Sri Lanka refuses visas to two Canadian MPs
[TamilNet, Saturday, 17 October 2009, 04:48 GMT]
Patrick Brown, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Barrie, and Paul Calandra Conservative MP for Oakridges Markham have been denied visas by the Sri Lankan Consulate in Toronto to visit the internment camps in Vavuniyaa Sri Lanka, where more than 300,000 Tamil refugees are being held against their wishes in military supervised camps, sources in Canada said. Mr Brown in an interview with a Canadian Tamil TV said that although the Consulate has "clearly said no" to his visit he is prepared to try again. The MP added that he is "incredibly suspicious" of the Government and that he believes "what every one is saying, that there are breaches of human rights, breaches of international obligations, and deplorable conditions...and I think it is true."
The MP said that "Canada is concerned with the Tamil refugees in the camp and that is why Canada gave $22m to aid, not to the Sri Lankan Government on which personally I have no confidence or faith, but directly to international aid organizations such as Red Cross to assist the refugees."
The MP added that he found it most depressing not to be able to take immigration papers to the uncle and other close relatives of one of his constitutents and enable re-unification of the families.
"There are things happening in Sri Lanka that the Government does not want the world to see," the MP said.
"I think this [denial of visa] is a slap in the face to Canada, and Canada should be looking at next steps, the statements that we can make to the world about the situation.
"I believe the situation in Sri Lanka is worse than what we have been reading in the papers.
"We should be looking at making a strong statement, whether a pitch to the Commonwealth that Sri Lanka should be excluded, suspended from the Commonwealth; or whether we should echo that in other international bodies.
"Another opportunity is, Sri Lanka is looking forward to hosting the 2010 Commonwealth games and cricket will be a center piece of these games. There is a lot affection of cricket in Sri Lanka, and if they loose the ability to host the games because of the flagrant violations of human rights that are likely taking place in Sri Lanka, it will send a strong message that the international community will not stand for this, and that there are consequences for their behavior.
"I think the problem right now is that Sri Lanka is going about this in a manner that there are no consequences for their behavior," the MP said.