News East West
TORONTO: Seniormost Indo-Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, will represent Canada at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)in Colombo in Sri Lanka from November 15 to 17. Obhrai will be in Sri Lanka from November 11 to 18.
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper has pulled out of the CHOGM because of Sri Lanka’s reluctance to account for human rights violations of the Tamil minority during the last phases of the ethnic war that ended in May 2009.
But now by not even sending foreign minister John Baird to CHOGM, Canada has taken a very tough stand against Sri Lanka for not allowing investigations of human rights violations of the Tamil community in northern parts of the island nation.
A government statement in Ottawa said Obhrai “will reiterate Canadian support for inclusive post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation to enable all Sri Lankans to live in freedom and security. The Prime Minister’s decision not to attend the meeting in Colombo came after Canada repeatedly voiced concerns over Sri Lanka’s failure to demonstrate its commitment to the Commonwealth’s core values and principles.”
Obhrai said, “Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must defend democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law.”During his trip to Sri Lanka, Obhrai is also visiting Jaffna on November 12 to meet Chief Minister Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran “to demonstrate Canada’s support for peaceful political development in Sri Lanka” and also see for himself the Tamils displaced during the conflict. He will also visit the battle site “in memory of innocent civilians who lost their lives.”