CANADA CONDEMNS THE MURDER OF SRI LANKAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT DR. NEELAN TIRUCHELVAM
Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) Raymond Chan today strongly condemned the murder of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam on July 29, 1999.
Dr. Tiruchelvam was a leading figure in the search for a peaceful solution to Sri Lanka's long-standing ethnic conflict, as well as a tireless advocate for human rights. He was a Member of Parliament, a Constitutional Lawyer, Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), and Director of the Law and Society Trust.
"This crime has silenced the voice of a man who was committed to the path of peace, but it must not silence those in Sri Lanka who have the courage to follow Dr. Tiruchelvam's lead," said Mr. Axworthy. "Canada expresses its sympathies and condolences to Dr. Tiruchelvam's family and colleagues, and we call on the government of Sri Lanka to undertake a vigorous and rapid investigation of this crime and to bring those responsible to justice."
Mr. Chan expressed his personal sadness on hearing the news. "During our meeting in Sri Lanka, in June 1995, Dr. Tiruchelvam and I discussed a wide array of societal and governmental problems that he was trying to address through his work at the ICES. His contributions to civil society in Sri Lanka will be sorely missed."
Dr. Tiruchelvam's murder by a suicide bomber is seen as an attempt by extremist elements within Sri Lanka to derail imminent constitutional reforms that Dr. Tiruchelvam was instrumental in drafting.
Canada has supported the ICES and the Law and Society Trust through the Human Rights Fund, Peacebuilding Fund and Canada Fund. Other organizations working toward deepening the commitment to human rights, good governance and conflict resolution have also received support.