Canadians mourn loss of Pararajasingham
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 January 2006, 06:41 GMT]
Canada’s Minister of Defence and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham, together with four parliamentarians from the Canadian Government, five representatives from the opposition and a number of Canadian Human Rights and Peace activists joined the expatriate Tamil community in Toronto, on Monday, to mourn and pay tribute to "Mamanithar" Joseph Pararajasingam, the senior Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian who was slain at Batticaloa St. Mary's Church on Christmas Day. "Joseph Pararajasingham was a man of peace, but he also a man of steely determination, of great courage, a man who was willing to risk his life for his people," the Canadian Defence Minister said in his tribute.
Canadian Defence Minister, Bill Graham and Maria Minna paying tribute to the slain Tamil politician Joseph Pararajasingham at the St. Columba Church in Toronto
Canadian Defence Minister Bill Graham
Bill Graham, the Canadian Defence Minister, and Jim Karygiannis, Member of the Canadian Parliament and Secretary of State
Marilyn Churley from New Democratic Party
The memorial, organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress, took place at St. Columba Church in Toronto Monday night.
Minister Graham, who had met Pararajasingham on two occasions, called on the audience to dedicate their lives to the memory of Joseph Pararajasingham and to bring peace and justice that he had strived to achieve for his people during his life.
Also speaking was Member of the Canadian Parliament and Secretary of State, Jim Karygiannis, who had visited Sri Lanka following the tsunami disaster.
Maria Minna who had led a multi party Canadian parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka also addressed the audience at the memorial event attended by officials of all three levels of governments, the federal, provincial and municipal.
Member of Provincial Parliament and current federal candidate for the NDP, Marilyn Churley and Toronto Municipal councillor Raymond Cho also spoke.
Other Liberal party parliamentarians who addressed at the event were Mario Silva and John Cannis. The opposition Conservative party representatives, Tim Dobson and Bill Redwood also addressed the audience.
Candidates from the three major parties made commitments at the event to Tamil community leaders that they will go on a fact finding mission to the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka in the near future.
The event included prayers and songs in tribute to Pararajasingham.
Pararajasingham’s niece, Shenuka Thanaraj, described the loss of her uncle as not just a loss to her family, but one to the Tamil nation.
Speakers from the Tamil community included Mathuram Thambinayagam, President of the Tamil Catholic Community of Toronto, Electoral Candidates Vince Veerasuntharam from the Conservative Party and David Thomas from the New Democratic Party, and Kalatharan, a representative of the Canadian Tamil Media Forum and Executive Director of Canadian Tamil Radio (CTR).
The Canadian Tamil Congress passed a resolution urging all four federal party leaders in Canada to:
- Unequivocally condemn the murder of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham and call for an independent investigation into the murder
- Call for a transparent and internationally monitored mechanism to ensure that the Sri Lankan state brings those responsible to for the crime to justice
- Exert maximum pressure on the Sri Lankan state to disarm all paramilitary units operating in the North and East as stipulated in the Ceasefire Agreement
- Enact punitive measures again the Sri Lankan state should it fail to cooperate or follow through with the above two measures
- Emphasize the urgent need to arrest the deteriorating situation in the North and East of Sri Lanka and pursue peace through negotiations
Canada holds the largest expatriate Tamil community, numbering around 300 000, outside the Indian subcontinent.