The 14th Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day in Cornwall on Thursday was also a first. It was public, at the bandshell in Lamoureux Park.
“It’s the first time we’ve held this outside,” said Manmathan Annalingam, explaining past remembrances have been held on much smaller scales in the past in Cornwall, usually in homes of residents.
Annalingam was one of dozens who participated, many spending hours at the site, and with more people able to join late in the afternoon when the more formal portion of the remembrance was held.
Thursday was also the first time the remembrance ceremonies were held across the country on what was officially Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day (May 18) in Canada; the motion was unanimously adopted by Parliament last year.
Last October, Canada joined international partners in adopting a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that calls on the Sri Lankan government to address the human rights, economic, and political crises in the country. The government imposed sanctions against four Sri Lankan government officials in response to human rights violations on the island in January.
Those are all good developments, said several who gathered at the Cornwall bandshell.
“We’re still fighting to get justice for what happened,” Annalingam said. “We want the world to acknowledge what happened.”
Annalingam said having the remembrance in a public space meant it led to more awareness; he said quite a few people who were walking in the park stopped by. Pamphlets were handed out, with information including that during the conflict over 146,000 Tamils were unaccounted for, over 80,000 were widowed, over 40,000 people were killed, and 25,000 children were orphaned.
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, with a population of 22 million, is an island country in South Asia, in the Indian Ocean just southwest of the Bay of Bengal, and less than 60 kilometres south of India. The Sinhalese people form the majority of the nation’s population, followed by the Tamils who are the largest minority group and are concentrated in northern Sri Lanka.