGERS,WHY UN? THERE SHOULD BE SOME OTHER ALTERNATIVE AS CHINA,RUSSIA OR INDIA NOT SUPPORTING AS THESE COUNTRIES DO SAME HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLAIONS, TO BRING THIS ISSUE IN UN.BAN KI'S IRRESPONSIBLE ANSWERS LIKE HE SUPPORTS TO CHINA.UN HAS LOT OF PROVES THAT GOSL MADE WAR CRIMES AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.UN SHOULD CONSIDER ONLY SOLUTIONS FOR TAMILS' IS "SELF DETERMINATION" OF "TAMIL EELAM".NO MORE UNITED SL.CANDA REMOVE THE BAN ON LTTE.

  • Ruwan K
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    Please help us to heal our burning soul. We do not know what to do, please help us to keep our mind in peace. A massacre of this scale was predicted for months now after the Sri Lankan government evicted aid organizations, media groups and international monitors and embarked on a genocidal campaign to crush the Tamil populace under the pretext of defeating the Tamil Tigers. However, the international community has remained an inactive bystander repeating distant calls for a ceasefire to which the Sri Lankan military has responded with one massacre after another.

  • John
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    A good step forward. But looking at the history of Sri Lanka, I do not think that the SL Government would accept to give any political solution to the Tamils problem. They have been talking of Political Solution from the time of Independence but till this date they are still discussing. Being a canadian I am happy that I live in a country which respects human values. Look for example the status of Quebec. Can such thing happen in Sri Lanka. I doubt it very much. Are there any SL politition who would dare to address the Tamils issue in a way Canada addressed French concerns. None of the SL leaderes would do it.

  • Narayanasamy Devanand
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    I will fully agreed with Mr. Irwin Cotler to call for ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Please speak out at house of commons about this issue and push Mr. Harper to do something urgently, because day by day Sri Lankan government killing more and more people. If we wait another week there might another 5000 people will be killed by Sri Lankan government. Gatineau, QC

  • ampanai
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    Canada has a responsibility! My country should take measures to protect Tamil civilians, as we pledged to do when adopted the “responsibility to protect” or "R2P" at the UN World Summit in 2005. At the core of this norm is the obligation to protect peoples from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, rather than waiting until atrocities have already occurred, as states have too often done in the past. There can be little doubt about either the magnitude, or the imminence, of the peril Tamil civilians now face in Sri Lanka. Why my country is ignoring its obligation?

  • Sonia
    February 10, 2010 - 12:55

    this is well said. if the government of sri lanka rejects this ceasefire call, like they have done for the past year, please sent in forces to teach the lankan president a lesson who is clearly involved in the genocide of tamils. Usa or Germany did not ASK FOR THE PERMISSION when they went to war, (with Iraq or in world war). You did not need the permission from sri lankan government for this also, sent in force and stop the genocide. Only this can stop this war, they think that a country has the right to do whatever to its civilians and other country can just sit and watch. please do something. everyday 100s of 100s of children are dying. these are my PEOPLE!! our blood are boiling to see our blood relatives and relatives die, die miserably losing limbs, again our blood boils when they tell lies to the world saying that they did not do it!!