Canada Should Reject the Appointment of the Genocidaire, Sumangala Dias

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Canada Should Reject the Appointment of the Genocidaire, Sumangala Dias, as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Canada

[Toronto, November 27, 2020] Air Marshal Sumangala Dias had been in various roles within the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF). The command responsibilities that he executed during Sri Lanka’s genocidal war against Tamil people, makes him a perpetrator of Tamil Genocide.

As a Senior Air Coordinator with SLAF, Sumangala Dias directly commanded the air operations that targeted and killed thousands of Tamil civilians. The SLAF indiscriminately bombed Tamil civilian targets, including hospitals, churches, temples, schools, and no-fire zones. The notorious SLAF used every method possible, including cluster bombs and phosphorus bombs, which are prohibited by the international treaty for use around civilian areas. The SLAF, Sri Lankan Government’s defense apparatus, is responsible for committing Genocide against Tamil people.

Sumangala Dias was appointed as Base Commander at SLAF Hingurakgoda Base, Sri Lanka, on June 1, 2005, from which many of the indiscriminate bombing missions against civilian targets originated. In 2008, he was appointed Senior Air Coordinator throughout the final stages of the war, coordinating SLAF operations with the ground operations of the 57, 58 and 59 military divisions, which have been credibly accused by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. These Sri Lankan army divisions are from the Gajaba regiment of the then Defense Secretary, and now President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Sri Lankan Government is now headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, both of whom led a genocidal war against the Tamil people on the island. They were both elected to power based on their virulent anti-Tamil rhetoric and promise to protect soldiers. The Rajapaksa brothers embraced the Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-nationalistic ideology to the fullest extent to come to power. Since assuming office, they have been appointing former senior military personnel to top Government positions and diplomatic postings abroad to take advantage of the diplomatic immunity.

Both Rajapaksa brothers have been continuing to deliberately deceive their crimes by hoodwinking the international community. An attempt by the Sri Lankan Government to hoodwink the Brazilian Government with the appointment of another Genocidaire, Jagath Jayasuriya, as an ambassador, which ended up in a fiasco when the appointee had to flee the country to escape from facing legal charges just prior to his acceptance.

Since 2009, Canada has taken an active role in seeking accountability and justice for the Tamil people, directly and through United Nations (UN) mechanisms, including passing an unanimous motion at the House of Commons on June 19th 2019 calling the “UN to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka, including during the last phase of the armed conflict in 2009”. Henceforth, as Tamil Canadians, we strongly believe Canada, also being a member of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC, and a champion of human rights, should reject a Genocidaire.

Thousands of Tamil Canadians lost family members and friends during this genocidal war. We are still working extremely hard to move forward from our lifelong intergenerational trauma. For a community dealing with such trauma, acknowledgement and recognition is an essential step in moving forward and healing. Tamil people have been struggling for a long time to get justice and accountability for the genocide committed against them. The passage of time, and the fact that few survivors remain who serve as reminders of indescribable brutality and torment, compel a sense of urgency to solidify recognition and reaffirmation of historical truth.

We continuously advocate for an international independent investigation and prosecutorial mechanism to hold Sri Lanka accountable for committing Tamil Genocide, and also advocate for a permanent political solution for the Tamil people based on the Tamil people's right to self-determination.

Therefore, we strongly urge and request our Canadian Government to:
- Reject the appointment of Genocidaire, Sumangala Dias, as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Canada.
- Thoroughly vet the credentials of all the Sri Lankan Government appointees before accepting them.

This request above is collectively endorsed by:
National Council of Canadian Tamils 
Brampton Tamil Association 
Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance 
Markham Tamil Organization
Mississauga Tamil Association
Ottawa Tamil Association
Quebec Tamil Development Association
Scarborough Tamil Association

Sources:

1. Conclusion of the UNHRC’s Panel of Experts: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/POC%20Rep%20on%20Account%20in%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf

2. ITJP’s Dosier on Brigadier Shavendra De Silva and the involvement of military division 57, 58 and 59: https://itjpsl.com/assets/shavendra-Silva_-finaldossier.pdf

3. Genocide, in the name of humanitarian operations by Sumangala Dias: http://www.airforce.lk/pages.php?pages=commander

4. Appointment of Military officials in the past: https://itjpsl.com/assets/press/English-ITJP_COVID-19-press-release-Mergedcopy.pdf

5. Appointment of Air Marshal Sumangala Dias: http://www.ft.lk/front-page/9-new-envoys-with-AF-Commander-picked-to-head-SLMission-in-Canada/44-708060