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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamils - a Trans State Nation: Pongu Thamizh in Tamil Eelam & Around the World

பொங்கு தமிழ் - Pongu Thamil, 2004
Canadian Tamil Students Association,  25 September 2004
We cannot be subdued
[see also Official Canadian Pongu Thamizh Website ]

TamilNet  Report, 25 September 2004 -  Record crowds throng Canada's Pongu Thamil

Associated Press Report, 25 September 2004 - Sri Lankan Tamils rally at Queen's Park; Demand Canada help Peace Process

Prof. V. Elagupillai At Pongu Thamil in Queen’s Park, Toronto

நன்றி: கனேடிய தமிழோசை வானொலி and Tamilnaatham

தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் அரசியல்துறைப் பொறுப்பாளர் சு.ப.தமிழ்ச்செல்வன் தொலைபேசி வழியாக மக்களுக்கு ஆற்றிய உரை

கலாநிதி இலகுப்பிள்ளை ஆற்றிய உர

கனேடிய முக்கியஸ்தர்கள் ஆற்றிய உரையின் ஒரு பகுதி

மட்டு. அம்பாறை அரசியல்துறைப் பொறுப்பாளர் கௌசல்யன் ஆற்றிய உரையின் ஒரு பகுதி

கனடா உலகத் தமிழர் இயக்க பொறுப்பாளர் நாவலன் ஆற்றிய உரையின் ஒரு பகுதி

Canada Pongu Thamil Photographs at Tamilnaatham

Eelam Nation, September 18, 2004 - 300,000-strong Thamil community has decided to organise ‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada


TamilNet, September 25, 2004 Report  - Record crowds throng Canada's Pongu Thamil -

"Canadian Tamil Radio (CTR) broadcasters estimated a record gathering of close to 75,000 people at the Pongu Thamil (Tamil uprising) event at Queens Park in Toronto Saturday afternoon. Addressing the Pongu Thamil gathering, Mr. Michael Prue, MPP for East York and Beaches said he has been a politician for 18 years, was born and raised in Toronto and that he has never seen a crowd like he saw today in the history of Queens Park lawn. Attendees at the event said two large LCD screens were organized for the overflow crowd to view the event.

Mr. Jack Layton, MP and Leader of New Democratic Party (NDP) said that stereotyping will not be tolerated in any form in Canada. Every citizen has equal right and has the right of enjoy all freedom equally and there are no second class citizens in Canada. He said he regretted the refusal of visa for the Tamil parliamentarians who wanted to come to Canada to participate in this occasion. He assured he would take up this matter with the appropriate authorities. "By all accounts Pongu Thamil has displayed growing political strength of Thamil Canadians and has eclipsed all previous events," a senior Tamil activist told TamilNet correspondent in Toronto.

Canadian Tamil Students Association is the driving force behind this event. "Thousands of students across the park clad in yellow T-shirts actively participated and helped in the smooth running of the event and all Tamils appreciated the efforts of our youths," said a caller to the CTR radio.

The student organizers said that the Pongu Thamil will urge,

1.the Government of Sri Lanka to recommence immediately peace talks on the basis of the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal submitted by the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE) without further prevarications or conditions.

2. the Canadian Government to pressure the GOSL to take forward the stalled peace process on the basis of the ISGA proposal, which has received the mandate of the Thamil people and the backing of the international community,

3. the Canadian Government to host the peace talks between the GOSL and LTTE in Canada as a practical demonstration of its support to the peace process, and the international community to understand and appreciate the hopes and genuine aspirations of the people of Thamil Eelam who have long been oppressed by majoritarian Sinhala dominated governments.

The Pongu Thamil celebrations was broadcast/telecast alive around the globe. CTR radio said that in Toronto area broadcasts were only available through the internet from 2pm when the Pongu Thamil event was scheduled to begin."


Associated Press Report, 25 September 2004 - Sri Lankan Tamils rally at Queen's Park; demand Canada help peace process

Canada is home to the largest Tamil population outside Sri Lanka - and India. Nearly 200,000 alone reside in the GTA. Organizers and attendants spoke passionately Saturday about the allegations of terrorism constantly dogging the Tamil Tigers, an organization viewed by some as freedom fighters. Ottawa has not officially banned the group, despite a 2003 request from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The Tamil Tigers are listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the RCMP has alleged that it has front groups in Canada that funnel vast amounts of money to fighters in Sri Lanka.

``It's a free country, we respect their right to express their opinions,'' said organizer Ashwin Balamohan, 21, adding the terror allegations are false. ``We're confident in what we're saying and that's why we're out here saying it in the open.''

The students' call to the Canadian government to play a large role in the Sri Lankan peace process was supported by many of the attendants at Saturday's rally. ``The government of Canada has always been in the forefront of peacemaking, and therefore we want them to be very involved,'' said Father Xavier Francis, 76. ``If the Tamils and the Sinhalese can meet in Oslo, if they can meet in Japan, why can't they meet in Ottawa or in Toronto?''  Canada has provided funds and advice in an effort to achieve a sustainable political solution to the long-standing conflict. Most recently, Canada funded an observer group to monitor Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections, which took place April 2.


