In an opinion piece for abc News, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict at the University of Sydney, Professor James Lynch, outlined the need to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting due to take place in Colombo later this year.
Excerpts follow below,
“The final offensive against the Tamil Tigers was planned as a 'war without witnesses', but investigative journalism led by the UK's Channel Four, in collaboration with brave Sri Lankan reporters both in country and in exile, has kept the issue in the public eye.”
“The Commonwealth summit would be hosted by president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been removing political and judicial constraints on his ability to wield despotic power. Two of his brothers also hold cabinet posts. The constitutional limit restricting presidents to two terms in office was removed, and the High Court chief justice was dismissed, after she stood up to him.”
“The last Heads of Government Meeting, in Perth, strengthened the Ministerial Action Group's mandate. Empowered to intervene when the Commonwealth's 'values and principles' are threatened, its grounds for engagement now include 'the systematic denial of political space, such as through detention of political leaders or restrictions on freedom of association, assembly or expression', particularly in conditions such as 'systematic violation of human rights of the population, or of any communities or groups, by the member government concerned' and 'significant restrictions on the media or civil society'.”
“Human rights monitors and the UN's own expert panel, which reported two years ago, show this is an accurate description of Sri Lanka today. Canada has already said it will not attend CHOGM if it is held there, and cites recent developments to support its argument.”
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