Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada better known as SLUNA was a tower of strength to me during my assignment in Toronto. There isn’t any other organisation like SLUNA in Canada which has supported Sri Lanka throughout. The organization continues to stand by Sri Lanka having completed 32 years of service.

The battle by SLUNA to safeguard the territorial integrity and independence of Sri Lanka and the tireless and brave efforts made by the organisation to counter anti Sri Lanka propaganda by the LTTE terrorists and other interested parties, even by certain Canadian politicians is highly commendable. The organization never waited for Sri Lankan diplomats or the government of Sri Lanka to do their duty. Members of SLUNA took great pains and trouble. They dug deep into their own pockets to help the country. They were at great risk. They faced the wrath of the murderous LTTE in Canada. However they were never afraid.

SLUNA was formally incorporated in March 1985 and carried the flags of both Sri Lanka and Canada to building bridges between the two countries against a bitter and a large enemy terrorist group which was hell bent on both tarnishing and misleading the Canadian public. In May 1985 SLUNA held an International Conference in Toronto and established the World Federation of Sri Lanka Associations. Let’s not forget it was just two years after the bloody and unfortunate 1983 riots in Sri Lanka. SLUNA got in to action very soon and even got petitioned the Ontario Press Council and obtained an Adjudication against the ‘Toronto Star’ In 2008/2009, I was still battling the Pro LTTE ‘Toronto Star’ . Way back in 1986 the association raised $12,500 for the Sri Lanka Security Forces Welfare Fund. I sincerely hope that those who paid 35,000 rupees to see Enrique Iglesias and never gave a cent to the valiant security forces or displaced Sri Lankans will remember that they were able to attend the concert because the valiant security forces sacrificed their lives and limbs.

SLUNA played an active and important role in getting both the LTTE terrorists and its front WTM banned in Canada. It is wrong for the government of Sri Lanka to take that credit. When Sri Lankan politicians and even certain diplomats played politics SLUNA fought single minded to get them banned. Way back in October 1986 , they sent out a special mail of Sri Lankan material to over 2000 Federal and Provincial parliamentarians across Canada. In 1989 they lobbied 26 members of Canada’s parliamentary foreign relations committee to seek the banning of the LTTE terrorists. In 1990 SLUNA organised a Canadian delegates conference to discuss strategy in lobbying the Canadian government to seek the outlawing of the LTTE terrorists and its front organisations. They carried out intense lobbying among the Canadian media and politicians. In 1996 , SLUNA presented a petition with thousands of signatures to the House of Commons thro Val Meredith , MP seeking the designation of the LTTE as a terrorist group in Canada , which the MP read into the Hansard. SLUNA is also having credited of having held the Sri Lanka Independence Day Celebrations including the grand 50th.

SLUNA continued with its battle fearlessly to ban the LTTE in Canada and in 1998 petitioned the Canadian Prime Minister seeking the proscription of the LTTE. They protested to the Ontario legislature on a proposed bill by Jim Brown MPP to exempt two LTTE fronts WTM and TESOC offices from property taxes. The matter was not taken up due to protest by SLUNA. Another victory against its battle against the ruthless LTTE and its supporters in Canada. In the year 2000, SLUNA published a 118 page report compiled with special assistance of Dr Rohan Gunaratna on the LTTE’s organisation and its key activist in Canada for submission to the government. This document helped me immensely in countering the LTTE and exposing them to Canada and to the world. SLUNA in its battle to get the LTTE banned in Canada held a successful demonstration outside the House of Commons in Ottawa. SLUNA faced a horrifying lawsuit by TVI claiming $ 7.75 million because they objected to the Canadian Telecommunication Regulatory Commission granting a license to TVI. However, the case was later withdrawn by TVI

SLUNA took part in a round table conference on the anti terrorism act organised by the Ministry of Justice , Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and succeeded in having its submissions included on page 6 of the report presented to the parliamentary review committee. SLUNA continued to lobby and meet with Stockwell Day MP to seek the Conservative Party support to list the LTTE in terms of Bill C36 under the Special Criminal Code provisions. In 2006 SLUNA’s efforts through out the years saw results after the Conservative government banned the LTTE. They had a meeting with Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, Jason Kenney MP and Matthew John from the Prime Ministers office to thank the government of Canada for outlawing the LTTE and even followed up with a media conference in theHouse of Commons press gallery . The continuous engagement they had with Stockwell Day and Jason Keeney became useful. In 2008 SLUNA presented a petition through Art Hanger MP to the House of Commons seeking further measures to prevent raising funds by LTTE front organisations such as WTM, TRO and others. Canadian government went further and banned the WTM to the delight of SLUNA.

SLUNA stood by Sri Lanka and helped the needy and even carried out social service activities and helped the needy security forces and those innocent civilians affected by terrorism. They even helped victims of Hurricane Katrina and Earthquake victims in Pakistan. They fought against the glorification of terrorism. I couldn’t have completed my Assignment Toronto without the support of the fearless SLUNA.

I salute you Daya Hettiarachchi, Ira de Silva, Asoka Weerasinghe, Mahinda Gunasekara, Asoka Yapa, Hasaka Ratnamalala, Prathap Perera, Menaka Karunanayake, Kamlesh and Sasha Karunayake and all the members past and present (I regret my inability to mention all your names here ) of SLUNA for your dedicated service to Sri Lanka.

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