Prof. V. Elagupillai At Pongu Thamil in Queen’s Park, Toronto

Members of the Tamil Students Association, Vicar General Fr. Emmanuel, Special Guests, Federal Provincial and Local Government authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honoured to be with you this evening at this historic Pongu Thamil Celebration at the Queens Park Grounds in our wonderful city of Toronto.I want to thank the members of the Canadian Tamil Students Association for the invitation.This celebration also marks the occasion of the "United Nations International Peace Day." The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed September 21st Day as International Peace Day. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, in his Peace Day Message, asked every nation in the world, every organization in the world to conduct activities appropriately to heighten the awareness of Peace Day.

Indeed, it is gratifying that the Canadian Tamil Students Association has taken upon itself the task of glorifying International Peace Day through the Tamil Awareness – Pongu Tamil Celebration. I salute our students for their initiatives. The choice of the venue for this celebration is also very appropriate. Toronto is the home of people originated from every part of the world. It is the most multi-ethnic city in the world. We can call Toronto the City of United Nations. Students, I congratulate you for the choice of this location, Queens Park.

May I also recall that this week is so special in more ways than one.

This is also the week in September of 1987 that a young man in his tender age gave his life by fasting in search of a lasting peace in Sri Lanka. This is the 17th Anniversary of Thiyagi Thileepan’s death. All he wanted was the genuine and peaceful implementation of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

It is also the week of the meeting of the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. World leaders are pouring into New York to talk about PEACE and actions for peace.It is also the week of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Bell, located on 42nd Street & 1st Avenue in New York.

On the aftermath of the Nuclear holocaust in Japan, students and children from 60 countries tirelessly collected coins for the promotion of Peace. These coins, weighing 116 kg was handed over to the 13th United Nations General Assembly held in Paris. The Assembly decided to melt this mass of coins and to make a bell – Peace Bell.

At the installation of the Peace Bell, the Secretary General said "This Bell – the Peace Bell – embodies the aspiration for Peace not only of the students who collected the coins, but of the people of the entire world" This Peace Bell is rung by the Secretary General on the 21st of every September.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me refresh what the greatest Statesman of this Century, Nelson Mandela said. He said "PEACE" is the product of justice. Peace must be achieved through justice. It must be a just peace. It cannot come out of barrels and postulations.
Peace is such a simple thing. It is very inexpensive. You do not need guns and tanks and Tomohawks, and billion-dollar budgets. Simply sitting together and by talking of hearts you can achieve so much. So why are we insensitive? For some, peace is so uneventful. It does not get into the news stories.

I would like to remind you what Jeremy Gilley, the founder of the International Peace Day, said.Gilley was a British Actor, Author, and a Peace Activist worked tirelessly for Peace Day. He was very excited that on September 07, 2001 the United Nations proclaimed the first Peace Day. Therefore, he was hoping to see front-page coverage in the media. So, the first anniversary came on September 21, 2002. He was watching for news coverage and the result was disappointing.

CNN – the King of Television News – Not a word.
The Giant of Newspapers, The New York Times – Not a word.
Many media believe that "Peace is Not Newsworthy."

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me turn my attention to Canada. Why is Pongu Thamil in Canada? The population of the Tamil Canadians in this country is nearly 300,000. This is the single largest Sri Lankan Tamil population outside Sri Lanka. The conflict in Sri Lanka has been going on for over 40 years. Thousands and thousands of people lost their lives, millions of dollars lost in property destroyed.

What is happening in Sri Lanka affects every man, woman and child and their friends. Many Canadians have their friends, relatives and loved ones still living in Sri Lanka. When my parents or my brothers or friends are in danger, fearing for their life, when my nephews and nieces do not have a school to go to or fear being bombed at their school, when my cousin does not have a house to live because his house was destroyed by aerial bombardment,

I am worried. I am very worried.  I do not have peace of mind. I cannot focus on my work. I do not feel like participating in any community or social events. My productivity at work diminishes. As a true Canadian, I am unable to contribute my full energy and enthusiasm to improve the quality of life of Canadians. This is unacceptable in a civilized society such as ours. Therefore, when lack of peace in Sri Lanka adversely affects more than 300,000 Canadians, then it is a Canadian issue.

Let me give you some statistics to justify why this is a Canadian issue.

What is the population Windsor, where our Prime Minister, Right Hon Paul Martin, was born? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the Canadian Tamil population. What is the population of Canada’s home of automakers - Oshawa? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the Canadian Tamil population. What is the population of the City of Ottawa, the seat of Power of the Great Canadian Confederation? Answer: 300,000 - Same as the Canadian Tamil population. What is the population of Prince Edward Island? Answer: 150,000 – Only 50% of Canadian Tamil population. What is the combined population of the three Canadian territories (Yukon, NWT and Nunuvet)? Answer: 100,000 - Only 30% of the Canadian Tamil population. What is the population of the Riding of – LaSalle – Emard, in Quebec? Answer:100,000 - Only 30% of the Canadian Tamil population.

