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Change venue or postpone CHOGM - CTC urges CMAG

Drawing attention to the Uthayan attack and the continued post-UNHRC resolution violations of human rights, the Canadian Tamil Congress called on members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to move the CHOGM 2013 from Sri Lanka.

See here for full statement published on Monday. Reproduced in full below:

Only three weeks ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution stating its concern surrounding the "continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and violations of the rights of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalist, and threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief."

The ink on this resolution has not dried and the attacks on the journalist has only intensified. Yesterday, the main Tamil newspaper "Uthayan" was attacked by armed men in an area controlled by Sri Lankan armed forces. The attackers opened fire and then went on to torch the press. This was the second attack on the main Tamil newspaper this month. According to the owner of the newspaper, the assailants had to be from the government or paramilitaries.

The Canadian Tamil Congress condemns this attack and calls upon the International community including Canada, to express it's position in the strongest way possible to Sri Lankan authorities. As we have done in the past, we once again call upon Canada, the United Nations and its member states to convene an International Independent Investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final stages of Sri Lanka's war. If perpetrators of such acts are not punished, failed states like Sri Lanka will continue to attack the very little freedom that's left in the country, a brunt of which is faced by the Tamil community.

As the members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) convene at the end of this month in the UK, we urge the members to move the venue of the November meeting from Sri Lanka to a country where Commonwealth values are respected. If such a move is not contemplated, CMAG should postpone the Commonwealth meeting by one year until Sri Lanka's issue is taken up at UNHRC in March 2014. If all such action fails, we feel that all member states should follow the position of the Canadian Government, where our Prime Minister has made it clear that he will boycott the event should Sri Lanka's human rights record not improve. Let us work collectively to prevent further atrocities from being committed on the Tamils in Sri Lanka.


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