இவற்றிற்கான களஞ்சியம் 'Canada' வகை

Mar 03 2009

Tamil Tigers are liberators. They are not terrorists…The Tamil community, we are LTTE

Published by CAPitalZ under Canada, LTTE, Tamil Eelam, tamils

.
.
.

But one of those who attended the ceremony said the Tamil Tigers are liberators. They are not terrorists, the governments are terrorists,” John Antan Rajakumar said. “The Tamil community, we are LTTE,” he added, using the acronym for the Tigers.

.
.
.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1346013

One response so far

Jul 18 2007

[National Post] It is not a crime yet in Canada to say you’re in favour of a group that may be terrorist

Published by CAPitalZ under Canada, LTTE, Tamil Eelam, Terrorism, tamils

World Tamil movement; Considers Sri Lankan guerrillas to be ‘freedom fighters’

 

Graeme Hamilton, National Post

Published: Friday, May 18, 2007

MONTREAL – The head of an organization that is suspected of funding the Tamil Tigers terrorist group has testified that he considers the Tigers “freedom fighters” and he supports their “activities that would benefit the people.” But he denied that his organization, the World Tamil Movement, has sent money to the Sri Lankan guerillas.

In Quebec Court testimony that concluded yesterday, Kathiravelupillai Sithamparanathan, the 84-year-old president of the World Tamil Movement’s Montreal office, acknowledged attending a 2004 workshop in Sri Lanka organized by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers.Mr. Sithamparanathan said he could not refuse the Tigers’ invitation to attend a Seminar for Foreign Activists during a trip to his native Sri Lanka in July 2004. “They wanted to meet me because they were impressed that a person my age was doing many things … to help my community here,” he said through an interpreter.

He acknowledged that on one day of the seminar he was given the honour of hoisting the red Tamil Tiger flag, which features a snarling tiger over two crossed rifles. “Many people forced me to do that, and I couldn’t refuse,” he said.

Steven Slimovtich, the lawyer for the World Tamil Movement, said his clients are not accused of any crime, and the prolonged investigation is causing them prejudice because their regular activities have been interrupted.

“It is not a crime yet in Canada to say you’re in favour of a group that may be terrorist. What is a crime is to finance a terrorist group,” he told the court.

“The government has ostensibly closed down this community, cultural, social, sports organization. They cannot function.”

[email protected]

Source:

Tamil leader denies funding terrorist group

One response so far

Feb 23 2007

[San Francisco Chronicle] Crossing from USA to Canada?

Published by CAPitalZ under Canada, San Francisco Chronicle, US

C.W. NEVIUS


There was a time not long ago when a trip across the border from the United States to Canada was accomplished with a wink and a wave of a driver’s license. Those days are over.

Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”

Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”

Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.

There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.

In 1975.

Welcome to the new world of border security. Unsuspecting Americans are turning up at the Canadian border expecting clear sailing, only to find that their past — sometimes their distant past — is suddenly an issue.

While Canada officially has barred travelers convicted of criminal offenses for years, attorneys say post-9/11 information-gathering, combined with a sweeping agreement between Canada and the United States to share data, has resulted in a spike in phone calls from concerned travelers.

They are shocked to hear that the sins of their youth might keep them out of Canada. But what they don’t know is that this is just the beginning. Soon other nations will be able to look into your past when you want to travel there.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” said Chris Cannon, an attorney representing the East Bay couple, who asked that their names not be used because they don’t want their kids to know about the pot rap. “It’s a disaster. I mean, who didn’t smoke pot in the ’70s?”

We’re about to find out. And don’t think you are in the clear if you never inhaled. Ever get nabbed for a DUI? How about shoplifting? Turn around. You aren’t getting in.

“From the time that you turn 18, everything is in the system,” says Lucy Perillo, whose Canada Border Crossing Service in Winnipeg, Manitoba, helps Americans get into the country.

