The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to mark 40 years since Black July:
“Forty years ago, in July 1983, an onslaught of horrific anti-Tamil pogroms were carried out across Sri Lanka. They took the lives of thousands, and many more were injured, displaced, and subjected to sexual violence. The brutality of Black July escalated tensions in what became a decades-long armed conflict that led to the death of tens of thousands of people, and trauma that communities continue to endure today.
“On this sombre day, we join Tamil-Canadians and Tamil communities around the world to remember the victims, honour the survivors, and recommit ourselves to always stand against hate and violence. Last year, the Parliament of Canada unanimously adopted the motion to make May 18 Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, which was marked for the first time this year. And today, we continue to call for accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka. Canada will never stop standing up for human rights, and we will continue to help address the needs of the most vulnerable communities amidst the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
“Diversity will always be one of Canada’s greatest strengths. In the aftermath of Black July, when many were forced from their country, the Government of Canada established a Special Measures program in 1983, and 1,800 Tamil people chose to come to Canada to build a new life – creating one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world. Yesterday, and also over the years as Prime Minister, I had the opportunity to meet with many Tamil-Canadians to hear their tragic memories of Black July, join them in honouring the memories of those lost, and thank them for the many important contributions they have made – and continue to make – to our country.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my deepest sympathies to all those who have suffered and lost loved ones during Black July and the violence that followed, and I reaffirm our commitment to building a future free of hate.”