Boycotts, Confrontations, Free Boats and Sri Lanka’s Atrocities

Sri Lanka

It’s only been four years since the bloody 26-year civil war ended in Sri Lanka. Accusations of war crimes and ongoing atrocities are far from over so it was quite surprising to hear that the 2013 Commonwealth meeting was to be held in Colombo this year.

Ahead of the November 15 Commonwealth Summit, Canadian Prime Minister Harper announced that he would be boycotting due to the mounting evidence of continued human rights violations throughout Sri Lanka.  Foreign Minister John Baird accused Sri Lanka of attempting “to whitewash its human rights record” by playing happy host to the Commonwealth heads of state. Baird also claimed that “[f]reedom, human rights and the rule of law continue to be ignored in Sri Lanka.”

After Harper’s boycott announcement, Sri Lankan nationalist paper The Island headline announced that “[Canadian] PM Harper’s rep lays flowers for Tigers.”  Obviously, the Canadian government quickly denied sympathizing or associating with the extremist rebel group the Tamil Tigers.

On the other side of the pond, British Prime Minister David Cameron was heavily criticized for not following Harper’s lead and announcing a British boycott. Not only did Cameron announce plans to attend, he also became the first world leader to visit the northern Tamil area since the country’s independence in 1948.

After arriving in Sri Lanka, Cameron spent 12 hours touring the war-torn mess that had been left behind in the wake of the gruesome civil war. He heard about missing loved ones, murdered journalists, and unrelenting ethnic persecution before heading down to meet with  Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo.

While Cameron came prepared for a confrontation, Rajapaksa was unwilling to commit to or even discuss an investigation on war crimes. Rajapaksa flatly denied the persecution of Tamils and talks quickly came to a standstill. With Sri Lankan cooperation looking unlikely, Cameron reiterated the need for an investigation led by the international community.

Following his unsettling visit, Cameron pushed for a UN-led investigation and released a statement saying:  “There needs to be proper inquiries into what happened at the end of the war, there needs to be proper human rights, democracy for the Tamil minority in that country.”

Cameron ended his trip by threatening that Sri Lanka needs to carry out its own investigation into accusations of human rights violations and war crimes before March 2014. If the demand is not met, Cameron will push for the UN-led investigation next spring. Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapakse replied to Cameron’s threat by saying: “Why should we have an international inquiry? We will object to it … Definitely, we are not going to allow it.” While it seems very probable that Cameron will get the final word over Rajapaksa, it remains to be seen what will ultimately come of his visit.

From the other end of the English-speaking world, Australian PM Tony Abbott showed up at the Commonwealth Summit with $2 million worth of boats for Rajapaksa. Abbott defended the fellow island nation, saying that it’s “not always easy to live up to those ideals [of democracy and human rights]” He adding that “sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen.” Abbots critics responded with: “wtf?”

Time will tell if Abbot’s boats, Cameron’s confrontation, or Harper’s boycott create any change in Sri Lanka’s still-devastated areas.

By: Nicci Mende


The Guardian

7 Responses to "Boycotts, Confrontations, Free Boats and Sri Lanka’s Atrocities"

  1. ashok Tagavelu   November 23, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Another one sided article.We Sri Lankans Sinhalese,Tamils,Muslims,Burgers,Moors,And Veddas sufferer enough for 30 yrs.It is high time all western nations looking at Sri Lanka through a pin hole start looking at their back yards.Mr.Camaron if interested i fair politics on his visit to Jaffna should also have made time to meet Govt.agents Nd the Governor of North.He on met TNA who still dream of separatism.Up to today their language does not include the wording “we Sri.lankan” instead use only we”Tamils”.It is high time talk about unity and about “ONE SRI LANKA” and not only about the northan Tamils.Tamils are living happily amoung the Sinhalese in the South in some areas they are the majority.

    • Lord Shiva (@ShivaForJustice)   November 23, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Tamils have been suffering since independence since 1948, almost 65 years under the Sinhala Buddhist apartheid racism, attacks, intimidation, denial of rule of law, democracy, equality and Justice. Sri lankan cannot be one as the Sinhala racists failed to recognize the minorities and respect the sentiments other cultures, values and religions.

  2. ranil   November 23, 2013 at 1:43 am

    very poor politics by, mr, Harper and mr Cameron,..both of them became LTTE’s puppets,..for gaining cheap votes by easy way, they have no choice of winning their own people’s hearts …….

    • Lord Shiva (@ShivaForJustice)   November 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Are you a war criminal sympathizer? The Tamils did not suffer under the British and the Sinhala racists brand all those demand for democracy, justice, rule of law, and freedom as LTTE puppets, LTTE rumps and it is a BIG Joke! The Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid racists only understand violence and the Western allies jointly attack and invade Sri Lanka and conduct a through investigation of all crimes, war crimes and bring the perpetrators to the Hague without further delay as the Rajapakse regime continues to commit crimes against humanity, abduct Tamils, torture and murder them even today.

  3. Piranha   November 23, 2013 at 1:22 am

    The only language the dictator Rajapaksa understands is the language that Cameron spoke. Rajapaksa will never conduct a genuine war crimes investigation as he himself and his brothers are implicated in war crimes. The country is rife with crime, nepotism, impunity, torture and has become lawless, anti minority attacks are rife and the judiciary and the press are under severe attack by the regime. How on earth Abbott’s appeasement is going to work when the intransigent Rajapaksa’s are carrying on their dictatorial actions regardless of widespread worldwide condemnation.

  4. Herath   November 23, 2013 at 12:48 am

    There are lots of anti-Sri Lanka articles by journalists from countries where there is a heavy LTTE presence. Unfortunately a small country like Sri Lanka does not have the necessary resources to counter such allegations. Mr Cameron’s antics were disgraceful. These politicians have become puppets of LTTE diaspora who funded terrorism in Sri Lanka.

  5. Gamini Gunasekera Mendis   November 22, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Using a pragmatic approach is the best way to get your message across when it comes to external diplomatic affairs. During the CHOGM 2013, heads of states like Mr John Key of NZ and Mr Tony Abbott of AU, have meticulously dealt with Sri Lanka offering win – win solutions while, people like Mr Stephen Harper of CA and Mr David Cameron of UK had a kind of dictatorial way of asking Sri Lanka to speedup the inquiry on the sensational yet illusive war crimes against the LTTE terror. Canada is lamenting over a landed immigrant ethnic group though it should have dealt with the disparity issue of native Canadian and UK itself struggles currently with so called its Chilcot report as it took UK some 40 years to publish the report over the MRF killing in Belfast.
    Do not you see the political hypocrisy some countries are having towards young democracies like Sri Lanka .. ?


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