CANADIAN TAMILS REACT TO SLAYING OF 15 AID WORKERS IN SRI LANKA

August 7th, 2006

Attention: News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO, MEDIA ADVISORY—(CCNMatthews - Aug. 7, 2006) - Canadian Tamils are outraged and disheartened by the unearthing of a brutal slaying that exposed 15 murdered Tamil aid workers in Sri Lanka today.

A dispute with the Sri Lankan government over water supplies led to the senseless killing of 15 Tamil civilians who were doing post-tsunami relief work in the seaside town of Mutur. Although the murders took place on Saturday, the Sri Lankan government prevented any humanitarian agencies from entering Mutur for two days following the killings.

“The barbarity of these acts defies imagination,” said Julian Francis, Ottawa Area Coordinator for the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC). “It’s the saddest possible reminder that Sri Lanka is not a safe place to be a Tamil. What kind of country, what kind of government, could let this happen to its citizens - to humanitarian workers no less?”

Francis repeated calls for the Canadian federal government to take several steps to help promote peace in Sri Lanka and raised concerns about the safety of Canadian aid workers in the region. Last month the CTC made three simple requests that, if enacted, would allow Canada’s government to become a leading catalyst for peace in the region. The proposals include hiring an independent human-rights observer to work at the Canadian embassy in Colombo.

“This observer would be neutral, would document abuses on both sides and would help draw international attention to outrageous acts like the one witnessed today,” noted Francis.

The CTC also wants Ottawa to call in Sri Lanka’s ambassador and explain in the strongest possible diplomatic terms that this country expects progress in peace talks. Finally, Tamils would like to see Ottawa work with NGOs to help monitor the flow of foreign aid money into Sri Lanka to ensure it is being equitably distributed to Tamil-populated areas. The CTC, which has 10,000 members across Canada, is an advocacy and support group for Canadian Tamils.

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IN: INTERNATIONAL, JUSTICE, POLITICS, SOCIAL

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