Tamils in Canada vote for independent homeland in Sri Lanka

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Montreal, Quebec (Canada), Dec. 21 (ANI): Sri Lankan Tamils living in Canada have overwhelmingly voted "yes" for an independent homeland in a referendum held Saturday.

A Christian Science Monitor (CSM) report described the voting process as the latest in a series of such votes held in Sri Lankan Tamil communities in Europe and North America.

It quoted organizers as saying that the purpose of the vote was to apply international pressure on Sri Lanka to devolve more autonomy to Tamils.

Political analysts, however expressed sceptism about this goal being achieved anytime soon, but added that it might help reinvigorate the pro-Tamil Tiger diaspora in the wake of the Tigers' devastating military defeat this year after decades of fighting.

"The referendum has been organized by groups supportive of the Tamil Tigers," says Dr. Narenda Subramanian, associate professor of political science at McGill University, who specializes in South Asia.

"They'll use this as a way of revitalizing their pro-Tiger network outside Sri Lanka. They may be laying the foundation for a transnational Eelam government, a legitimate self-governing authority outside Sri Lanka that will one day take over a future Tamil state in Sri Lanka - in the event that ever happens," he added.

Subramanian claimed that the Tamil Tiger network outside Sri Lanka is still fairly intact, operating covertly under different front organizations even in countries like Canada that have slapped a ban on the rebel group.

Canada is the third country to be holding such a referendum this year. It is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the world, an estimated 150,000 people.

The first referendum was held last May in Norway, which is one of the few Western countries that hasn't banned the Tamil Tigers. Norway brokered the 2002 cease-fire between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan government, which was torn up formally in Jan. 2008.

The diaspora in France voted on the referendum just last weekend.

The turnout was high in all three countries, according to the pro-Tamil Tiger website Tamilnet, which also reports that the vote was 99 percent "yes" in all three countries.

On why it's necessary to hold a diaspora referendum now on a resolution that was drafted 33 years ago, Senthan Nada, one of the organizers and spokesperson for the Toronto-based Coalition to Stop the War, says it's a touchstone to determine the future path. (ANI)

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