Patrick Brown Under Fire for Recognizing Genocide in Brampton
Several members of the Sri Lankan community gathered outside Brampton City Hall this week protesting Mayor Patrick Brown for his recognition of the Tamil Genocide during that country’s civil war, which lasted from 1983 and ended in 2009.These were members from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese community. who disputed that a genocide took place during Sri Lanka’s three decade long civil war. Their grievance stemmed from Brown’s long standing position of recognizing the Tamil genocide, a position that dates back to his time as Ontario PC leader and as a federal MP.
Brown and Brampton councillors recently passed a motion doing so. In Queen’s Park, Bill 104, entitled the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, was introduced by Tory MPP Vijay Thanigasalam (a Tamil Canadian). This bill seeks to mark May 18th every year as a day to remember the genocide and to provide education on the history of those events.— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) May 18, 2019
While the Tamil Canadian diaspora is one of the largest outside Sri Lanka, there is a substantial population that hails from the Sinhalese majority. Many of those in the crowd carried signs criticizing the Brampton mayor’s stance on recognizing the genocide.A flyer that was being circulated through the crowd entitled “The Truth Behind the Brampton City Proclamation” outlines why they believe the Tamil genocide never took place:
Genocide is defined as “Systematic measures for the extermination of a national cultural, religious or racial group” THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED IN SRI LANKA
The United Nations or any other country has NOT declared that Sri Lanka committed “Genocide” in 2009 (adding that the proclamation creates unnecessary tension between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Canada)
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is designated as a terrorist group by the FBI as ‘the most heinous of all terrorist groups, massacred thousands of innocent civilians and systematically killed both Tamil and Sinhala intellectuals and leaders.
This proclamation is a political trick towards getting Tamil Canadian votes, and at the same time, an act over which a city council or mayor has no legal authority.
The flyer says that Brown and Brampton councillors were grossly misinformed and that they should withdraw the city’s proclamation. An online petition from the “United Canadian Sri Lankans in Ontario” requested Brown and Toronto Mayor John Tory to amend the proclamations to reflect one passed in Ottawa recognizing that “all Sri Lankans perished in the 30 year long post colonial conflict.”
Brown has spoken on the issue of the Tamil genocide while he was in Ottawa and even more recently as of last year on advocating for the Tamil community in this brief interview below:
These days with such a diverse collection and mix of cultures in Canada it is inevitable that some grievances and long standing historical issues from ‘the old country’ would continue to foster here. Mayor Brown would not be the first politician accused of ‘pandering for votes’ in order to get reelected.
If you’re from the Sri Lankan community, we would love to hear from you. Do you think Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown should rescind the proclamation about recognizing the Tamil genocide in favour of one that acknowledged violence on all sides during the Sri Lankan civil war?
UPDATE: While most of the responses thus far fell in line with the view that Mayor Brown and Brampton council should ‘educate’ themselves more on the topic of the ‘alleged’ Tamil genocide, a number of those in the Tamil community seem fearful of giving more detailed accounts in fear of persecution back in Sri Lanka. One reader sent inbrampton.com an email about their own personal experience of persecution:
My grandmother died due to bombing by Sri Lankan arny while sitting in her veranda. We were notified about her death only a couple of days later but couldn’t return to do her last rites as we were fleeing for our lives. My
family, who had nothing to do with LTTE, had to flee our home with only the clothes on our back because the army was shooting any Tamil in sight. I was only around 5 years old when I had to witness the wounded and dead bodies of
Tamil people. We were starving and trying to find refuge anywhere and everywhere. I still remember sensing my parents fear as they were being unable to explain why there was no food, we could not go back to the comfort of our home or see our friends.
During the 1983 riot against Tamils, in the Sinhalese majority capital city of Colombo, Tamil businesses and homes were being raided and burned by Sri Lankan thugs sent by the government. My brother-in-law, who was born and
brought up in Colombo, had to hide with his family in chicken coops in the backyard of his Sinhalese neighbour’s house.
I am not mad at the Sinhalese people for claiming there was no genocide but I am very sad. Where is their humanity? Do they really know anything about the ruthless war other than what the media was allowed to publish? Do they
honestly think that media could write 100% truth without any consequences? What they have heard and are hearing now is what the Sri Lankan government wants them to believe. Trust me as a person who witnessed all of the above, I can tell you that the hatred against Tamils is real. There are many leaked videos on Channel 4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields where you can see the way the Tamils were ruthlessly treated.
That is why I along with other Tamil people owe it to Mayor Brown and all the councillors for acknowledging the genocide. The truth will always prevail!
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