Canadian lawmaker deported from Sri Lanka (Lead)

June 10th, 2009 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, June 10 (IANS) Canadian MP Bob Rae was deported from Sri Lanka Wednesday after accused of being a Tamil Tiger sympathiser, a charge the veteran politician dubbed “a lie, pure and simple”.
Rae, who arrived from India, was detained at the Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo before the government decided that the Ontario politician should be sent back to Chennai.

Sri Lankan officials said Rae was initially issued a visa to enter the country. But Colombo later decided to revoke it. By the time that decision was made, Rae had left Canada.

Rae had been critical of the military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that killed a large number of civilians. But he has also denounced the LTTE’s terror tactics.

After being told that he could not enter Sri Lanka, Rae accused Colombo of being “afraid of dialogue, afraid of discussion, afraid of engagement”.

He said when he reached the immigration with two Canadian high commission officials, he was told that he was being refused entry “on the grounds of national intelligence”.

He said he had been involved in Sri Lanka for over a decade and he had met many times with its political leaders as well as officials of the LTTE.

“To describe me as ‘an LTTE supporter’, as an army spokesman has done, is a lie, pure and simple.

“A review of my record would also show that I have been a champion of moderate Tamil opinion and Tamil dissent. I have been a steady critic of the abuses of human rights that were part of the LTTE’s tactics.

“This decision reflects on them, and not on me. I have fought against violence and extremism all my life. Everyone knows that, and the record of my actions, speeches and reports is there for all to see.

“What they now also know is that the government of Sri Lanka is afraid of dialogue, afraid of discussion, afraid of engagement.”

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