Sampanthan declared ‘living hero’, funds for Sampur resettlement announced

by Shamindra Ferdinando

An influential Canadian Diaspora organization which had been proscribed by the previous Sri Lankan government for being an LTTE front has provided funds for resettlement of the war displaced at Sampur in the Trincomalee district.

The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) had recently raised over $ 110,000 for Sampur resettlement project, diaspora sources told The Island.

Sources said the CTC had raised nearly $ 300,000 over the six previous years for the benefit of Canadian charities.

The influential CTC had been among the eight diaspora groups which were cleared by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government on Nov. 20, 2015. In addition to the groups, the government cleared 267 individuals of terrorism charges.

The previous government blacklisted 16 groups and 424 individuals in March 2014. The group of cleared organizations comprised the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), British Tamil Forum (BTF), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), World Tamil Movement (WTM), Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT), World Tamil Coordination Committee (WTCC), Tamil National Council (TNC), and the Tamil Youth Organization (TYO).

The CTC announced its decision to provide basic housing for 41 families at its 9th annual Pongal dinner joined by about 1,000 people on January 16 at the Hilton Suites in Markham. The gathering was told of the raising of over $ 110,000 for war displaced in Eastern Sri Lanka and the CTC’s role in the passage of Geneva resolution last Oct to pave the way for hybrid war crimes court.

The Geneva resolution called for inclusion of Commonwealth and other international judges as well as other foreign experts in the process.

Canadian Foreign Minister, Stephane Dion, Ontario Prime Minister Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory, GTF President Fr. S.J. Emmanuel, GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran, Canadian Ministers, John McCallum, Dr. Jane Philpott and Dr. Kirsty Duncan, New Democratic party leader Andrea Howarth, Stouffville Mayor Justin Altman and York Region Police Chief Eric Jolliffe, had been among those present on the occasion, according to the GTF. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.issued a congradulatory message through Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, thereby underscoring the importance of the event.

CTC President Raj Thavaratnasingham has explained his organization’s role in having the US-spearheaded resolution adopted at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Oct 1, 2015. Thavaratnasingham declared that the CTC was not happy with the pace at which the changes were taking place in Sri Lanka. However, the CTC chief appreciated, the efforts being made to steer Sri Lanka in the right direction.Thavaratnasingham thanked the role played by the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in meeting the aspirations of Tamil speaking people.??

The CTC said: “Three awards were presented to deserving individuals. This year’s “Service Excellence Award” was awarded to Ratheesan Yoganatan, President and CEO of Lebara. The Leaders for Change Award was presented to. John Cartwright, President of Toronto and York region Labour Council..The ‘Living Hero’ award was presented to TNA and Opposition Leader in Sri Lanka. Rajavarothayam .Sampanthan. The award recognizes the work of heroic individuals for their selfless work in bettering the lives of others. The award is given to a person of Tamil origin who has demonstrated exemplary leadership, courage, empathy and services in challenging circumstances. This award was presented by GTF president Fr. S.J. Emmanuel and CTC board of director Suresh Muththiah. TNA spokesperson and MP. M. A. Sumanthiran accepted the award on behalf of Sampanthan.”

Diaspora sources said that the TNA-GTF as well as as several other like-minded organisations had been seeking an understanding with the new government in respect of post-war national reconciliation process.