Request to Impose Sanctions on Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Ottawa Tamil Association sent this request to Canadian Parliamentarians on September 12, 2022.

Request to Impose Sanctions on Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Ottawa Tamil Association thanks you for your continuous solidarity. Attached are two letters that we sent recently to our Foreign Minister. We request Global Affairs Canada to apply targeted sanctions on former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of genocide. We also request that Canada support an international warrant for the arrest of both Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and of Mahinda Rajapaksa (former Sri Lankan President and brother of Gotabaya), through the Interpol agency. These arrest warrants may then be executed via universal jurisdiction if either brother enters the territory of a state that participates in Interpol.

The cruelty of the crimes committed by Sri Lankan government forces in 2009 goes beyond the imagination. It shows extreme hatred towards the Tamils. The UK Channel 4 video documentaries show some of these atrocities. The UNHRC failed to collect evidence of crimes of genocide. The UNHRC internal investigation report in 2012 shed the lack of will to either stop the genocide or document the evidence. The Sri Lankan military had confidence that they would never be prosecuted for their crimes and it has proved true so far. The Tamil victims and witnesses were further humiliated and their voices were suppressed by the continuous ban on civil liberties. The Tamil diaspora suspects that there is an effort to cover up Sri Lanka’s crimes by geopolitical powers.

As you may know, former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa were in charge of the military in 2009. Both the brothers are still roaming free, with protection from the Sri Lankan government. To provide hope for justice, we urge our Canadian government to apply sanctions on the brothers, and seek your support for international arrest warrants against both of them. . The USA applied sanctions on a few Sri Lankan military commanders.  The ITPJ ( submitted a dossier against Rajapaksa and produced several detailed reports.

The Tamil diaspora and human rights activists have been taking the initiative to present the evidence via the Permanent People Tribunals ( and other possible avenues as the UN system favors State actors over people. Even though Eelam Tamils were a sovereign people with a functioning government in Tamil Eelam until 2009, due to India’s geopolitical interests, they couldn’t achieve separation as Bangladesh did, nor a self-determination-based federal solution. 

Without recognition of Tamil statehood or the status of a Non-Self-Governing territory at the UN, Tamils are still struggling to get their voices heard at the UN and heavily rely on the Tamil diaspora and civilized nations to push for justice. The UNHRC Commissioner’s report on September 6, 2022, reiterated last year’s recommendation that “Explore further targeted sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against those credibly alleged to have perpetrated gross international human rights violations or serious humanitarian law violations”. Tamils were clearly asking to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC since 2009.

As the UNHRC is unable to enforce its own resolution that mandated the Hybrid court in 2015, we urge Canadian foreign affairs to apply immediate sanctions on Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa and to support an international arrest warrant for them

to be executed by universal jurisdiction, so that hope for justice will prevail for the nations around the world who do not have member status at the UN.

We request your support for the sanctions and arrest of the Rajapaksa brothers as an immediate step.

Thank you,

Ottawa Tamil Association.


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