End emergency, reconcile with Tamils, Canada tells Sri Lanka

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 04:21 hrs

Toronto: Canada, home to the biggest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to lift the state of emergency imposed during the onslaught on the Tamil Tigers.

Urging Colombo to ease restrictions and work for reconciliation with the Tamil community, Ottawa also urged speedy resettlement of the displaced Tamils.

Canadian foreign affairs parliament secretary Deepak Obhrai, in his meeting with Sri High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara, urged Colombo to heal the wounds by starting the process of reconciliation with the Tamil community.

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'After 30 years of war, reconciliation is crucial for lasting peace in Sri Lanka. The government of Canada awaits to see what steps the government of Sri Lanka will take towards this reconciliation,'' Obhrai said after the meeting. He said Canada welcomes the return of about 160,000 internally displaced people to their homes.

But Sri Lanka also needs to speed up the 'safe return and resettlement of the approximately 100,000 individuals who remain displaced,'' he said.

Obhrai, who visited Colombo immediately after the conflict ended last year, urged Sri Lanka to allow access to NGOs and the media to Tamil camps and resettlement areas and pursue coordination with humanitarian agencies and donors.

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Seeking an end to the emergency in the island nation, he said there was no justification for restrictions now that the conflict is over.

After the decimation of the Tamil Tigers last year, Canada has become a rallying point for the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora as it is home to over 300,000 Tamils - the biggest group outside Sri Lanka.

At its height, the LTTE drew much of its funding from the diaspora in Canada. The outfit was banned here in 2006, making contributions to it illegal.

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