"An international group "Canadians for Genocide Education" which is an umbrella organisation with some 46 Member Associations annually picks ONE country of greatest concern re Genocide. The country picked in 2008 was Sri Lanka, and I was picked as the "Distinguished Speaker" and given an award... The plaque reads "Canadians for Genocide Education EDUCATORS AWARD 2009 Presented on March 25, 2009 to: Dr Brian Senewiratne In recognition of his dedication to inclusivity and equity in genocide education""
I was invited to come to Canada and receive the award My presentation was titled Peace with Justice in Sri Lanka Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils. It's Causes & Solution .
It was held in the University of Toronto before a distinguished audience of academics, policy makers etc The hall was packed to capacity The flyer describing me was way over the top (as it usually is)...
The SL Govt coote Bandula Jayasekere, or to use his official title, His Excellency The Hon Bandula, etc, tried their best to block this but failed. Then they got their stooges e.g. Asoka Weerasinghe (patriot) to write scurrilous articles, published in the Mirror ?in Sri Lanka, to the Canadian Foreign Minister asking whether he had taken leave of his senses to allow me into the country.
Unable to block my entry, the next was harassment at Toronto airport ( a 4-hour search of everything, including downloading of every document including my letters to patients and going thru every scrap of paper (hundreds of pages of hand written notes, articles etc, and photocopying them all) It took about 4 hours and I was kept standing (that was after a 23-hour flight economy class which at 78 years is no small problem)
What riled the SL govt even more is action by a bunch (of goats) who are exploring putting my name up for a Nobel Prize for Peace. That is of course a nonsense project but with a one in a million chance, if it materializes, that would be a major blow for Sri Lanka. My very close association with Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu (I think I sent the photo with his arm round my shoulder) added to the concerns of the GoSL
What also of concern was that at the end of my Oration, the whole jolly audience of some 350, rose to their feet (I'll send the recording if/when I get it). This was recorded and sent to the Sri Lankan Ambassador and t the Govt in Colombo. Their blood pressures went thru the ceiling
I was scheduled to deliver the same award winning address in Malaysia (KL and Penang) and in Singapore, some 48 hours after it was delivered in Toronto.
Urgent action was needed. Someone ?Foreign Minister Bogollagama contacted the FM of Malaysia, who contacted the Minister of Home Affairs who contacted the CID who contacted Immigration asking them to prevent me entering the country stating I was a "Security risk"!!!!!
I said that if a 78-year old senile man was security risk for Malaysia, they should urgently review their Security set-up I smiled and asked that arrangements be made for me to get to Singapore. They said "tour ticket os from Penang. You cannot get to Penang because you cannot enter Malaysia, so you will have to buy yourself a ticket (which I did). I was then escorted to the plane by 6 police officers and an Immigration fellow.
While waiting for the flight (for 3 hours) I gave the bunch a lengthy talk on Human Rights abuse in Sri Lanka"!!!
At the end, when the flight was called, I went round to shake each one's hand. One of them, a policeman, grabbed my hand and would not let it go. Struggling to suppress tears which were welling up, he said "Doctor, all of us are deeply concerned at what we have been asked to do. Please don't hold it against us or Malaysia."
I gave him a big hug and said "Of course I will not"
Not prepared to run the risk of a repeat performance in Singapore (where I knew Bogollagam was - having got there to persuade Malaysian Tamils to come to Sri Lanka to invest there!!), I decided to cancel the Singapore meeting and returned to Australia, where the harassment continued at Immigration here in my native Brisbane airport.
This will be raised in the Australian Parliament.
Regards and thanks for you effort which is much appreciated