Canadian attorney David Lesperance, an expert on customs and immigration, says he had a client who was involved in a fraternity prank 20 years ago. He was on a scavenger hunt, and the assignment was to steal something from a Piggly Wiggly supermarket. He got caught, paid a small fine and was ordered to sweep the police station parking lot.

He thought it was all forgotten. And it was, until he tried to cross the border.

The official word from the Canadian Border Services Agency is that this is nothing more than business as usual. Spokesman Derek Mellon gets a little huffy when asked why the border has become so strict.

“I think it is important to understand that you are entering another country,” Mellon says. “You are not crossing the street.”

OK, but something changed here, didn’t it?

“People say, ‘I’ve been going to Canada for 20 years and never had a problem,’ ” Lesperance says. “It’s classic. I say, ‘Well, you’ve been getting away with it for 20 years.’ ”

A prior record has always made it difficult to cross the border. What you probably didn’t know was that, as the Canadian Consulate’s Web site says, “Driving while under the influence of alcohol is regarded as an extremely serious offense in Canada.”

So it isn’t as if rules have stiffened. But what has changed is the way the information is gathered. In the wake of 9/11, Canada and the United States formed a partnership that has dramatically increased what Lesperance calls “the data mining” system at the border.

The Smart Border Action Plan, as it is known, combines Canadian intelligence with extensive U.S. Homeland Security information. The partnership began in 2002, but it wasn’t until recently that the system was refined.

“They can call up anything that your state trooper in Iowa can,” Lesperance says. “As Canadians and Americans have begun cooperating, all those indiscretions from the ’60s are going to come back and haunt us.”

Now, there’s a scary thought. But the irony of the East Bay couple’s situation is inescapable. Since their rowdy days in the ’70s, they have created and sold a publishing company, purchased extensive real estate holdings and own a $3 million getaway home in Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve done pretty well since those days,” she says. “But what I wonder is how many other people might be affected.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency says its statistics don’t show an increase in the number of travelers turned back. But Cannon says that’s because the “data mining” has just begun to pick up momentum.

“It is too new to say,” he says. “Put it this way. I am one lawyer in San Francisco, and I’ve had four of these cases in the last two years, two since January. And remember, a lot of people don’t want to talk about it (because of embarrassment).”

Asked if there were more cases, attorney Lesperance was emphatic.

“Oh, yeah,” he says. “Just the number of calls I get has gone up. If we factor in the greater ability to discover these cases, it is just mathematically logical that we are going to see more.”

The lesson, the attorneys say, is that if you must travel to Canada, you should apply for “a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation” to wipe the record clear.

Oh, and by the way, if you don’t need to travel to Canada, don’t think you won’t need to clear your record. Lesperance says it is just a matter of time before agreements are signed with governments in destinations like Japan, Indonesia and Europe.

“This,” Lesperance says, “is just the edge of the wedge.”

Who would have thought a single, crazy night in college would follow you around the world?


Rules for gettinginto CanadaFor more information on offenses that prohibit entry to Canada, go to the Canadian Consulate’s Web site at geo.international.gc.ca/can-am/seattle/visas/inadmissible-en.asp.

For more information on visiting Canada, go to cic.gc.ca.

Sources:

This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Going to Canada? Check your past

2 responses so far

Oct 01 2006

Executive director of the Panos Canada disagrees with Canada’s decision to add the LTTE to its terrorism list

The streets of Jaffna were lined with government soldiers. Posted every 50 metres, leaning up against pockmarked walls, or standing in the thin shadow of a tree in the blazing sun. They rode slowly by on bicycles, in the back of tractor trailers, and cruised past in truck convoys.

Within months of this early summer scene, the uneasy calm would erupt into open battle with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE).

