LYNNE Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), on Wednesday said that NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan is not under house arrest in Sri Lanka.
Yelich said: “Officials at the Canadian High Commission to Sri Lanka in Colombo and my staff have been in direct contact with Rathika Sitsabaiesan, Member of Parliament for Scarborough–Rouge River; she has confirmed her well-being and that she is at her hotel.
“Officials at the high commission spoke with relevant Sri Lankan police and immigration authorities, who said they have issued no arrest warrant for Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
“Canadian officials have also been in contact with Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada and confirm that media reports of a ‘house arrest’ are false.
“Ms. Sitsabaiesan’s visit to Sri Lanka is a private one. Canadian officials from the high commission remain in touch with her and will ensure she receives any assistance required.
“We will continue to monitor the situation until Ms. Sitsabaiesan returns home.”
IN a statement issued on Wednesday, Sitsabaiesan said: “For New Democrats, standing in solidarity with Canadians of Tamil heritage on matters of human rights is part of our shared values as Canadians.
“I recently arrived in Sri Lanka to visit my extended family and visit the places that were once home for me, during the earlier stages of my life and the civil war in Sri Lanka; but was subject to political intimidation. I was warned I could be subject to arrest and deportation, as several commonwealth MPs from New Zealand and Australia recently faced.
“I have received word from the Canadian High Commission in Colombo that the Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that their previous claims of an arrest warrant in my name does not exist and I now look forward to exploring and learning more about the country of my birth.
“My experiences since arriving in Sri Lanka are a reminder that defending principles of human rights is not easy, but I continue to believe that it is only through open dialogue and freedom of expression that people can ultimately achieve healing and reconciliation.
“New Democrats, like millions of Canadians, will continue to staunchly defend human rights and freedom of speech, in Canada and around the world.”