Army decries Wushu champ’s political asylum attempt in Canada

Sinha Regiment Captain in unprecedented move


By Shamindra Ferdinando

A Sinha Regiment deserter, seeking permanent residency in Canada, has accused the Sri Lankan army of widespread atrocities against Tamil speaking people during the Eelam war IV (Aug 2006-May 2009).

Captain W. B. R. Priyashantha, aka Ravindra Watudura Bandanage, has also claimed that he has received instructions from a Colonel to place bomb making material at the residence of TNA MP M. K. Sivajilingam during the conflict. However, he didn’t identify the Colonel or reveal his regiment.

The National Post website, last Friday (Nov. 30), published an article captioned "Sri Lankan Army deserter gives ‘rare’ insider account of government forces torturing civilians."

"I think it’s very significant," National Post quoted John Argue, Amnesty International Canada’s coordinator for Sri Lanka as having said of the ex-soldier’s allegations.

"I hope it gets discussed publicly because then we get closer to what really happened at the last stages of the armed conflict and could have a serious discussion about accountability."

The Sri Lankan forces routinely framed government opponents during the war to discredit them and justify their arrests, The National Post quoted Gary Anandasangaree, a Toronto lawyer, as having said. Gary is the only son of TULF leader V. Anandasangaree.Bandanage told the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) that his life was at risk if he went back to Sri Lanka. The IRB dismissed Bandanage’s refuge claim. The Federal Court of Canada dismissed the deserter’s appeal.

Responding to allegations, the Defence Ministry yesterday said that Bandanage had sought asylum after entering Canada in Nov. 2009 as Sri Lanka’s Wushu coach. Bandanage was with the Sri Lankan team for the 10th World Wushu championship.

A senior MoD official told The Island that as Bandanage had left the hotel where the team was staying even without settling bills, his colleagues returned to Colombo at the conclusion of the conflict leaving him behind. "We lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and brought this to the notice of the Canadian High Commission in Colombo," the official said.

Having joined the army in 1993, Bandanage served in various parts of the country, though he was stationed in and around Colombo during the Eelam war IV (Aug 2006-May 2009), the official said. The bottom line was that Bandanage was nowhere near operational areas, he said. According to the official, the asylum seeker hadn’t been involved in cordon and search operations mounted against the LTTE, though he spoke of security operations in a bid to deceive the Canadians.

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