Canadian HC responds to Sri Lanka HR situation like ‘elephant in room’


Apropos our front page lead story headlined ‘Sri Lanka HR situation like ‘elephant in room-Canada’ on Dec 5 edition, Canadian High Commissioner Shelley Whiting has sent us the following statement dated Dec 11: "It is unfortunate that facts were not verified prior to publication of the article. Contrary to what was reported, it was due to the sudden cancellation of the flight to Jaffna that Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for international human rights was compelled to take the overland route. The private airline informed us at short notice that flights were cancelled due to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Once in Jaffna, Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai continued with his planned programme."

Conservative MPs, Corneliu Chisu and Deepak Obhrai

HC Whiting said that she was responding to lead story which dealt with an interview given by the Parliamentary Secretary after his return to Canada.

Asked whether Canadian HC could name the private airline concerned, a spokesperson for the mission said: "It was a private airline that operated flights to Jaffna. Tickets had been issued by the airline well in advance of the delegation’s planned travel. The flight was cancelled by email on very short notice."

The Canadian HC didn’t respond to query whether it asked for SLAF to facilitate the delegation’s visit.

News Editor: The story was based on a statement given by Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai to a group of Conservative supporters soon after his return to Canada. Seated next to him was Conservative MP, Corneliu Chisu. Having lambasted the Sri Lankan government for depriving the people of all communities of basic democratic freedoms, Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai alleged: "They were not…Sri Lankan government said that they were shutting down flights to Jaffna for security reasons."

The SLAF told The Island that Canada never asked for air passage though both requests made by the British HC as well as New Zealand was met.

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