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Canada stalls appointment of Sri Lankan accused war criminal as high commissioner

Accused War Criminal , Air Force Commander Sumangala Dias

The appointment of former Air Force Commander, and accused war criminal, Sumangala Dias as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada is being stalled by the Canadian government, reports the Sunday Times, amid pushback from Canadian politicians and the Tamil diapsora.

Dias’s appointment was met with opposition from Tamil Canadian groups and Parliamentarians alike, including the National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT), Gurratan Singh the MPP for Brampton East and People for Equality And Relief in Lanka (PEARL). An online petition was set up calling for Canada to “reject the appointment of the Génocidaire, Sumangala Dias, as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Canada.” 

Dias stands accused of committing war crimes, in his role as the acting Commander of the Air Force Base Hinguarakgoda in 2005 from which many of the indiscriminate bombing missions against civilians’ targets originated from. He was appointed as senior air coordinator in 2008 and oversaw the final stages of the armed conflict coordinating Sri Lankan Air Force Operations with ground operations of the 57,58 and 59 Divisions of the Sri Lankan army, which have been credibly accused of committing war crimes.

Last November, The National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT) wrote to the Canadian Minister of Foreign affairs. In the statement the NCCT urged the Canadian government, “to thoroughly vet the credentials of appointees before accepting them” and that the “government should not fall prey to the machinations of the Government of Sri Lanka” and calling on the government to “reject the appointment of credibly accused war criminals as ambassadors”.

Read the full statement by the NCCT here.

They were joined in their call by Gurratan Singh, MP for Brampton East, who called Dias “a credibly accused war criminal who aided in the Tamil Genocide. “Canada must reject his appointment” he added.



People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) released a statement calling the appointment “an affront to human rights and to Canada’s role as a leader or justice and accountability for Tamil-Canadians”.

“We ask that Air Chief Marshal Dias be investigated and prosecuted in Canada for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide” the organisation added.

See the full PEARL statement here


"The stigma of originally being rejected by one country before would be haunting personally and does not augur well for the country," noted the Sunday Times.

Read more at the Sunday Times here.

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