Canada Deeply Concerned by Mounting Civilian Casualties in Sri Lanka

(No. 23 - January 28, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today expressed Canada's concern over the increasing number of civilian casualties in northern Sri Lanka, the result of intensified fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which Canada has deemed a terrorist organisation since 2006. The Minister called on all parties to ensure that civilians are protected.

"Canada is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka," said Minister Cannon. "Recent developments underline the urgent need for progress toward a meaningful and durable political solution.

"Canada, with like-minded countries, will continue to deliver strong messages to all parties to the conflict about the importance of a return to the peace process and the need to promote and protect the values of freedom, human rights and the rule of law. Canada calls on all parties to allow full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers, and ensure the safe and voluntary movement of civilians from combat zones."

The Minister also expressed deep concern over the increase in violent attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka.

"The attacks on Sri Lankan journalists indicate an alarming deterioration in freedom of expression, which is essential to democracy," said Minister Cannon. "Canada strongly urges the parties to the conflict to uphold democracy by preventing the intimidation of the media. We also urge the government to conduct open and independent investigations into all attacks on journalists, and to hold those responsible to account."

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874