The Sunday Leader

Canada On War Footing

By Easwaran Rutnam 

Canada is on a virtual war footing against Sri Lanka ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird pushing for human rights concerns on Sri Lanka to be taken seriously by the Commonwealth.

Baird made a last minute push to have Sri Lanka included in the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which met in New York on Friday, but the attempt failed.

A day earlier he told Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at a separate meeting in New York that his government will not be fully represented at the Sri Lanka summit.

Commonwealth foreign affairs ministers met in New York on the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry said the meeting provided an opportunity for ministers to discuss a troubling lack of progress in Sri Lanka. Canada has repeatedly called for Commonwealth engagement in response to Sri Lanka’s alleged violations of the Commonwealth’s core values and principles.

“I spoke out loudly and clearly on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on our concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, the lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community and with the events that have taken place since the end of the civil war,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said at that meeting.

“As the Prime Minister has stated very clearly, we expect our concerns to be addressed seriously by the Government of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, given the current circumstances in Sri Lanka and the lack of substantial progress to date, it would be difficult for the Government of Canada to fully participate,” he added.

Baird then looked to discuss the issue at the smaller, but influential CMAG meeting also in New York on Friday.

Human Rights groups had also called on CMAG to formally discuss Sri Lanka and raise concerns over the human rights situation in the country. However Fiji was the main topic discussed at the meeting while a joint statement was also issued on the Maldives. Dr Dipu Moni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, chaired the meeting.

The CMAG meeting was also attended by Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, A. J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Mariyam Shakeela, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, Dr Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, Bernard Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania, Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago and Nipake Edward Natapei, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Vanuatu.

Earlier Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director said that the CMAG meeting was an opportunity for the Commonwealth to show some real leadership on human rights. It said that CMAG has been shamefully silent so far about Sri Lanka’s human rights crisis – including the persistent lack of justice for past crimes and ongoing attacks on human rights defenders and other activists.

Human Rights Watch had also called for Sri Lanka to be discussed at the CMAG meeting in New York.

Meanwhile the Canadian delegation at the UN Human Rights Council which concluded its 24th session last week made harsh comments on Sri Lanka.

The Canadians said they were discouraged that Sri Lanka continues to ignore calls for it to establish a credible and independent investigation into widespread allegations of humanitarian law and human rights violations by both sides during the nearly 30-year civil conflict.

The Canadians went further by requesting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to comment on specific activities her office plans to undertake to monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka ahead of her written report to the Council in March 2014.


12 Comments for “Canada On War Footing”

  1. zac deen

    In canada no one dare to speak about religion in schools neither teach in schools.But they are talking about human rights Srilanka.This is purely election propaganda.They are targeting their tamil votes in next election.Shame,Shame canadians.

  2. Max

    Canada is Pandering to the Tamils in Toronto.

  3. manuelpillai

    Only true repentance of its failure and preparedness to accept its complicity can bring some sort of relieve to the bereaved. The government should do it if they want peace at any cost.UN secretary has admitted the failure on their part to safeguard the civilians.

  4. Saro

    Heavy presence and influence of military in the North is an impediment to reconciliation and peace. The reports of both the Commonwealth monitors and CaFFE make it abundantly clear that military interfered violently with the electioneering.

    Commowealth monitors from SAARC countries said in their report

    “We learned that opposition candidates and their supporters, as well as voters at large, faced instances of intimidation and harassment,”
    “The freedom to hold campaign meetings and openly interact with the electorate was restricted,” adding that the “HEAVY PRESENCE and influence of the MILITARY” also compromised the electoral environment.

    CaFFE revealed “The Northern Province is the most highly militarised region in the country. There are close to 30 Army camps along the A9 road from Vavuniya to Jaffna. Some of the main Army camps that can be found in Vavuniya are St. Joseph’s Camp and Mandai camp, STF camps in Puliyankulam, Periyakulam and Gurusidam, and those of the 56th Regiment in Thandikulam, the 19th detachment of the Gajaba Regiment in Kanakarayankulam; 561 Regiment and the 19th Sri Lankan Task Force. Meanwhile detachments of Regiments 574, 632, 53 and 571 could be found in Maankulam and Kokavil while an Army Intelligence base is located in Iranamadu. Large camps are also located at Elephant Pass, Maankulam, Pulapolei, Palei, Muhamalei, Eludumattuwal, Varani, Nunavil, Nanavilwala and Murasuvil.

    • P. Riyad

      If not for the Army camps and troops, the Northern province would have not hands peaceful local election to their Provincial Council and elect a majority of their choice. It is time the world realize this achievement and give credit where it is due.

  5. Shaik Anwar Ahamath

    If Canadian ministers are not playing to the gallery and their voters back home, and had serious issues with Sri Lanka, the obvious place to bring them up is within the Commonwealth Meeting in November and may be able to be convinced or otherwise of the issues with first hand evidence.

  6. dagggy

    These canadian cheap skates are just attempting to please the Tamil voters in Toronto.
    They are playing internal Canadian politics with the Sri Lanka issue just as the Tamil Nadu does.

  7. Robert croos

    Be careful. It is better to be honest , sincere and open. The western exploiters have an effective tactic of keeping it in the back burner and and to use it to their benefits when it suits them later. Sinhalese should realise that theie has been a massacre and excessive force during the war by their army and Tamils are still waiting for a fair solution. If they dismissed it , the punitive action will happen years later.
    There are plenty of examples like Pinnachet, Sadam Hussein, Fugimoro, Gaddafi , Asad, Milosevich Noriego and others.

  8. Malin

    Very soon SL will learn that it cannot bluff the world. It can bluff its gullible citizens but not democratic nations. SL being third world country has not leg to stand on.

  9. CW

    What the f++k are they talking about/ What about the abuses by the LTT? Why does SL have to do an “independent” inquiry? What about US? Did they do any investigation by an ” imported” panel? Did Canada do any investigation into their “Aboriginal Grievances?” Clean up your own backyard before poking your stinky nose into others.

  10. Roshan

    Canada!! Pho phoo…

    “I spoke out loudly and clearly on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on our concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, the lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community “ now..playing for the gallary will get many votes!!

    STAY AWAY FROM SRI LANKA..and go and kill some baby seals!!

  11. srilanka will learn lession from westran countries and srilankan, army is not ruling the country it is democratic country, politicians wanted to subprise the people the time come to fight againt the unqulified ,uneducated politician wanted rule the country.

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