New Democrat MP trying to embarrass us: Sri Lanka high commission

Diplomats say Rathika Sitsabaiesan’s claims of political intimidation are erroneous

by Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Sri Lanka’s official representatives in Canada are accusing a New Democrat MP of attempting to embarrass the Asian country’s government by claiming she faced political intimidation during a visit there.

Earlier this month, Rathika Sitsabaiesan said in a brief statement she was warned by Sri Lankan officials during her private visit that she could be arrested and deported.

At the time, fellow New Democrat MP Paul Dewar said after speaking to Sitsabaiesan — a Sri Lankan native of Tamil heritage — that his caucus colleague had been followed and closely monitored by authorities from the moment she arrived.

Authorities showed up at Sitsabaiesan’s hotel one night to try to meet with her but she did not respond, Dewar said.

He said officials were concerned that Sitsabaiesan had met with a Sri Lankan MP and had visited an orphanage. The visits involved family, he added, noting the local MP was a cousin.

The Sri Lanka High Commission said Wednesday that Sitsabaiesan was on a tourist visa and had been advised not to engage in political activities that would amount to flouting Sri Lanka’s immigration laws and regulations.

It said Sri Lankan authorities handled the issue in a responsible manner, adding that Sitsabaiesan’s allegation she was subject to “political intimidation” is erroneous and an attempt to unfairly embarrass the government.

Sitsabaiesan, 32, came to Canada with her family at the age of five and was elected to the House of Commons in 2011 in the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough-Rouge River.

She played a key role in New Democrat efforts to persuade the Conservative government to boycott a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Sri Lanka last November. Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend, citing the Sri Lankan government’s human-rights record. However, Deepak Obhrai, a parliamentary secretary, did represent Canada at the Colombo meeting.

The New Democrats and others have called for Sri Lanka to submit to an investigation of alleged war crimes during the lengthy civil conflict between the military and Tamil insurgents seeking an independent homeland.

“My experiences since arriving in Sri Lanka are a reminder that defending principles of human rights is not easy, but I continue to believe that it is only through open dialogue and freedom of expression that people can ultimately achieve healing and reconciliation,” Sitsabaiesan said in her statement earlier this month.

Sitsabaiesan, who is still abroad, has yet to comment further on her experience.

NDP spokeswoman Veronique Breton said Wednesday the MP was in Sri Lanka to visit friends and family and did not set out to embarrass the host country.

In its statement, the Sri Lanka High Commission said Sitsabaiesan’s accusation against the government “could be indicative of her seeking to engage in political activity, and being unable to do so in the interest of abiding by Sri Lanka’s immigration laws and regulations, seems to have been interpreted by her as political intimidation.”

The high commission also seized on her reference to defending principles of human rights, saying it “further demonstrates a self-appointed role to pass judgment baselessly on a sovereign state.”

Two Green party MPs — one from Australia, the other from New Zealand — had their passports confiscated in November just before a planned news conference in Sri Lanka to describe human-rights abuses they were told of during their trip.




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New Democrat MP trying to embarrass us: Sri Lanka high commission

  1. And at least in part, we tax slaves of state are paying for this trip. Yep, we are.

    People, please stop voting for stupid representation. Take the time to look beyond the politicial and media propaganda and research before you vote.

    Hey, if she wants to go visit her fellow Tamil rebels, she can do so without using our money and pay for it herself, and not insinuate she represents Canada.

    But hey, NDP don’t think clearly. Thats why they got the punt from Saskatchewan and now Saskatchewan years later is in full recovery and prosperity mode.

  2. Of course she was trying to embarrass Sri Lanka.

    First she lied about being under house arrest. Then she tried to spin that into “political intimidation”. She’s an activist Dipper, they lie about all kinds of things trying to get attention for whatever “cause” they’re championing that day.

    • Do you have any evidence that she ever claimed to be under house arrest? Of course you don’t, because she never made the claim.
      Why do you keep thinking you can get away with non-stop lying? Haven’t you figured out yet that you’re too stupid to pull it off?

      • Oh? Then why was Sri Lankan media reporting that she was? You think Sri Lankan journalists just make stuff up?

        • There are any number of possible sources of the story that you’re too stupid to imagine, which is irrelevant in any event, because you have absolutely no evidence she ever made the claim.

          As always, the liar is you.

          • You’re too stupid to see it’s quite obvious she lied about it to somebody.

          • You know that zero evidence + claiming “it’s obvious” = zero evidence, right?
            But sure, it’s obvious – obvious that Sitsabaiesan lied, or was misunderstood, or a family member was misunderstood, or someone at the hotel, or someone that was trying to meet with her, or someone at the media outlet made a mistake, or there was an error in translation…and of course, it’s obvious that you can’t even lie competently.

        • They do in Canada……why would Sri Lankan journalists be any different?

    • If you’re worried about embarrassing Sri Lanka, it would seem you don’t realize what country this is.

  3. While I have no doubt this NDP’er was trying to provoke a response from the Sri Lankan Government, the fact remains that Sri Lanka has far bigger problems and an activist from the NDP.
    That being said, it’s hard to sympathize with the Tamil’s given their history of violence and terrorism; or their support of such behaviour. Just look at how they behave here in Canada, blocking roads, or flying flags of a terrorist group…..or extorting money from Canadian Tamils who want no part of the violence.
    If you want to come to Canada…..leave your hate at the departure point. We don’t need your crap here…whether from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, or “Palestine”

  4. Rathika Sitsabaiesan is extremely outspoken about her personal view of whom is to blame for the decades long war in Sri Lanka placing the blame entirely on the Sri Lankan Government and has been a strong advocate of boycotts etc. against that country. As a politician she should expect that such strong and open opposition to the Sri Lankan Government may draw some suspicion about her true intentions for a visit if that in fact was the case, which I strongly doubt.

    In any case she is simply a guest in Sri Lanka and is not there as a Canadian politician on Government business. Thus she should be conducting herself in a respectful manner expected of anyone who is a guest in a foreign country and that includes parking any personal baggage at the door, including spouting any political views that may encourage discontent among the host countries population.

    One thing I find rather amusing though is that the Tamils , this politician included still insist that Canada must give refuge to every Tamil that steps foot in this country because it is too dangerous for them to return to Sri lanka but they all go back for extended visits.

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