Since the 1970s, his journey has been closely associated with Tamil Eelam’s struggle and defending the rights of Eelam Tamils.” — FGTO
“Mr. Anton Philip Sinnarasa, was a survivor of the 1983 Welikada prison massacre, passed away in Toronto on February 26, 2023. Since the 1970s, his journey has been closely associated with Tamil Eelam’s struggle and defending the rights of Eelam Tamils.”
The people of Tamil Eelam lost a great soul and a strong human rights defender of Tamil rights, who tirelessly served his people for five decades. Mr. Anton Philip Sinnarasa, was a survivor of the 1983 Welikada prison massacre, passed away in Toronto on February 26, 2023. Since the 1970s, his journey has been closely associated with Tamil Eelam’s struggle and defending the rights of Eelam Tamils. He was a Catholic priest serving the community in the late 70s when the Tamil struggle for freedom received a democratic mandate to form a separate country, Tamil Eelam. He played an important role in the freedom struggle when the Tamil people were severely oppressed and faced genocide at the hands of the Sri Lankan government.
In 1981, when the Sri Lankan government burned down the Jaffna library, an act of cultural genocide against the Tamils, Mr. Sinnarasa documented it to inform the world about this genocidal acts. His actions led the Sri Lankan government to arrest him with other priests, and to imprison them as political prisoners.
In 1983, Sri Lanka’s genocidal pogroms against Tamils took place in Colombo and most of the Southern part of the Island, where the voter’s list was used to identify Tamils. Thousands of Tamils were killed, raped, and tortured by Sinhala hooligans under the guidance of the Sri Lankan armed forces. These weeks-long massacres, known as Black July, also spread to the prison systems in Sri Lanka, resulting in the Tamil political prisoners being killed by the Sinhalese prison inmates with full knowledge of the authorities.
In his own words, Mr. Sinnarasa explained the Welikada massacre as follows:
“On the 27th, the attack occurred on the building we were in. The Singhalese criminals came, and they broke all the locks. They came inside and began to take us from our cells. Luckily, they could not open up three cells, and as a result, [few] people survived. Meanwhile, we could hear what was happening on the first floor, giving us a little time to prepare. We had a small table on the second floor to pray and celebrate mass. We broke this table and prepared to use its four legs as weapons to prevent the criminals from putting their hands on the gates. However, 20 to 30 criminals came upstairs, and they immediately broke the padlocks and opened the gate. Dr.Rajasuntharam tried to reason with them, but he was dragged outside and he was killed on the spot. We immediately closed the gate to prevent them from coming back inside. We fought with only those four legs for nearly half an hour.” Mr. Anton Philip Sinnarasa said.
After leaving the Island in the 1980s, Mr. Sinnarasa continued his commitment to defending the human rights of the Tamil people. He met many world leaders and documented the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka in several ways, such as gathering evidence, publishing books and reports, organizing conferences and seminars, and advocating for justice.
In Canada, he actively worked in the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) which supported many humanitarian efforts in Tamil Eelam. He was also a founding member of the Tamil Eelam Society of Canada (TESOC), which helped many Tamil immigrants and refugees in Canada to settle in Canadian life. He was the first person to contact for Tamil refugee-related support in Canada by Tamil Canadians.
Immediately after 2009, he formed CWVHR (Center for War Victims and Human Rights), an organization to document the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of genocide that took place in the final phase of the Tamil Eelam war, where the geopolitical forces ignored Tamils to protect their own interests and to cover up Sri Lanka’s crimes of genocide. On May 15, 2010, CWVHR organized the first conference on the Tamil genocide in Toronto, and book released a book entitled “Tamil Genocide from 1956 – 2008”. This book compiled detailed documentation of evidence from victims with several reports from NESHOR (North East Secretariat on Human Rights).
Mr. Anton Philip Sinnarasa’s work still continued during the pandemic. He provided a witness statement in defence of the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act. He continued documenting the Tamil genocide, including supporting efforts for the Tamil Genocide Monument in Brampton. The Tamil Canadian community lost a great human rights defender and Tamil activist. He will always be remembered for his tireless service to the community, for which we are forever grateful. May his soul rest in peace.
Federation of Global Tamil Organizations (FGTO), http://fgto.org
Present member organizations: Tamil Genocide Memorial (TGM), Tamil Americans United PAC (TAUPAC), Global Tamil Movement (GTM), Ottawa Tamil Association (OTA), Quebec Tamil Development Association (QTDA), World Tamil Organization (WTO), ABC Tamil Oli, Ilankai Thamil Sangam-Florida, Tamil Canadian Centre for Civic Action (TCCCA)
Federation of Global Tamil Organizations