HR advocates Harini Sivalingam, Gary Anandasangaree and Basil Fernando

Re: Defamatory Listing on “WHO’S WHO OF SOME LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] ACTIVISTS, OPPONENTS etc. PAST AND PRESENT” of human rights advocates Harini Sivalingam, Gary Anandasangaree and Basil Fernando.

To: Dr. Chandre Dharma-Wardana

From: Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

Date: 2011-01-11

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) [1] notes with alarm the publication of defamatory and untrue statements on the website under the url: (the website) identifying Canadian lawyers Harini Sivalingam [2] and Gary Anandasangaree [3] and the Hong Kong-based Executive Director of the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), Basil Fernando as supporters of LTTE. As you are aware Canada proscribed the LTTE in 2006 and it is an indictable offense in Canada to provide financial support to or otherwise facilitate the LTTE.

LRWC is closely associated with all three individuals: Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree are LRWC members and LRWC frequently works with ALRC. We note that statements about Mr. Fernando have been removed from the website. We write to demand that you and your organization immediately remove the names of Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree and take steps to contain and remedy the harm caused or potentially caused by the publication of statements wrongly identifying them as LTTE supporters.

By posting these erroneous statements—which are both defamatory and slanderous—you have exposed Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree to the possibility of unwarranted retaliation and have put their professional, personal and economic security in jeopardy. The untrue accusations also impugn—by association—the reputation of LRWC. An immediate and unequivocal apology for and retraction of these damaging accusations is necessary.

LRWC demands that you and your organization:

1. Immediately remove the names of, and statements about Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree from the website; and,

2. Provide each of them with a full apology and retraction; and,

3. Provide full particulars of the parties that may have accessed the erroneous and damaging statements about Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree, including without limitation, officials and agents of the Canadian and other governments.

4. Advise each of the above mentioned recipients that statements posted on the website about Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree are untrue and provide each recipient with a copy of your apology and unreserved retraction; and,

5. Provide copies and records of all and any communications you or your organization received or sent regarding Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree.

Ms Sivalingam and Mr. Anandasangaree are respected Canadian lawyers specializing in human rights. They are also valued members of LRWC. Ms Sivalingam is a member of the Board of Directors of LRWC and currently holds the office of Treasurer. She also serves as the LRWC Sri Lanka Monitor. In the latter capacity she has written reports, organized a major education event and represented LRWC at the United Nations. Ms Sivalingam is also an active member of several other Canadian public service organizations, including, the Canadian Tamil Congress. Ms Sivalingam has a long history of advocating for human rights. She was a Canadian delegate to the United Nations Anti-Racism conference in Durban in 2000. She has worked with NGO’s in Geneva and New York and has written and published on issues relating to human rights.

Gary Anandasangaree has represented LRWC at sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN General Assembly in New York. Mr. Anandasangaree is the Legal Council for the Canadian Tamil Congress and as such, he has assisted with the arrival of Tamil refugees to British Columbia. The Canadian Tamil Congress has in recent months been the target of a break-in.

With respect to Mr. Fernando, LRWC has worked for several years with the ALRC and Mr. Fernando on human rights issues in Asia, including Sri Lanka. As LRWC and ALRC both enjoy ECOSOC status with the United Nations, cooperation between LRWC and ALRC extends to filing joint reports and statements with the UN Human Rights Council. ALRC’s work and Mr. Fernando’s leadership in identifying human rights violations and effective remedial strategies have inspired our respect and admiration.