There were checkpoints all the way from Jaffna town southeast to the peninsula’s narrow Elephant Pass. Since 1998, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has had control of the Jaffna Peninsula, which curves toward India from the northern tip of this teardrop-shaped island. In a fierce but failed 2001 attempt to retake the area—the traditional heartland of Tamil culture—the LTTE wrestled away the strategic pass. The group also controls a swath of land directly below the peninsula, stretching across the north and down the east coast of Sri Lanka, effectively cutting off land access to Jaffna from government-controlled areas to the south.

Once through the buffer zone—maintained by the International Committee of the Red Cross just above the pass—and into LTTE territory, the government soldiers disappeared.

But there were LTTE “immigration officers” who checked my passport and read the letter of invitation from the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), which provides humanitarian services in LTTE areas. And there was a young woman in a smart blue-and-white uniform who searched my bag thoroughly—a customs officer for a country that does not exist.

We passed a Tamil Eelam district court, a school, and a police station before arriving in Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the LTTE’s unofficial northern state within a state.

Although the Tigers call themselves freedom fighters, the rest of the world is increasingly labelling them terrorists. In a recent diplomatic blow, the European Union (EU) banned the organization, freezing its financial assets and barring it from fundraising. Canada, which has the largest expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil population in the world, added the group to its terrorism list in April. A brief news flash in Canada, the listing caused considerable consternation and rejoicing in Sri Lanka.

Countries such as India, Britain, and the U.S. banned the Tamil Tigers to prevent them from collecting money for military purposes among the Tamil diaspora.

Banning the LTTE was widely rejected among Tamil-Canadians and opposed by some security experts. Others welcomed the move as a sign that the new Conservative-led government was finally taking a hard line in the war on terrorism.

The LTTE says the terrorist label will undermine the peace process and block much-needed contributions to the TRO. The group retaliated by demanding the removal of 37 international ceasefire monitors from three EU countries, stationed there since the February 2002 signing of a “permanent” ceasefire agreement.

On a quiet night on the front porch of his Kilinochchi home, spokesman Thaya Master explained the LTTE’s position.

“The ceasefire agreement was signed between two equal parts: the LTTE and the government,” he said. “Now they put a ban on the LTTE. It’s a one-sided story. It’s not balanced, so how can we proceed with the peace process?”

What about LTTE tactics that led to the terrorist designation, like the use of suicide bombers?

“We have a suicide group, that’s true,” Master said, but he insisted the practice is justified as part of a military strategy.

It’s a fine distinction, which becomes even more blurred when the LTTE assassinates a head of state like former Indian prime minister Rajiv Ghandi.

A history of bad judgments fuels argument against the LTTE’s claims that it is a legitimate government: in 1990 the group, mostly Hindu, chased the minority Muslim population out of the Jaffna Peninsula; it also recruits child soldiers and kills civilians.

Jon Tinker, executive director of the Vancouver-based research group Panos Canada—which describes itself as an NGO devoted to working on issues of human security, pluralism, and peace-building—said he deplores some LTTE tactics but he still disagrees with Canada’s decision to add the group to its terrorism list.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the LTTE has carried out forms of political violence that many people think of as outrageous, but the same can be said of the Sri Lanka Army,” Tinker said during an interview at his UBC office.

The overarching question, according to Tinker—who is writing a book on terrorism and diasporas—is how one defines a terrorist.

“The rhetoric of the war on terror makes it easy to make glib judgments that one form of political violence is justified and another is not justified,” he said. “One of the biggest weaknesses of most definitions of terrorism is they exclude actions by the state.”

Such narrow definitions are out of touch with real-life experiences in a conflict zone, he argued.

“Whether it’s a tank rolling through Jaffna firing tank shells, or a bomb being detonated, the result is the same: people are blown to pieces,” said Tinker, who questioned the utility of “stigmatizing” one party with the terrorism label during critical peace negotiations.

Martin Collacott, Canada’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka from 1982 to 1986, argues the opposite.

“By not getting tough on them, particularly by letting them continue to raise funds in Canada, you take the responsibility for enabling the civil war to continue, because we were probably their biggest source of external funds,” said Collacott, now a fellow at the right-wing Fraser Institute in Vancouver, on the line from Ottawa. “As some people have put it, we have blood on our hands.”

