In enlightened Toronto, the National Post, that leading Canadian broadsheet, ever on the alert to report on bad stuff, particularly about foreigners, not long ago struck a blow for freedom, humanity and motherhood, of a sort. Commodore Nadarajah Kuruparan, a Sri Lankan naval officer, had arrived at the Canadian border in August about four years ago with his wife and two children, and made a claim for refugee status.
With typical dispatch, the Canadian Federal border officials and the Federal Court took only three years to review the case, during which time, the fleeing refugees were offered typical Canadian largesse, including the equivalent of a pension plan, old-age security and supplemental assistance, roughly twice the emolument showered on Canada’s indigents and bereft old folks. (They don’t have food stamps in Canada, or they probably would have thrown them in, too.) At last, the decision was handed down – or up – to the fleeing Sri Lankans. The verdict was, there’s no place in Canada for the likes of you, because you’re guilty of crimes against humanity.
The Commodore Kuruparan case has a couple of wrinkles not escaping the scrutiny of both Camadian Immigration and the ever watchful National Post. First, it appears that the Commodore was only one in five senior Sri Lankan naval officers who also happened to be a Tamil. That’s good. But apparently he participated – as was the wont of all senior Sri Lankan military and naval senior officers – in the despicable reign of terror and genocide that took place for many years in that beleaguered island nation. That’s bad. But now, it appeared that he was being hounded and sought by the high command back in his own country because of the fact that he was a Tamil. That’s good. But not good enough, by superior Canadian moral standards.
“The Federal officials,” saith the National Post, “are refusing to accept his refugee claim on the grounds that he was complicit in war crimes during the troubled island’s long civil war against Tamil rebels.”
If there’s one thing that official Canada can’t stand more than rebels like William Lyon McKenzie, Louis Riel and the United States, it’s war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
And official Canada simply has no use for genocide. That is, with the single exception of the home-grown variety, which is an offshoot of the North American and Western Hemispherean types of genocide. Why, just four or five years ago, just to show how anti-genocidal we are, McGill University in Montreal was the locus for a huge international conference, symposium and general piss-up on Genocide, headlining such heavy hitters as former Prime Minister Joe Clark (albeit only PM during a brief interregnum between Liberal governments) and General Romeo Dallaire – former commanding general of UN forces in Rwanda.
The one thing missing in this scholarly curriculum was Canada’s own record of genocide between 1534 and 2008. It isn’t the purpose of the current dispatch to go into details about the McGill shindig, but suffice it to say that Indians weren’t allowed to produce any workshops, study groups or plenary sessions, unless they were law professors, judges like Murray Sinclair or former Prime Ministers. (There haven’t been any indigenous Primeaus, although John Diefenbaker is rumored to have had a little Cree blanket bingo in his genealogy.)
Getting back to defending our borders against unlawful immigrants, the Commodore in question “said he feared the government, pro-government militias and rebels,” but Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) ruled that he was not a genuine refugee under Canadian rules because he was complicit in crimes against humanity. That apparently was good enough for the National Post. The Toronto-based newspaper said that his appeal to the Federal Court of Canada was subsequently dismissed, and he and his family faced deportation to Sri Lanka.
“The extensive sources of evidence, including references to tens of thousands of disappearances and the institutionalization of torture, supports a finding that the navy and security forces’ acts were part of a widespread or systematic attack on Sri Lanka,” according to Federal Court Justice John O’Keefe in his 50-page decision on his case.
Mr. Justice O’Keefe’s 50 pages constitute an official Canadian finding that Sri Lankan security forces committed widespread war crimes, which is the important point. Commodore Kurupara’s participation “in the darker aspects of those operations,” while the Court’s initial concern, was only the entry point for Canada’s landmark righteousness.
“The navy (was) an organization that was known to regularly and systematically commit human rights abuses against the LTTE, the Tamil population and individuals suspected or perceived to be LTTE collaborators or sympathizer,” the National Post report concluded.
This is significant, because it marks the first time that any government or a judiciary outside Sri Lanka has publicly and officially held that the Sri Lankan Security Forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels. Going further, Canada has demanded an international probe into the widespread allegations of war crimes by the Sri Lankan government.
The Canadian ruling had wider implications. Australia, another sterling example of colonial racial engineering and indigenous genocide, was quick to get into the condemnation business. Commenting on the ruling by the Canadian Federal Court and IRB, Australian Greens Senator for New South Wales Lee Rhiannon, questioned Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s moral high ground to retain former Sri Lankan Navy Chief Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe as the High Commissioner to Australia.
“If the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has reportedly ruled that Nadarajah Kuruparan is not a genuine refugee because he is complicit in crimes against humanity, then it is important to ask why a former Sri Lankan Naval Admiral still holds the position of High Commissioner in Australia.”
If Canada’s request for an international probe happens, it’s to be hoped that it probes deeper than Canada’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent $68 million probing, because the TRC is mandated not to name any names or grab any asses – particularly religious ones – but merely to talk about “healing.” An international court – or even UN committee – might well caution Canada: “Probe not, lest ye be probed.”
Whether in Sri Lanka or in squeaky-clean Ottawa, it all depends on whose ox is being gored; c’est à dire, whose posterior is being probed.