Sri Lanka deports Canadian MP for 'rebel support'
By Amal Jayasinghe
June 10, 2009
COLOMBO (AFP) A prominent Canadian MP was denied entry to Sri Lanka on Wednesday and deported for allegedly supporting the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said.
Bob Rae, a Liberal member of parliament, former Ontario prime minister and outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan military's offensive against the rebels, was detained after flying into Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport.
“He was put in the next available flight and sent back,” an airport official told AFP.
He said Rae was sent aboard Sri Lankan airlines flight UL503, which flies direct to London's Heathrow airport.
Sri Lankan immigration chief P. B. Abeykoon said Rae was blacklisted over his alleged links to the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who were defeated last month after a massive military onslaught in the north of the island.
Rae had added his voice to widespread international condemnation of the offensive, which according to the United Nations left thousands of civilians dead in indiscriminate shelling.
“He is barred from entering the country. He is being deported… we have intelligence information that he is supporting the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam),” Abeykoon said.
In postings on his website, Rae had said he was planning to travel to the island's devastated northern Wanni region, where hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians are being held under guard in government camps.
He said he wanted to press the Sri Lankan government to be magnanimous in victory.
“The war is over, the crowds will shout. But there is a difference between a war ended by agreement and a war ended by death and destruction. If there is no magnanimity in victory there is no victory,” he wrote.
“I shall go back to the Wanni because the effort must still be made,” he said. “But it is hard not to cry at what has been lost, how much life has been destroyed. And what must still be done to bring justice to the peace that is being proclaimed so loudly.”
The MP was involved in failed peace attempts in Sri Lanka following the February 2002 Norwegian-brokered truce between troops and Tamil Tigers, and worked on proposals to create a federal state as a means to peacefully end decades of ethnic bloodshed.
The peace process, however, collapsed 18 months ago with both the rebels and the Sri Lankan government choosing to return to war.
Canada gave asylum to more than 300,000 ethnic Tamils who left Sri Lanka in the 1980s, and members of the diaspora have held angry anti-Sri Lankan rallies there in recent months.
Last month, Canada accused Sri Lankan police of failing to guard its embassy in Colombo when it was targeted by stone-throwing protesters and demanded a full inquiry.
The deportation comes as the government continues to toughen its stance against its mainly-Western critics, in particular countries and agencies that are pushing for a probe into suspected war crimes committed by troops.
The island's diplomats have enlisted the support of China and Russia to block any United Nations Security Council action. The activities of foreign aid groups have also been restricted.
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