The recent meltdown of the ceasefire agreement has been accompanied by finger-pointing on both sides.

There had been violations almost daily for months, but on June 15 tensions were ratcheted up when 64 people were killed in a bus explosion in central Sri Lanka. Most passengers were Sinhalese Buddhists, who make up the majority of the country’s population.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lankan forces have fought for years to control the Jaffna Peninsula, which is the centre of Tamil culture. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lankan forces have fought for years to control the Jaffna Peninsula, which is the centre of Tamil culture.

The government blamed the rebels, and fighter jets strafed LTTE positions. By June 19, the LTTE and the SLA were exchanging heavy-weapons fire on the Jaffna Peninsula, which eventually opened up into another front in what some are calling a war.

The LTTE denied responsibility for the bus attack, blaming the government or forces backed by the government. Like so many events in Sri Lanka’s more than two-decades-long conflict, the details of the incident are sketchy and the facts murky. But the war is real enough, as is the poverty and displacement it creates.

In the town of Visvamadu, Tamil Tigers with drawn guns march in front of the flag-draped coffin of one of their peers, who was killed in a firefight with the Sri Lanka Army. Jared Ferrie photo.

In the village of Visvamadu, a funeral for an LTTE cadre killed in a firefight the day before blocked the road. A marching band of teenage girls led the procession, white dress uniforms shining in the midday sun.

At the graveyard, a thousand identical concrete graves splayed out around a monument, and an LTTE flag—a snarling tiger—flew at half-mast. The LTTE is big on monuments.

On our way to the coast, women sat in the schoolyard of each community, receiving arms training from female LTTE cadres. Large wooden clubs substituted for guns. The village men trained in the morning, I was told.

In Mullaittivu, houses were going up amongst rubble left by the 2004 tsunami, each one stamped with the TRO logo next to the door. Contributions from overseas Tamils as well as funding from foreign governments are paying to rebuild this quiet fishing community on the northeast coast. But 17 months after the tsunami, many people were still living in temporary camps, and construction was coming to a standstill as the government blockaded building supplies for fear, it said, that the LTTE might build new fortifications.

Soosaipillai Arasarednam worried that the tarp and thatch roof over his temporary home wouldn’t make it through another monsoon season.

Tigers’ spokesman Master claimed that preventing groups connected to the LTTE from raising money will undermine attempts to help victims of the tsunami and the conflict.

“It will affect the humanitarian work,” he said. “People will be reluctant to give money because of the ban.”

Lawrence Christie, the TRO’s planning director, was more optimistic about the issue. “I think the Canadian government will behave in a humanitarian manner, because it’s a humanitarian issue,” he said.

Inland, on the outskirts of Kilinochchi, children left homeless by the tsunami, war, and poverty live and study at a TRO-run home.

One corner of the young children’s quarters was reserved for those who arrived malnourished. They lay in bed listlessly as the healthy children pranced around, finally sending us off with a rendition of “Itsy-bitsy Spider,” first in English, then in Tamil.

Christie said that financial contributions from Canadian Tamils support children between ages six and 12 in the TRO home. The diaspora is the TRO’s most important source of money, according to Christie, and prospects would be grim if these funds dried up.

“If the Canadian government wants to starve the people and let them die…” he trailed off.

In fact, the government of Canada has a long history of delivering aid to LTTE areas. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) contributes to TRO-run programs, including demining the fields around Kilinochchi and manufacturing prosthetic legs for mine victims.

This work will continue despite the listing, according to CIDA.

“CIDA and its partners in Sri Lanka do not provide resources directly to the LTTE,” said spokeswoman Bronwen Cruden in a phone interview from Ottawa. “We carry out [activities] with the necessary diligence to continue to ensure that no CIDA funds are diverted to the LTTE.”

The Fraser Institute’s Collacott finds little reassurance in such reasoning.

