Sri Lankan govt rejects Canadian PM Trudeau's 'genocide' claims during LTTE war | World News - Hindustan Times

Sri Lankan govt rejects Canadian PM Trudeau's 'genocide' claims during LTTE war

May 21, 2024 08:58 PM IST

Trudeau, in a statement, noted that Canada’s Parliament unanimously voted to recognise May 18 as 'Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day'.

The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday hit out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for engaging in electoral vote bank politics by making an "outrageous allegation" of a "genocide" during the island nation's brutal armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended in 2009.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (AP)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (AP)

Trudeau, in a statement, noted that Canada’s Parliament unanimously voted to recognise May 18 as 'Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day'.

"We will always advocate for justice and accountability for the crimes committed during the conflict, as well as for the hardships faced by all in Sri Lanka. In 2023, we imposed sanctions against four former Sri Lankan government officials in response to their violations of human rights in the country during the armed conflict," Trudeau said in a statement on Saturday.

“Canada is a strong defender of human rights in Sri Lanka," he said, adding that Ottawa will "continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to respect freedom of religion, belief, and pluralism – essential values to build lasting peace."

Reacting sharply to Trudeau's statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka said it rejects the false allegation of a so-called "genocide" in the island nation during the civil war.

"The Government of Sri Lanka in all previous communications has categorically refuted such outrageous allegation of genocide in Sri Lanka. No competent authority in Canada or elsewhere in the world has made any objective determination of genocide having taken place in Sri Lanka," the statement said.

"These unfounded allegations relate to the conclusion of the armed separatist terrorist conflict waged by the LTTE in pursuit of a separate state, contrary to the principles of the UN Charter. The LTTE is a listed terrorist organisation in 33 countries worldwide, including in Canada," the statement noted.

Prime Minister Trudeau's endorsement of this false narrative of genocide in Sri Lanka is highly disruptive of communal harmony among the Canadians of Sri Lankan origin, a valuable community of Sri Lankan heritage living overseas, it said.

A "partisan narrative" ignores the complex reality of the Sri Lankan conflict and as such these comments by Prime Minister Trudeau "resonates adversely" among Sri Lankans and disrupt the Sri Lankan government's ongoing efforts towards national unity, reconciliation and progress in Sri Lanka, the statement said.

"Canada’s falsification of our history amounts to irresponsible disinformation. It misleads the minds of current and future generations in Canada and elsewhere, encouraging and perpetuating hatred," it said, urging the Canadian Government to assume responsibility in a spirit of mutual respect in promoting peace and harmony.

On a related but separate front, Canada’s disproportionate focus on Sri Lanka is a clear example of double standards," the statement noted.

"It is crucial that countries like Canada, who claim to be global advocates of human rights, recognise their self-interested double standards which are resulting in increased polarisation in the international community," the statement said.

"Clearly, the repeated statements by the Prime Minister of Canada with regard to Sri Lanka are the outcome of electoral vote bank politics in Canada, funded by a small number of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin with vested and personal interest," the statement said.

Interestingly, India has also said that by allowing political space to Khalistani separatist elements, the Canadian government is sending a message that its vote bank is "more powerful" than its rule of law.

In an exclusive interview with PTI earlier this month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India respects and practices freedom of speech, but that does not equate with freedom to threaten foreign diplomats, extend support to separatism, or allow political space to elements advocating violence.

Ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Trudeau's allegations in September last year of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

New Delhi has rejected Trudeau's charges as "absurd" and "motivated." India has been maintaining that the main issue has been that of Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry press statement also noted that the LTTE has indiscriminately targeted civilians of all communities in all parts of the country. It also targeted and assassinated the moderate Tamil leadership of the country including the former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Since the end of the conflict in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has taken many steps towards reconciliation, unity and achieving durable peace and security despite the present economic hardships. The Government is determined to continue these measures, the statement added.

The LTTE had run a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009. On May 18, 2009, the Sri Lankan Army declared victory with the discovery of the body of the dreaded LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

According to Sri Lankan government figures, over 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts, including the three-decade brutal war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east, which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

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