Toronto – The eyes of children sometimes bear all the history of violence, oppression and death, which prompts them to make a difference and this is why the Tamil youth are participating in various organizations to inform and to protest international war crimes.
On Tuesday, more than 5,000 people partook in the memorial remembrance to commemorate the one-year civil war anniversary, which saw 40,000 civilians die, including women and children, and 50,000 more wounded. Despite disagreements or different viewpoints, Tamil youth stood in solidarity at Toronto’s Queen’s Park.
The message sent at Queen’s Park
After the numerous amounts of speeches delivered at the event, one would realize that youth, Tamil or not, are trying to raise awareness, fighting the fight, standing up for what they believe in and being passionate about an issue that is important to them.
One keynote speaker told Digital Journal after the event that some Tamil children suffer from mental health issues because of all the death, torture and mutilated bodies they witness. Another speaker addressed the crowd and urged the young people to go to the front because “we have been in the back for 30 years.”
Asking the young people at the event what the memorial meant to them, they all emphasized of how important the remembrance is and maybe one of the most influential occasions since last year’s rally on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.
What do the young people say?
“This is really close to me because how the international community never responded but we still know our community will come out in numbers to support and be unified to fight for what we feel is right and we will be free,” said one young female activist.
She further added how last year’s video, which showed Sri Lankan forces executing naked Tamils with blindfolds on, was authenticated by the United Nations and “is making people more aware and they’re saying that “oh, you guys were right, maybe we should’ve helped.”
In the end the activist hopes for an international investigation “for the war crimes committed” and feels this month’s transnational worldwide governmental elections will help form different democratic ways to help the Tamil people.
Wanting a sovereign Tamil state
“This event is to remember what happened last year,” said another young male activist. “The month of May we had all our people back home in Sri Lanka dying and this was caused by the officials and our people were dying and nobody stepped up.”
He went onto state that “we as Tamils need to step up.” The young activist said that on Remembrance Day we remember our soldiers and now we remember “our civilians” who are just “like us who died for land that we don’t even have anymore.”
In the end, says the young activist, all the Tamil people want is the Canadian government to push for an independent international inquiry on the violations of human rights, “I know in anywhere else around the world it wouldn’t be accepted, so why is it accepted in ours?”
One day he hopes for a sovereign Tamil state.
“Tamils have not given up”
Speaking to another activist, she says she was at the event to remember everything that was lost and “to restore and remind ourselves that we need to re-strengthen and keep moving forward.” She also feels that the Tamils have not only shown the world that “we have not given up” but the Tamils have “to show each other and keep each other motivated.”
The protester provided a brief history of the Tamil struggle and stated the Tamil people “have been discriminated against,” therefore, until the struggle ends “we are not going to give up,” which is why they are there today.