by Dela Muhundarajah – BASICS #17 (Jan/Feb 2010)
When looking at the decades-long oppression the Tamil people have suffered in Sri Lanka, the genocidal war against them that has claimed the lives of what independent research says is more than 300,000, and the horrid conditions in the concentration camps they are currently being held in, self-determination would seem to be the only solution. It would provide the Tamil people the opportunity to live in dignity and self-respect and allow them to constitutionalize such rights as unconditional access to education and freedom from the racism they have faced at the hands of the Sri Lankan state.
In 1976, the Tamil population in the north and east parts of Sri Lanka mandated as much when they voted for the Vaddukoaddai Resolution, a referendum that posed the question of self-determination. On December 19, 2009 the Canadian Tamil community cast their vote once again on the question of the Vaddukoaddai Resolution.
Those who actively responded by casting their vote in Canada voted an overwhelming 99.8% in favour of reaffirming the Vaddukoaddai Resolution.
According to the official count, of the 48,583 voters who turned out across Canada, 48,481 voted yes to the Vaddukoaddai Resolution, 85 voted no and 16 ballots were invalidated. The impressive voter turnout has stunned the media, non-Tamil poll monitors, and the broader Canadian public.
The entire process was managed and monitored by the ES&S (Election Systems and Software), a reputable independent North American election software firm. There were 31 polling stations from coast to coast that extended from Vancouver to Halifax and the polling stations were conveniently open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
The referendum sent a clear message to the Tamil diaspora and the international community: after the genocidal onslaught against Tamils in Sri Lanka over the course of 2009, the resolve of the Tamil people to realize self-determination has only strengthened.