Stop Violating the Right and Freedom of Canadians to hear Different Perspectives

To:  Canadian Government

The Honourable David Emerson,
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Dear Sir,

Canada puts Sri Lankan political leader in mortal danger – Recall First Secretary McKinney, from Colombo

We are extremely surprised that the Canadian government has branded the leader of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) in Sri Lanka Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne as a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

While rejecting a visa application by Dr. Karunaratne to enter Canada, Mr. C McKinney, first secretary, immigration, of the Canadian high commission in Colombo, has stated, “As a prominent member of a political party that has historically and consistently shown support for the LTTE we can conclude that your actions constitute membership in the LTTE”.

It is a well established fact that the categorising of individuals as Tamil Tigers or supporters of the LTTE in Sri Lanka inevitably leads to extra judicial prosecution: If not, social exclusion, in a Sinhala majority society that is at war with the LTTE. Instances where this type of tagging has led to numerous Sri Lankan individuals being granted political asylum in Canada as well as several other countries in the developed world is ample proof.

We are convinced that the statement by First Secretary McKinney has placed Dr. Karunaratne’s life in grave danger. In a country where the state as well as paramilitary groups operates with impunity, we believe that by labeling Dr. Karunaratne as a Tamil Tiger, the Canadian high commission in Colombo justifies any harmful action against him.

In his letter rejecting the visa First Secretary McKinney says that Dr. Karunaratne has been “speaking at pro-LTTE events such as PongoThamil in Madrid and London”.

We would like to bring to your attention that Madrid has never been a Pongu Tamil venue and the London Pongu Tamil in July 2008 was attended by Britain’s ruling party MPs Siobhan McDonnagh and Virendra Sharma as well as MPs and MEPs from the opposition. We don’t think it is wrong to assume that those MPs and MEPs who attended the Pongu Tamil event in London will be categorized as LTTE members and barred from visiting Canada. Furthermore, we don’t believe that Pongu Tamil, which has also being held in Canada, does not constitute an “act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada,” as described in the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection act.

As far as we are aware Dr. Karunaratne has not been to Madrid and did not attend the London Pongu Tamil event in July 2008. This clearly demonstrates that Canada has refused entry to Dr. Karunaratne on false grounds. Had Mr. McKinney properly scrutinized Dr. Karunaratne’s passport the proper facts would have been established. We presume that relying on this type of misinformation, Mr. McKinney and his staff would have led to many instances of rejecting visa applications resulting in denying Sri Lankan citizens’ entry to Canada.

Therefore, we call upon the Canadian government to recall Mr. C McKinney and to offer a public apology to the leader of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) in Sri Lanka, Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne.


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