Jawaharlal Nehru University facilitates talk on ‘structural genocide’
By Shamindra Ferdinando
SLPP MP retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (24) accused Canadian High Commissioner Eric Walsh of backing those propagating separatist sentiments.
The former Public Security Minister, who is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on National Security, claimed that the HC’s recent visit to the Northern Province was intended to further divide the communities.
The one-time Chief of Staff of the SLN was critical of what he called the Canadian interference in the continuing dispute over the Kurundi temple in former LTTE bastion Mullaitivu.
Weerasekera found fault with the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government for its failure to take up the issue at hand with the Canadian government. The Foreign Ministry had to explain how it intended to counter external interference with the country’s internal affairs, the MP said.
The Island raised the accusations directed at Canadian HC Eric Walsh with the HC spokesperson. We received the following response: “Meeting people in different parts of the country, to better understand their priorities and perspectives, is a normal part of a High Commissioner’s role.”
Referring to the recent presidential pardon granted to two LTTE cadres, convicted of the 1996 suicide attack on the Central Bank, MP Weerasekera said the government was going out of its way to appease the LTTE rump and the pro-LTTE activists overseas while they continued their Western-backed campaign against Sri Lanka.
MP Weerasekera said that the government should be seriously concerned about the Canadian HC meeting former Northern Provincial Council Member T. Raviharan, who is spearheading the protest against the Kurundi temple. Pointing out that the matter was now before the Court of Appeal, the former Minister said that the whole issue should be reviewed against the backdrop of Canada’s shocking declaration of genocide against Tamil people here.
Canadian Parliament in 2022 declared May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day. Responding to The Island queries, MP Weerasekera pointed out that Canadians exploited the current political-economic-social crisis to the hilt. “The statements issued by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and HC Walsh to mark the Black July riots of 1983 showed how conveniently they forgot the origins of terrorism here,” an irate Weerasekera said, adding that as a nation Sri Lanka should be ashamed of its failure to set the record straight.
HC Walsh tweeted on Sunday, July 23: “Today, we remember the victims of anti-Tamil violence that spread across Sri Lanka forty years ago. The wounds from July 1983 have yet to heal. Acknowledging these terrible events and commemorating the victims are vital steps towards inclusivity and sustainable prosperity in Sri Lanka. We’ll continue to support the efforts of all who are working toward these goals.”
In his statement, PM Trudeau, having declared their intention to push for accountability for human rights violations in Sri Lanka, underscored that Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was marked for the first time this year.
Canada has conveniently forgotten that the public went on a rampage after a group of Indian-trained LTTE terrorists wiped out an Army patrol at Thinnaveli, Jaffna, killing 13 soldiers. Would Canada also demand accountability for thousands of deaths caused due to Indian intervention, and from the Tamil community, for assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi? MP Weerasekera asked. How could they raise this issue without referring to the deployment of the Indian Army here (July 1987-March 1990) in the Northern and Eastern Provinces where thousands perished at a time the Sri Lankan military was confined to barracks in terms of the Indo-Lanka Accord, the SLN veteran queried.
The Canadian PM couldn’t be unaware that India lost well over 1,000 men in Sri Lanka and nearly 3,000 wounded, the MP said. That would have been sufficient to understand the losses suffered by the Tamil community here.
The ex-Minister said that in his capacity as Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on National Security he intended to raise the entire gamut of issues with the Foreign Ministry. Asked whether he was confident of securing the support of other political parties to pursue the accountability challenge, MP Weerasekera said that he was pushing for Parliament to adopt a resolution against Canada over the Canadian Parliament resolution claiming that genocide took place in Sri Lanka. The MP said: “I handed over a Private member’s motion in this regard to the Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera.”
MP Weerasekera said that he didn’t talk about how Canada treated its indigenous people, including children.
The MP said that in Parliament last week he called for the expulsion of HC Walsh for meddling in domestic affairs. Canada was pursuing an extremely dangerous agenda, MP Weerasekera said, alleging that their declaration of genocide would influence anti-Sri Lanka sentiments the world over.
The former Minister pointed out the Black July 1983 Remembrance, titled ‘A structural genocide and ethnic cleansing of Tamil Hindus’ held at Jawaharlal Nehru University yesterday (Monday July 24) emphasized the growing danger. Such events gave credence to unsubstantiated allegations especially when a State University got involved, MP Weerasekera said. He pointed out this happened soon after President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to New Delhi.
Then the Indian media recently quoted BJP State President K Annamalai as having said that he was concerned about the declining Hindu population in the north and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, where Tamils form the majority, MP Weerasekera said.
This silly statement was made in a speech Annamalai made in a chamber of the House of Lords, the MP said, alleging that such declarations were meant to increase pressure on Sri Lanka. The BJP official should know a sizable Tamil population lived among the Sinhalese in the South and the LTTE was responsible for forcing the Muslim community out of the Northern Province in Oct./Nov. 1990, MP Weerasekera said.