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Canadian Tamil advocacy group urges Trudeau government to reject appointment of Sri Lankan ambassador accused of war crimes

November 2, 2020 – National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT) is urging the Canadian government to reject the appointment of Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as Sri Lankan Ambassador to Canada who stands accused of committing war crimes.

Conservatives have previously raised concerns about Sri Lankan officials who may have committed war crimes and were admitted into Canada. M.P. Garnett Genuis, Shadow Minister for International Development & Human Rights
had asked the government to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Sergei Magnitsky law. The legislation allows the Government of Canada to sanction foreign officials who have committed gross human rights violations. This law also gives the Government of Canada the authority to deny entry to Canada for such individuals

Re: Request Canada to reject Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as Ambassador

The Sri Lankan Government is now headed by President Gotabaya Rajapakse and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, both credibly accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in their genocidal war against the Tamil people on the island. They were both elected to power based on their virulent anti-Tamil rhetoric and promise to protect the soldiers who committed war crimes from any investigation. Since assuming office, they have been appointing former senior military personnel to top government positions and diplomatic posting abroad to take advantage of the diplomatic immunity. It is a deliberate attempt to “whitewash” their crimes by hood winking the international community.

Now, the Sri Lankan Government is trying to send Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as Sri Lankan Ambassador to Canada. Air Marshal Sumangala Dias has held high positions in the chain of command of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), which is credibly accused of committing war crimes by indiscriminately bombing Tamil civilian targets including hospitals, churches, and schools during the long war against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

We enumerate the culpability of Air Marshal Sumangala Dias in committing war crimes here.

He was appointed as Base Commander at SLAF Hingurakgoda Base, Sri Lanka, on June 1, 2005, from which many of the indiscriminate bombing missions against civilian targets originated. In 2008, he was appointed Senior Air Coordinator for the final stages of war in 2009, coordinating SLAF operations with the ground operations of the 57, 58 and 59 Divisions of the Sri Lanka Army, which has been credibly accused of war crimes. These Sri Lankan army divisions are from the Gajaba regiment of the then Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Thousands of Canadians of Tamil origin lost family members and friends due to these genocidal attacks under Sumangala Dias’s command. “Trophy footage” taken by army personal themselves show the killing and maiming of innocent civilians by aerial bombardments of hospitals and government announced “No Fire Zones” where Tamils were urged to take refuge by the Government of Sri Lanka. Many of the relatives of victims who survived these genocidal attacks are Canadian Citizens. They are working extremely hard to move forward from their traumatic experience

A similar attempt to hoodwink the Brazilian Government with the appointment of another war criminal as an Ambassador ended up in a fiasco when the appointee had to flee the country to escape from facing criminal charges just prior to his acceptance.

We strongly urge our government to thoroughly vet the credentials of appointees before accepting them. Our government should not fall prey to the machinations of the Government of Sri Lanka.

Please reject the appointment of credibly accused war criminals as ambassadors.

Thank you for the kind consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
National Council of Canadian Tamils

 

External Links
AP NEWS: Sri Lankan ambassador, accused of war crimes, leaves Brazil 
The Conversation: Conservative MP Garnett Genuis on Sri Lanka Foreign Policy
National Council of Canadian Tamils

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