Calls grow for apology after Peel Police Chief meets Deshabandu

<p><img src="" alt="Featured Image"></p><p><!-- wp:html --><p>Pressure was mounting from members of the public and elected officials for the chief of one of Canada's biggest police forces to apologise for meeting IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon, Global Media of Canada said yesterday.</p>
<p>Tamil Canadians, including Toronto city councillor Parthi Kandavel, are calling the visit "deeply upsetting to all Canadians."</p>
<p>Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah serves Mississauga, Brampton and Pearson airport and runs the third-largest municipal police service in the country. Duraiappah recently travelled to Sri Lanka, his country of birth, on what Peel described as "personal trip."</p>
<p>Photos published by Lankan media show Duraiappah posing alongside IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon, on Dec 29, 2023, in Colombo.</p>
<p>Two weeks earlier, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court said Tennakoon had been involved in the brutal arrest and torture of a man there.</p>
<p>"Tamil Canadians are hurt and demand a full and clear apology for this trip," Kandavel told Global News. "It brings (the Peel chief's) judgment into question, and it needs to be addressed by an explanation."</p>
<p>The Peel Police Chief declined Global News' request for an interview and did not answer repeated questions about the meeting.</p>
<p>Last week, a Peel Regional Police spokesperson said Duraiappah discussed the requests with Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP beforehand.</p>
<p>Both agencies told Global News they did not organize the visit, while the Mounties said they informed Duraiappah about the Supreme Court ruling against Tennakoon ahead of time.</p>
<p>"The (Peel) Police Board needs to take some action against him and say, 'Look, what you did was wrong. You've offended a large population of the community that lives here,'" Ram Selvarajah, the President of the Peel Regional Labour Council, told Global News.</p>
<p>Selvarajah said Duraiappah's appointment as the chief of Peel Police five years ago was a source of pride for Tamil Canadians.</p>
<p>That's why his meeting with Tennakoon was "highly disappointing," Selvarajah said.</p>
<p>"I don't know how many police officers bring their uniform on vacation," he added.</p>
<p>Criminal defence lawyer Krisna Saravanamuttu, who came to Canada as a Tamil refugee, called Duraiappah's visit "a mistake that demands some accountability."</p>
<p>Saravanamuttu, who works in the Greater Toronto Area and specializes in police misconduct, said Duraiappah's meeting raises "all sorts of questions about what the Police Chief was doing and why he has yet to provide any type of meaningful response to the community's concerns."</p>
<p>The Peel spokesperson said there is "no ongoing initiative or collaboration between Peel Regional Police and any organization in Sri Lanka."</p>
<p>But Saravanamuttu wants a "guarantee" from the force  that it will have "no relationship whatsoever with their counterparts in Sri Lanka because … what kind of signal does it send to Tamil community members, many of whom have lived through state violence."</p>
<p>Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered a grim assessment on the current situation.</p>
<p>"I remain deeply concerned about recurring, credible accounts received by my office of abductions, unlawful detention and torture, including sexual violence by the Sri Lankan police," commissioner Volker Türk told the UN Human Rights Council March 1.</p>
<p>Türk also condemned the appointment of Tennakoon, saying it highlights the need for reform.</p>
<p>It's against this backdrop Toronto District School Board trustee Yalini Rajakulasingam found the Peel Chief's visit "unacceptable."</p>
<p>"I think what that meeting represents goes beyond them as individuals," she said.</p>
<p>Rajakulasingam says Duraiappah's actions are a setback in efforts to honour Tamils who died in the conflict.</p>
<p>Last year, Canada's parliamentarians commemorated Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on May 18 for the first time, marking the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians during the war. A monument in their memory is being built in Brampton and is expected to be unveiled next year.</p>
<p>"So many Tamil activists worldwide that have prioritized their work around this. What does it say to those folks? What does it say to survivors?" Rajakulasingam said.</p><!-- /wp:html --></p><p><strong>Categories:</strong> <a href="" rel="category tag">Local</a></p><p><strong>Tags:</strong> </p>

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