Diplomatic drama for MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan in Sri Lanka

Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge River. (BRIAN THOMPSON/QMI Agency)

Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge River. (BRIAN THOMPSON/QMI Agency)

David Akin, Parliamentary Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 10:09 PM ET

OTTAWA -- The Canadian government has been told by Sri Lanka's top diplomat in Canada that reports of an NDP MP's house arrest in Sri Lanka are false.

At least three online news sites based out of Sri Lanka reported Tuesday that military officers from Sri Lanka's "Terrorist Investigation Department" confined New Democrat MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan to her hotel in Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka's Northern Province, preventing her from meeting anyone.

Sitsabaiesan, the first Tamil elected to Canada's House of Commons was born in Jaffna but she and her family, like thousands of other minority Tamils in Sri Lanka, fled the country in fear for their lives during that country's 25-year-long civil war.

The United Nations says the current government of Sri Lanka has yet to investigate "credible allegations" of war crimes committed by government military forces against Tamils during that conflict.

Sitsabaiesan, who represents the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough-Rouge River has spoken out frequently, most recently at a Parliament Hill rally at the end of October, in support of calls for inquiries and investigations into war crimes.

"Officials at the Canadian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have spoken with the visiting MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan and she has confirmed her well-being to them," John Babcock, an Ottawa-based spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Development, and Trade said in an email Wednesday morning. "Her visit to Sri Lanka was a private visit. The High Commission remains in close touch with her to ensure she receives whatever assistance is required."

The confusion about Sitsabaiesan's status Tuesday night had two ministers -- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of State for Consular Affairs Lynne Yelich -- interrupting their New Year's Eve activities out of concern for Sitsabaiesan's situation.


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