“If an aid-delivery organization is identified closely with the Tamil Tigers, that would give me problems,” he said. “We’re in effect strengthening the Tigers’ hold and the ability to establish itself through that means.”

For Panos Canada’s Tinker, the same argument could be made for cutting off aid to projects run by the government of Sri Lanka.

“That cannot fail to be strengthening the ability of the Sri Lankan government to pursue this conflict,” he pointed out.

Whether listing the LTTE as a terrorist group will actually have any effect on its ability to fundraise in Canada is an open question. Although Canadians now face a possible 10 years in prison for knowingly contributing money to the LTTE through front groups, the government has yet to list any such groups.

Collacott said the government should take the next step and name them. He deplored the soft approach the Liberals took with the LTTE, accusing them of refusing to crack down because of substantial LTTE support in the Tamil-Canadian community.

“The Liberals were getting so much electoral support from Tamil Tiger supporters that they were not ever going to designate them as a terrorist group,” he said. “For anyone criticizing the Liberal government, they were a punching bag on this issue, because it was so obvious they should designate them a terrorist group and they just refused to.”

There are approximately 300,000 Tamils in Canada. About two thirds live in the Greater Toronto Area, where they form an important voting block in 10 ridings.

Collacott’s argument was brought forward in Parliament in 2000 by Conservative MP Monte Solberg (now Citizenship and Immigration Minister), who slammed then–finance minister Paul Martin for attending a fundraising dinner for the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, which supposedly had ties to the LTTE.

“To condemn these people, to call them terrorists, is anti-Canadian,” Martin responded in the House. “There is Irish blood coursing through my veins, but that doesn’t mean I am a member of the IRA.”

The Liberals defended their policy by claiming that listing the LTTE as terrorists would undermine peace negotiations. (The already troubled negotiations would take a nose dive after Canada and the EU listed the group.)

When the Tories banned the Tigers, the National Post applauded the government. “Now, the Tories have placed national security above partisan interests,” the newspaper said in an April 8 editorial. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day called the move “long overdue”.

But even if the government were to revert to Liberal hands, the LTTE’s standing in Canada might not improve. Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff supports the ban, especially in light of a Human Rights Watch report this past spring detailing alleged LTTE extortion of Tamil-Canadians.

“It doesn’t matter much to me what’s going on in Sri Lanka. What matters to me is that Canadian citizens should never be intimidated or threatened by a political movement, period,” Ignatieff told the Straight in May when in Vancouver for a Liberal leadership forum. “Let me also make it clear that I am aware that the Sri Lankan government authorities are also guilty of human-rights abuses,” he added.

Tinker pointed out that the LTTE has never engaged in acts that could be considered terrorism outside of Sri Lanka or India, which had militarily intervened on the Sri Lankan government’s side at the time. And the charges of extorting Canadians are best left to the courts, he argued.

“If the picture that Human Rights Watch is painting is true, then the police forces have been somewhat underzealous in protecting the interests of Tamil-Canadians,” he said.

The Conservatives’ decision to categorize domestic police concerns as international terrorism points to a larger political current, Tinker suggested: “It’s one of a number of worrying signs that this administration is more willing than the last one to give an unthinking endorsement to the U.S. government’s concept of the war on terrorism.”

Master claimed that the charges of intimidation were drummed up by anti-LTTE elements in Canada. “We are not a terrorist group,” he insisted. “We have been fighting for the Tamil peoples’ rights for the past 20 years.”

Collacott was in Sri Lanka two decades ago when the civil war began with the LTTE’s killing of 13 high-ranking Sinhalese police officers. In retaliation, some Sinhalese in Colombo began killing Tamils and looting their homes and businesses. The atrocities drove many Tamils into the arms of the LTTE, which had previously been one of a number of somewhat obscure armed groups.

