Canada on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four Sri Lankans, including former presidents Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, for committing what it called “gross and systematic violations of human rights” during the country’s civil war.
Sanctions have also been imposed on Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and Lt Commander Chandana P Hettiarachchithe, the Canadian foreign ministry said.
“The Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Regulations impose on listed persons a prohibition on any transaction (effectively, an asset freeze) by prohibiting persons in Canada and Canadians outside Canada from engaging in any activity related to any property of these listed persons or providing financial or related services to them,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The individuals listed in the Schedule to the Regulations are also rendered inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” it added.
Meanwhile local Daily Mirror quoted State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tharaka Balasuriya as saying that the sanctioning of former presidents Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa was “untimely” and was intended to pacify domestic elements in Canada.
Balasuriya said that the Foreign Ministry will raise strong objections with the Canadian High Commission to Sri Lanka, Eric Walsh.
“This shows who our friends really are and who are not,” he said.
The sanctions target former president Gotabaya, who resigned in July last after a massive protest against his government, and his elder brother Mahinda, who has held the titles of president and prime minister.
Gotabaya temporarily fled his country last summer after mass protests over the country’s economic crisis, while Mahinda resigned from his post as prime minister last spring.
Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese population had praised the brothers for defeating Tamil separatists after a 26-year civil war, which occurred from 1983 to 2009.
Also sanctioned are two senior military officers, including Ratnayake, whom a court sentenced to death for his role in a massacre of Tamils in 2000. He was later pardoned by the government.
Ottawa is also sanctioning Navy commander Hettiarachchi, who has been accused of abducting civilians who were later killed.
The LTTE ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. (PTI and Daily Mirror)