In an irreversible development that could fix Sri Lanka at any international tribunal, Canada and its judiciary have officially conceded that Sri Lankan Security Forces have committed war crimes during the final months of the war that ended in mid May 2009, by repeatedly rejecting an asylum application filed by a top ranking naval officer.
According to Canadian media report, Commodore Nadarajah Kuruparan has arrived at the Canadian border on August 4, 2009 with his wife and two children and made a refugee claim but the Federal Officials “are refusing to accept his refugee claim on the grounds he was complicit in war crimes during the troubled island’s long civil war against Tamil rebels”.
“One of only five ethnic Tamil officers in the navy, he said he feared the government, pro-government militias and rebels but the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) ruled he was not a genuine refugee because he was complicit in crimes against humanity,” the National Post, a Canadian English-language national newspaper, said in a report on Monday (02).
The Toronto-based newspaper said that his appeal to the Federal Court of Canada was dismissed on June 13, and he and his family now face deportation to Sri Lanka.
‘Disappearances and torture’
“The extensive sources of evidence and the reporting contained therein, including references to tens of thousands of disappearances and the institutionalization of torture, supports a finding that the navy and security forces’ acts were part of a widespread or systematic attack on Sri Lanka,” the newspaper has quoted Federal Court Justice John O’Keefe as saying in his 50-page decision on his case.
Hailing the court ruling as ‘significant’ because it upheld the finding that the Sri Lankan Security Forces committed widespread war crimes, it said that IRB found that while he had never personally committed a war crime, Mr. Kuruparan “participated in facilitating the navy’s operations, which included the darker aspects of those operations.”
The IRB found that he “had been complicit in the crimes against humanity because he had a long service with the navy, an organization that was known to regularly and systematically commit human rights abuses against the LTTE, the Tamil population and individuals suspected or perceived to be LTTE collaborators or sympathizers,” The National Post report said.
This is for first time that any government or a judiciary outside Sri Lanka has publicly and officially held that the Sri Lankan Security Forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels.
This has come amidst Canada’s persistent warning to boycott the next Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Colombo next year, demanding that there should be an international probe into the widespread allegations of war crimes committed during the final months of the war in 2009 by Sri Lankan government and its armed forced.
Australian Greens urges Gillard to follow suit Canada
Commenting on the ruling by the Canadian Federal Court and IRB, Australian Greens Senator for New South Wales Lee Rhiannon, Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s moral high ground to keep former Sri Lankan Navy Chief Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe as the High Commissioner to Australia.
“The ruling by the Federal Court of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board against a Commodore of the Sri Lankan Navy puts the focus back on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia – Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe,” Lee Rhiannon said in a statement.
“Through recent questioning in Senate Estimates I was able to confirm that reported allegations against Mr Samarasinghe in a brief provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions are being evaluated by the Australian Federal Police. If the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has reportedly ruled that Nadarajah Kuruparan is not a genuine refugee because he is complicit in crimes against humanity, then it is important to ask why a former Sri Lankan Naval Admiral still holds the position of High Commissioner in Australia while allegations against him are being evaluated,” Senator Lee Rhiannon questioned.
“If the Prime Minister has information which clears the High Commissioner of any complicity in the war crimes that were committed in Sri Lanka then she should share this with the Australian people. If not, Prime Minister Gillard should immediately ask the Sri Lankan Government to recall its High Commissioner, or move to expel him,” the Australian Green Senator stressed.