During the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council session, Gary Anandasangaree, a Canadian MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, spoke with Tamil Guardian about the need for demilitarisation, devolution, Sri Lanka’s economic woes and how Canada was pushing for accountability.
Speaking to our journalists, Anandasangaree noted that in the Spring, he had written to the International Monetary Fund expressing concern over Sri Lanka’s outsized military, an issue highlighted in the latest UN report.
“Sri Lanka has an oversized military which is double the size of Ukraine’s military, which currently in an active war with Russia” he noted.
Since writing to the IMF, Anandasangaree has provided a detailed policy paper to IMF officials during meetings with their executive board in Washington as well as in meetings with the Minister of Finance and Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister. Anandasangaree noted that he is also had discussions with the IMF executive director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean.
Sri Lanka’s economy
Anandasangaree notes that since the IMF reached a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka, his discussions have raised concerns over militarisation as well as considering from a macro-economic perspective how to get “the country back into a stable economic position”.
This, he maintains, must “take shape through the form of a fully devolved North-East”.
In his conversation, he highlighted that the North-East is “underdeveloped and that it needs autonomy to develop its own industries”. Illustrating this, Anandasangaree comments on the relatively low GDP output of the North, which contributes 4.6% to the island’s economy, compared to the Western province, whose GDP output is around the mid-30%.
To boost the North-East’s economic output, there needs to be accessible to international markets, “which means opening up the airports in the North, access to shipping, as well other direct overseas investment”.
Anandasangaree emphasised the need for “local decision making to be able to really protect their economic future”.
Commenting on the draft UN resolution, Anandasangaree notes that this is the 41st session in which Sri Lanka is being discussed continuously and that this resolution will ensure accountability remains a primary goal in the coming years.
He notes that as the document is in the negotiation stage over the next two weeks, “the document will be modified, strengthened to ensure accountability takes place for the crimes committed in Sri Lanka”.
He adds that there is “broad-based support for the principles in the document”.
Canada’s role in delivering justice for Tamils
On Canada’s role in delivering justice for Tamils, Anandasangaree emphasises that as part of the Core Group, Canada brought forwards resolutions including 30/1, 46/1 and this current resolution.
As part of this, Canada is responsible for working with “member states to ensure there is broad support for these resolutions”.
Anandasangaree has also recently called for sanctions against the Rajapaksa brothers for the crimes they perpetrated against Tamils.
“We will work with the community to ensure justice is served” he told our journalists.