The riots also drove Tamils to other countries, including Canada, which opened up a special immigration program, Collacott recalled. “I was also, interestingly, a hero of the Tamils because I was the first head of mission to go up to Jaffna after the riots broke out,” he remembered.

Collacott met with the LTTE in his hotel room, but even then he had no illusions about the nature of the organization, he said. “It had already established itself as a terrorist organization in terms of assassinating moderate Tamils,” he claimed. “It certainly assassinated a lot of my moderate Tamil friends after that.”

Government forces used equally horrifying tactics, including death squads, as war raged on. And other factions committed further atrocities. More than 64,000 people died before a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement in 2002.

But the agreement signed by the government and the LTTE “has broken down in all but name”, according to a June 5 report by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“There is a serious danger that they are drifting back to an overt war, which is likely to be even bloodier than the last one,” the Centre warned.

The picture would darken even further. On August 14, government jets bombed a Tamil orphanage in the northeast, saying it was a training ground for child soldiers—a claim denied by the UN. When 17 humanitarian workers were massacred on August 7 in the northeastern town of Mutter, the UN and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission pointed the finger at government troops. The government denies the allegation.

In early June, Mahendren Rajthungam, the advertising manager of Uthayan, a Tamil-language newspaper in Jaffna, told me that conditions on the peninsula were almost as bad as before the ceasefire.

“It’s all gone in a circle,” he said, pointing to rising food and fuel costs, a stagnating economy, frustration about living under military occupation, and increasing violence. Just a month earlier, gunmen had burst into the newspaper’s offices and opened fire, killing two employees and seriously wounding the editor.

The government blamed “armed terrorists”, while groups like Reporters Without Borders pointed to the pro-government Eelam People’s Democratic Party, noting that the newspaper had carried a cartoon of the party’s leader the previous day.

Rajthungam declined to speculate on the reasons for the attack or who was responsible.

“Jaffna is a land of controversy,” he said simply.

Some say terror label prolongs Sri Lanka war

No responses yet

Sep 27 2006

Avoid “Made in Sri Lanka” Products

Published by CAPitalZ under Canada, Tamil Eelam, tamils

Remember we can make a difference.

  • Avoid investment in Sinhala areas
  • Avoid Air Lanka (Sri Lankan Airlines), if you can
  • Buy alternate to those made in Sri Lanka
  • Avoid “Made in Sri Lanka” products
  • Don’t save any money in Srilankan banks [save money in foreign banks (ie.HSBC) in Colombo]
  • Don’t buy any textile items that produced in SL
  • Encourage buying items that produced in Tamileelam and shipped via Srilanka (Eg. Palm related products)
  • Allow groceries from SL if it is cheap. Otherwise, try to get it from India especially Tamil Nada
  • Discourage buying juice items (elephant brand soda), soap (lux, etc), biscuits from SL
  • Ask companies not to carry “Made in Sri Lanka” textiles
  • Ask Tamil stores to carry alternate, yet competitive products

Introduction

The Human rights situation in Sri Lanka is getting worse with each passing day. Tamil civilians including men, women, children and the sick and elderly are being killed or seriously injured by the hundreds and thousands respectively.

Two weeks of aerial bombing in July and August of 2006 by the Sri Lanka military have left hundreds of Tamil Civilians killed in different parts of the northeast. Over 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

In August 2006, 17 Tamil workers with a French aid agency were killed execution style by the Sri Lanka military and its agents. And Sri Lanka aerial strikes have killed 55 people, including 51 girls in an orphanage run by Tamils.

As AFP news agency has argued, “The Government maintained it targeted an LTTE military training center but the monitors found no evidence the victims were combatants or undergoing military training.

It is very clear that the Sri Lanka government and military are guilty of war crime, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. They should be strongly condemned by the United Nations and ordinary people. They should be tried by some war crimes tribunal.

