Posted on March 25th, 2010

Lankaweb News

The Sri Lankan community in Ottawa honoured the founders of Project Peace for a United Sri Lanka (“ƒ”¹…”Project Peace’) at a sold-out function the night of March 20th. Asoka Weerasinghe, Asoka Yapa, and Harrison Perera were cited for their extraordinary 27-year battle to protect the name and reputation of Sri Lanka from the depredations of the well-financed and vigorous LTTE lobby in Canada. Along with the Sri Lanka United National Association (SLUNA) in Toronto, the High Commission in Ottawa and, of recent, the Consulate General in Toronto, Project Peace was a bulwark against a sustained and sophisticated Tamil Tiger campaign.

 Organizers Rohan Basnayake, Anoma de Silva, and K.B. Hippola spared no effort. A marvellous and warm venue, an excellent repast, and much camaraderie featured in a smoothly-run event. The High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Canada, Chitranganie Wagiswara, was the Guest of Honour while Chief Guests Asoka Weerasinghe and Asoka Yapa were greeted and thanked by the attendees. Chief Guest Harrison Perera, who now resides in Sri Lanka, was unable to be present but was ably represented by two daughters Chamari and Kumari who came to the function from the Greater Toronto Area.

 A minute of silence was observed to honour and commemorate the fallen in Sri Lanka during the war on terror.

 Rohan Basnayake set the context with an opening speech at which he referred to the work of Project Peace and the difficult and, sometimes, dangerous conditions under which they worked. Death threats from Tiger activists were not uncommon. Her Excellency the High Commissioner then spoke. While she spoke very appreciatively of the role Sri Lankan expat communities played in managing the reputation of the motherland, the bulk of her comments were directed towards future economic development in Sri Lanka and the role expatriate Sri Lankans could play. As someone who had worked with Asoka Weerasinghe, she referred to his passion when it came to Sri Lankan matters. A message was then read from Bandula Jayasekera, until recently Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Toronto, where he thanked the two Asokas for the assistance they provided at a time of immense challenge in this capital of Western Eelam.

 George Grande, former High Commissioner for Canada in Sri Lanka and former editorial columnist at The Ottawa Citizen, spoke of his connections with Project Peace. Mr. Grande was the first Canadian writer to explicitly support Sri Lanka in her long struggle against terrorism and to write perceptively about the situation. Mahinda Gunasekera, President of SLUNA, then paid tribute to Asoka Weerasinghe. At a parliamentary hearing at the Canadian House of Commons, when confronted with a claim by a Tiger activist of a “ƒ”¹…”Tamil Homeland’ in the North and East of Sri Lanka, Asoka had shot back, “Mr. ___, may I point out that it is not only a homeland for the Tamil people, it is also an historical homeland for the Sinhalese and the Muslims and elephants and leopards and bear and deer!” Ira de Silva, former President of SLUNA, also paid tribute to the work of Project Peace.

 Harrison Perera’s message was read by his daughter Chamari. He paid tribute to Asoka Weerasinghe’s superhuman efforts over the years. Asoka Yapa then spoke. He described the day in early August 1983 when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked for an interview about the conflict and how, when broadcast, the program gave a completely false impression, an impression based on the interviewer’s preconception of what had taken place on July 13th. A religious dimension was given to what was an ethnic problem caused by a terrorist provocation. This was emblematic of Canadian coverage of Sri Lanka’s conflict: oversimplified, hurried, half-baked analyses. The amoral involvement of Canadian politicians was also touched on, selling one’s soul for bloodstained money and votes.

 Asoka Weerasinghe got up to rousing applause, appropriate for someone who has done so much for his motherland (how about 595 letters published in Canadian newspapers for a start?). He described some of his experiences confronting LTTE thugs and front men. The Tamil Tigers made a major strategic mistake when they tried to threaten and intimidate Asoka! It simply spurred him on. The audience was fascinated by this background and to hear about the concern for his family — but an even greater determination to confront the liars amongst the LTTE propagandists and the rotten Liberal and NDP party politicians who gave political cover to Tiger thugs within Canada and Tiger funding of terrorist acts in far away Sri Lanka. Typically, he did not mince his words. Anoma de Silva closed off the enjoyable event by summarizing the evening’s narrative and by thanking all those who attended.

 ACY , March 23/10


  1. Chintha Says:

    Asoka and others,

    Thank you for the dedicated time and effort by these patriots to defend our motherland aginst the unjust and untruth. We appreciate you all very much and you are a true inspiration to all Sri Lankans. I am dreaming of the day when all SL patriotic forces throughout the world get to gether and form a world body to safeguard SL interest against seperatism and to fight all the lies and misinformation against our mother land.

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