The Tamil Rights Group (TRG) brings together activists directly connected to the struggle for Eelam Tamil rights since the early 1970s while also recognizing the historical importance of ensuring continuity for the next generation of advocates.
President and Chair
Navaratnam Srinarayanathas is an experienced international business leader having built successful ventures in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, United Kingdom, France, and Canada. His business interests have spanned a wide range of sectors from consumer-packaged goods to real estate and environmental conservation to sporting franchises. Under the Sri Kala International banner, Das has also produced Tamil-language films, the most notable of which was famed filmmaker Balu Mahendran’s critically acclaimed “Veedu” which won the Best Tamil Film Award at India’s 35th National Film Awards in 1988.
Das has been a passionate advocate for Tamil rights since the early 1970s when he was a political prisoner and survived torture at the hands of the Sri Lankan state. He is the inaugural President of Tamil Rights Group, an international advocacy not-for-profit focused on legal advocacy for justice, accountability, and a just political solution for Eelam Tamils. Das is also the Patron of the Srinarayanathas Foundation, a registered charitable private foundation in Canada.
Secretary and Spokesperson
Katpana Nagendra migrated to Canada in 1985 after being displaced during the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom while residing in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since then, she has been a long-time advocate for human rights issues and strived to ensure accountability and justice for Eelam Tamils. She then returned for the first time as a member of the Tamil Student Volunteer Program (TSVP) internship program to teach English-as-a-Second Language at post-secondary institutes and local orphanages in and around Kilinochchi.
Katpana is also a professionally trained Bharatanatyam performer and has completed her arangetram in Chennai, India. She currently resides in Vancouver, Canada and works in sales and marketing for a chemical distribution company.
Punidadas Piyasena is a former research scientist, engineer, and academic with nearly 40 years of experience working in food safety engineering in Sri Lanka, United States, and Canada. Since 2017, Punidadas has been involved in land development and real estate property management in markets outside of the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.
Punidadas has a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), M.Eng. in Agricultural Engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), and Ph.D. in Process Engineering from École Nationale Supérieux des Industries (France). He’s a licensed engineer and a a professional member of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineers, Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, and Institute of Food Technologists.
Charles Antonidas’ political activism began in the early 1970s in Ceylon with student activism that continued in the United Kingdom during the late ’70s where he has been domiciled for much of his life. He was an engineering analyst by profession for 25 years. Charles worked for Tamil Rights Group (not affiliated with the current TRG) to advocate for Tamil rights with British parliamentarians in 1980-83. He was also one of the pioneer members of the Central British Fund for Tamils Relief and Rehabilitation (CBF) from 1980-84. Charles facilitated establishing the Gandhiyam branch in London under the auspices of CBF.
After the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, Charles formulated new campaigns internationally and worked for the Eelam National Liberation Front (ENLF), the only platform that evolved as an authoritative representative body for united efforts in 1984-1986. He was a member of the Tamil delegation at the historical Thimphu and Delhi peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka and Government of India respectively.
Charles is a firm believer in the equality of nations and peoples as an essential component for sustainable peace and development. He also believes in the rights of national minorities and indigenous communities in Sri Lanka. He remains an active member of many rights-activisms seeking political solution narrated by the victims of atrocity crimes for transitional justice.
Volunteer Legal Advisor
Haran Viswanathan is currently a senior associate in Baker & McKenzie’s Transactional Group in Toronto, Canada. His practice primarily focuses on domestic and cross-border M&A, public and private financings, corporate re-organisations, regulatory compliance, and general corporate and securities law matters. Prior to his current role. Haran was in-house counsel for a global oil and gas company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Janani Shanmuganathan is a partner at Goddard & Shanmuganathan LLP, a litigation boutique that practices criminal and regulatory law. She received her undergraduate, Masters degree in Criminology, and her law degree from the University of Toronto. Janani regularly appears at the Ontario Court of Appeal and has been counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada on several appeals. In addition to criminal trials and appeals, Janani does regulatory work, defending professionals subject to investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Outside of the courtroom, Janani lectures at legal education programs on trial and appellate advocacy and is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. She is also on the board of directors of the South Asian Bar Association, a member of the Pro Bono Inmate Appeal Program at the Ontario Court of Appeal and volunteer duty counsel with the Law Society of Ontario.
External Senior Legal Advisor
For more than four decades, David Matas has been dedicated to defending the rights of society’s most vulnerable members. A lawyer and recognized authority on human rights, immigration, and refugee law, he has had a marked impact on the evolution and expansion of these fields in Canada and abroad. David has been a valued advisor and human rights observer for the Canadian government and has been sought out for his expertise by several human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the International Commission of Jurists. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2009. David is also a co-founder of the International Tamil Refugee Assistance Network.
External Legal Advisor
Sarah Teich is a Canadian attorney, consultant and author based in Toronto, Canada. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toronto, an M.A. (magna cum laude) in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security, and undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Sociology from McGill University. She has also studied law at the National University of Singapore. Sarah has held research positions at the Munk School of Global Affairs (Toronto) and at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Israel. She has worked on classified projects for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and led a Canadian National Security Working Group delivering policy submissions to the Parliament of Canada. Her current research focuses on international human rights law and national security law and policy. Sarah’s current affiliations include the Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT), the Canadian Security Research Group (CSRG), and the International Counter-Terrorism Review (ICTR).
Our directors provide leadership to several functional areas of the organisation, including Research & Policy, Membership, Partnerships, and Public Affairs led by subcommittee chairs based in Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and United States.
There are also additional Country Coordinators who are adjunct directors of the organisation and provide regional leadership.