This pre-meditated genocide against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka must be fought most vigorously on all fronts. Tamils in India and those in Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, East Africa and other parts of the world – in short, the Tamil Diaspora in the world – must stand up to help stop this genocide. So should all other people throughout the world who love the sanctity of human life and respect human rights and peace.
Take Action and Boycott

Join with people around the world who have decided not to allow their money to help maintain the world’s most violent and abusive regime – Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s myriad human rights abuses against Tamil people and its repression in Eelam.

Do consumers have a moral responsibility to boycott ‘Made in Sri Lanka products and services? And, if so, why should consumers care about how their purchase money is used by the Sri Lanka’s government? Here’s why:

Probably one of the most underused but powerful weapons individuals have to effect political and social change in our consumer-driven world is their purchasing power. It has been underused because the correlation between “shopping” and political freedom is not an immediate one to most people.

Yet, economic boycotts have, on the whole, an impressive success record: Gandhi’s Swadeshi campaign to rid India of British colonial rule; the boycott and international sanctions against the white South African regime to end apartheid; the imposition of economic sanctions and penalties on Poland by the West that contributed to the downfall of the Communist regime; and the worldwide campaign for shareholder pressure that forced a number of Western companies to withdraw from Burma.

Do we really have a moral responsibility towards the Tamil people of Eelam who live under Sri Lanka’s military occupation?

Even a partial review of Sri Lanka’s myriad crimes against humanity provides sufficient reason for any morally conscious person not to buy ‘Made in Sri Lanka.’ For example, for each purchase that you make, you are funding, promoting or endorsing:

§ the suppression of democracy and freedom

§ Extrajudicial killing and disappearances

§ denial of basic rights to Tamil workers, fishermen and farmers

§ sweeping and brutal repression of all religions

§ criminal psychiatric abuse of Tamil prisoners

§ routine torture of Tamil prisoners

§ military occupation and genocide in Eelam

§ military expansion and aggression

Canada and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade with Canada being the balance of trade between two countries to remain in favour of Sri Lanka, meaning more imports from Sri Lanka than export from Canada.

Clothing and textiles continued to dominate over 50 per cent in the composition of Sri Lanka’s exports to Canada with most popular categories being shirts, blouses, athletic wear, knitted and crocheted overcoats, anorakes, outerwear, trousers and gloves. The contribution from rubber and rubber products amounted to 15 per cent of total earnings.

Tea is the third important export item to Canada. Exports of tea to Canada amounted to 7 per cent of total earnings, Sri Lanka was able to maintain her market share of 10 per cent in the Canadian tea market in 2000 as well. Sri Lanka is the largest supplier of tea to Canada out of producing countries and it is evident from the figures set out below.

Sri Lankan tea exporters have been successful in establishing few brand names in the Canadian market such as Mlesna, Dilmah etc. Sri Lanka tea bags are making a strong presence in the tea bags sector in the recent years. With more advertisement and brand promotion, Sri Lanka will be able to increase her market share in the tea bag sector, as well.

Other items that feature among the exports from Sri Lanka to Canada include mainly leather products, footwear, ceramic and porcelain products, toys, sports goods spices, gems and jewellery and coconut products. The main items of imports from Canada to Sri Lanka are wheat, fertilizer, paper & paper board, chemicals, lentils, printed books, electrical machinery and parts, asbestos pharmaceutical products.

Canadian companies have invested in Sri Lanka in the areas of telecommunications (Lanka Bell; joint venture with Bell Canada), satellite projects, mini hydro power generators and housing projects and manufacture of treted rubber wood, with a total investment of approximately US $ 140 million in the recent past. In addition to the above, Canada Sri Lanka Capital Corporation in Vancouver has signed an MOU with Southern Development Authority to form a joint venture partnership in the field of agro-forestry. The other possible areas for Canadian investments in Sri Lanka include, infrastructure development, the construction of roads, bridges etc, thrust industry sectors such as ceramics and glassware, rubber based products, light and heavy engineering and computer engineering.

Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank), a leading Canadian Bank has opened a branch in Colombo.

One response so far

Next »