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Canada mentions Lanka at UN

2013 Oct 01

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird raised concerns of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, during his speech at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly today.

Baird said that since the last time the General Assembly met Sri Lanka has seen attacks on a mosque and on a Catholic church while Muslim politician Azad Sally had also been arrested.

Canada has been on a virtual war footing against Sri Lanka ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) with Baird last week pushing for human rights concerns on Sri Lanka to be taken seriously by the Commonwealth.

Baird made a last minute push to have Sri Lanka included in the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which met in New York on Friday, but the attempt failed.

A day earlier he told Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at a separate meeting in New York that his government will not be fully represented at the Sri Lanka summit.

Commonwealth foreign affairs ministers met in New York on the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry said the meeting provided an opportunity for ministers to discuss a troubling lack of progress in Sri Lanka. Canada has repeatedly called for Commonwealth engagement in response to Sri Lanka’s alleged violations of the Commonwealth’s core values and principles.

“I spoke out loudly and clearly on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on our concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, the lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community and with the events that have taken place since the end of the civil war,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said at that meeting.

“As the Prime Minister has stated very clearly, we expect our concerns to be addressed seriously by the Government of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, given the current circumstances in Sri Lanka and the lack of substantial progress to date, it would be difficult for the Government of Canada to fully participate,” he added.

Baird then looked to discuss the issue at the smaller, but influential CMAG meeting also in New York on Friday.

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