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Canadian government’s silence on Sri Lanka unacceptable says opposition party

The Canadian government is ignoring its international obligations by failing to engage the United Nations and friendly nations on ways to help the people of Sri Lanka, according to Canada’s Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae.
"There are still hundreds of thousands in camps, which have been made even more unliveable after heavy rain," said Rae.
The Canadian Tamils believe the Conservative government in Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper could do more to protest Canada’s opposition to the mistreatment of Tamils by the Sri Lankan state directly and work with other international actors in multilateral forums like the United Nations to bring pressure on the island state to adhere to humanitarian laws.
"Our foreign policy has to be based on a principled engagement with our partners and friends in attempting to deal with a government like Sri Lanka, which is ignoring humanitarian law and the rights of its citizens. The Harper government has dropped the ball in this regard."
Referring to the recent sentencing of Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissanayagam, Rae said the conviction of Tissanayagam is particularly disturbing as he has received the maximum penalty of twenty years in prison under the Prevention of Terrorism Act simply for being a journalist with an editorial view.
"The arrest of well known journalists, the threats against members of the NGO community, the repression of dissent - these are all signs of a government sinking into authoritarianism," Rae added.
"Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are crucial tenets of democracy around the world, principles which Canada holds dear, and Mr. Tissainayagam's conviction demonstrates a perversion of those democratic principles in Sri Lanka today.”
"The Harper government's silence on these matters is simply unacceptable. We can do better as a world leader. I urge the Conservatives to take action," he said.

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