Can we imagine the reactions and response of the governments at the Federal, Provincial and local levels if the entire population of a city, such as Windsor, Oshawa, or Ottawa were affected by an issue? Can we imagine the reaction of the federal government when the entire province of PEI and the three territories combined are affected? Can you understand the reaction of the Prime Minister when every man, woman and child in his riding of LaSalle-Emard is affected?

Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, Peace in Sri Lanka should be a primary concern to Canada. The Canadian government should take the lead and assist in facilitating peace in Sri Lanka. Every government has the moral responsibility to work for peace in Sri Lanka. I call upon our Prime Minister, Hon Paul Martin, to take an active role in promoting a lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Why? Because it affects a sizable proportion of Canadians.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

There were many peace talks in the past between the Sinhala and the Tamil Leadership, dating back more than 40 years. I do not want to go into details of these agreements and Pacts. You can read them in the web. There have been many agreements between the two parties, only to be torn apart or abrogated shortly after the agreements were hatched. Each successive government negotiated peace, and the party in opposition protested against the agreement. There was no determined will in the government of the day to implements those pacts.

Realizing the opposition party of the day usually ends up destroying the pact, as late as 1997, the British Deputy Foreign Minister Liam Fox had a bipartisan agreement to cooperate on peace signed between President Kumaratunge and the Ranil Wickramasinghe which was discarded after the government was dissolved. Now we have another historic opportunity in that the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe recently gave his unconditional support to President Chandrika Kumaratunge to start the peace talks once again. Also, we have a historic opportunity that the Government of Norway has undertaken to facilitate the Peace Talks.

Also another historic opportunity: The Tamil people gave a resounding message in the past General Election of April 2004, electing 22 Tamil National alliance members of Parliament. These MPs have a mandate from the people of the NorthEast to promote the Peace Talks under the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Let us not kid ourselves. The LTTE is the accepted leadership of the National struggle of the Tamil people. There is no peace without talking to the LTTE. That is why the Government of Norway has been having dialogue between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka.

A year ago the LTTE gave a set of guidelines for the start of the peace talks. These guidelines were known as the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) Proposals. In my judgment, it is a damn good basis to start the talks. I ask each and every one of you to read it. It is a very sensible proposal. This could be a sensible basis for negotiations. The Government of Sri Lanka should start the talks with Norway facilitation. The peace talks have been paralyzed for the past 2 years. Accusations and counter accusations are flowing excessively.

Why are we waiting? Each day of delay in achieving peace adds up to a toll on both sides of the divide. I ask the Canadian Prime Minister, Why are we waiting and what are we waiting for? Let us promote the Norway-facilitated peace talks.
Let us bring Peace to the hearts and minds of 300,000 Tamil Canadians and their friends.

Peace denied is justice denied. I ask the Canadian Tamil Community to work together with the Government of Canada in promoting peace in Sri Lanka.


Eelam Nation, September 18, 2004 - 300,000-strong Thamil community has decided to organise ‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada

"The 300,000-strong Thamil community has decided to organise ‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada despite all attempts to disrupt the event by anti-Thamil movements. Organisers of the ‘Pongu Thamil’ event in Canada said the event would take place as scheduled and the Canadian Thamil Students Association (CTSA) would organise a ‘Pongu Thamil’ demonstration on September 25th in front of the Ontario Provincial Parliament.

The aim of ‘Pongu Thamil’ in Canada is to convince the Canadian government to play a leading role in the ongoing peace process between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam to end the two-decade old war. ‘Pongu Thamil’ will urge the Canadian government to abandon its passive and unimaginative role for more active and inspiring one by offering Canada as a venue to host a round of the peace talks in Sri Lanka’s peace process.

The demonstration will highlight the importance of the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the northeast of Sri Lanka and call on Canada and the international community to recognise the ISGA and the urgency for implementing it.

The first series of ‘Pongu Thamil’ demonstrations were held by the Thamil students in the government controlled areas of northeastern Sri Lanka in 2001. They were a remarkable success despite of the climate of fear created by the Sri Lankan forces, which underscored the gravity of the situation and desperation that had descended upon the Thamils in northeast Sri Lanka and they even risked their lives and took to demonstrating.

Since the first series of the ‘Pongu Thamil’ several other similar demonstrations both by Thamils in Sri Lanka and by the Thamil diaspora.

The Canadian Thamils will show their solidarity with their relatives in Sri Lanka through the ‘Pongu Thamil’ on September 25, 2004 by participating in large numbers, said the organisers. The organisers said local Thamil organisations in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Winnipeg and Vancouver are making arrangements to bring people to Toronto to take part in this event. Thamil student associations in post-secondary institutions in Canada are also planning to bring students for this event as well, they added.
 

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