Canadian Tamil concludes fast, urges Canada to exert pressure on Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Monday, 23 April 2007, 13:41 GMT]
A Canadian Tamil peace activist in Toronto, Dr. Sri Skanda Rajah, on Saturday concluded a six day Ghandian fast, he undertook to sympathize with the victims in NorthEast Sri Lanka. Urging the Canadian Government to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to help "stop the carnage, starvation and the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sri Lankan armed forces," Dr. Sri Skanda Rajah said the fast was a spiritual exercise that transcended partisan politics and asked those who attended not to make political capital of the endavour.
A multi-faith prayer gathering was held Saturday evening at the Canada Kandasamy Temple to mark the ending of his six day fast.
Addressing the gathering Dr. Sri Skanda Rajah who is 69 years old, with a doctorate from Cambridge University and retired from the Asian Development Bank said the fast is a cry for help, undertaken to demonstrate his "deeply felt concern and empathy for the pain and suffering that continues to be inflicted on the Tamil speaking people in the NorthEast of Sri Lanka."
Dr and Mrs. Sri Skanda Rajah
Taking only water and salt (because of cramps) for six days and one small glass of milk at nights on doctor’s strict orders due to his diabetic condition Sri Skanda Rajah looked weak and could not stop crying as he spoke.
"By fasting for the past six days I was able to feel the pain and suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Tamils in my homeland."
Mr. Chuck Konkel, Mr. Jerry Bance and Mr. Tim Dobson in the audience
"I consciously chose to fast to explain the sufferings of my people to others so that they will feel pity on me and through me have pity on my people. This is a simple sacrifice on my part. True it hurts me and yet I chose to do this to portray to the people of this country the sufferings of my people."
He said the Canadian government should consider freezing financial aid to Sri Lanka, to send a strong signal to the Sri Lankan establishment.
Prof. Chandrakanthan leading the meditation
Professor Fr. C. Chandrakanthan from the University of Toronto, who led the Prayer and Meditation said fasting is a form of sacrifice that leads to inner purification. He commended Sri-Skanda-Rajah his fast has led Tamils to express solidarity. He dealt in detail the atrocities committed by Government of Sri Lanka and the sufferings of the Tamils in North and East of Sri Lanka.
He detailed the plight of Internally displaced people in the East with statistics.
Canon Fr. Fancis Xavier of the Anglican church of Canada, in his emotionally charged speech, traced the evolution of fasting in the Tamil struggle.
Mr. Sivalingam, a trustee of Richmond Hill Pillayar Temple presided at the event.
Mr. and Mrs. Thangavelu giving lemon rice to end the fast.
Raja Ibrahim from the Salahudeen Mosque and Bhuuvenedra Aiyar, Chief Priest of the Selavasannithy Temple Canada said prayers. Muslim devotional songs, Christian hymns, Hindu Thevarams, and Bhajans were also sung keeping the event a multi-faith spiritual occasion.
Organizers of the fast said the full six day fast could not be held at a public venue due to circumstances which they were not prepared to reveal but said there were many well-wishers and sympathizers who came to Sri Skanda Rajah’s residence to offer support and solidarity.
Tamil elected officials, Logan Kanapathy, Markham City Councillor and Neethan Shan, School Board Trustee were there.
Candidates belonging to the ruling Conservative of Party of Canada selected to stand for the next federal elections namely Jerry Bance of Scarborough Rouge River and Chuck Konkel of Scarborough Guildwood and Tim Dobson seeking nomination to stand in the riding of Pickering Scarborough East in the provincial elections in November were also there to lend support.
V. Thangavelu, a Canadian Tamil activist together with his wife, gave Sri Skanda Rajah some lemon rice and milk to end the fast.
Usha S Sri Skanda Rajah, wife of Sri Skanda Rajah thanking every one for their support said she strongly believes the Prime Minister of Canada cares and thanked Mr. Steven Harper for the special official Tamil New Year greetings he sent to Canadian Tamils.