Response to comments attacking SLUNA - re 'to be diplomatic or not'

Rights of Reply

By Mahinda Gunasekera
Letter to editor

(July 02, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) It has been brought to my attention that certain comments have been posted in your website by persons giving the user name of "Jehan" and "Gam", wherein they have made wild allegations and untrue statements against other individuals in the expat community and our own community organization, i.e. SLUNA, with the intent of insulting, defaming and bringing them to public ridicule. Mr. Noor Nizam has responded to some these comments, and I shall confine myself to the damaging statements made against our association.

"Jehan" stated that SLUNA is the Sinhala equivalent of the Canadian Tamil Congress. Let me point out that ours is the Sri Lanka United National Association and not a Sinhala association, to which any Sri Lankan or other Canadian is free to join provided they subscribe to our objects of improving the relations between our motherland and our adopted homeland of Canada, and for developing friendly ties with people of different backgrounds who have made Canada their home. He further alleges that many in our group have gained entry to Canada as refugees having uttered lies about Sri Lanka. In the first place, he has no access to our register of members, nor is he the custodian of the refugee determination files of the Canadian Immigration authorities, and merely displays his utter disrespect for truth and complete disregard for the reputation of others.

"Gam" tries to get away with a string of lies and insulting un-named diplomats, individuals and SLUNA. We received the notice about the High Commissioner's wish to meet with the community on June 15th. In the absence of an agenda, I sent a personal communication to the HC on June 17th about the confusion and rumour prevailing within the community, and requesting that he call it off in the circumstances to avoid any ugly situation. The HC replied on June 18th apologising for the lack of an agenda and wrote stating that it was a meeting to reach out to the community, and that it would be held on June 19, 2009 as scheduled. SLUNA did not call up an emergency meeting on the night of June 18th to discuss the upcoming meeting nor disrupt the HC's meeting the next day as alleged by "Gam". SLUNA members are not required to follow any 'official line' when they interact with others individually or at public meetings as they enjoy complete freedom to express their views which forms their personal opinions. I would disagree that queries raised relating to the absence of an agenda, and procedure for electing a chairperson or moderator for the meeting amounts to heckling as stated by "Jehan" and "Gam", as these are valid points of order, although the particular persons may have been overly vocal in bringing same before the meeting.

"Gam" has alleged that Mr. Nizam had collected a lot of money with the help of a diplomat to take drugs given free by Canada's Pharma Companies. This man does not know what he is talking. It was SLUNA that raised $2,000.00 (including a personal contribution from Mr.Nizam) to cover the airfreight on two lots of Physicians Packs valued at $30,000.00 each to be shipped to the GMOA in Sri Lanka for treating the IDPs as well as the gallant men and women in Sri Lanka's security forces who suffered injuries in the military action to regain the country by eliminating the LTTE terrorists. We hold receipts from Relief Aid International of Hamilton and Health Partners International Canada in respect of the payments of $1,000.00 each covering the airfreight on the pharma products shipped to Sri Lanka.

SLUNA is an organization which has now functioned for the past 26 years effectively safeguarding the interests of our motherland and successfully lobbying Canada to ban the LTTE and its front organizations. We have also extended humanitarian assistance to the needy in Sri Lanka irrespective of ethnicity by partnering with Sri Lankan charities, including providing equipment to the Surgical Division of the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital, Ranaviru Sevana, Police Hospital, Moneragala Hospital Children's Ward, washroom facilities for rural schools and much more. We are proud to say that we raised over $20,000.00 in the past year alone to support project in Sri Lanka.

"Jehan" and "Gam" who are hiding behind their bogus assumed names probably think that it is a big thing to throw mud at others, to cover up their failings, as they have done nothing for their motherland. We do not hide our identities, and always sign our real names to what we have to state, be it a website or other publication.

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-Sri Lanka Guardian