Writing in the Tamil Guardian today, Britain’s Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, said Premier David Cameron, having rejected calls, including by the Labour Party, to boycott this week’s Commonwealth summit in Colombo, should now ensure Sri Lanka is not permitted to chair the Commonwealth for the next two years. The full text of Mr. Miliband’s opinion follows: The Prime Minister flies to a summit in Colombo today amidst growing and continuing concerns about Sri Lanka’s human rights record after two decades of civil war. An estimated 40,000 civilians died in that brutal conflict and yet there has still been no investigation into allegations of war crimes because the Sri Lankan government has so far refused to carry one out. Instead of making progress, the situation in Sri Lanka seems to be getting worse. Last month, Britain's cross-party foreign affairs select committee criticised the scant evidence of progress in political and human rights.
Writing in the Times of India on Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on the leaders of Commonwealth to unite in pressing for a thorough investigation into Sri Lanka’s war crimes, and for “ an end to the intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders, action to stamp out torture, demilitarisation of the north and reconciliation between communities. ” "Of course," Mr. Cameron said, " we need to see a thorough investigation into alleged war crimes, and if it does not happen rapidly, an international independent investigation will be needed ."
Writing in the Roll Call, US Reps. Danny Davis and Bill Johnson, criticised the lack of progress on implementing "a viable plan for lasting peace and reconciliation". See here for full op-ed, extract published below: "More than four years after Sri Lanka’s ethnic-fueled internal conflict came to an end after 26 years, the country has yet to implement a viable plan for lasting peace and reconciliation.
Writing in the Weekend Leader, Karthick RM hailed the decision of Manmohan Singh not to attend CHOGM in Colombo this week as a 'symbolic victory', but stated it was not enough, calling for a 'serious re-think' of Indian foreign policy towards Sri Lanka. Stating that a complete boycott was still needed, he went on to coment that the regional interests of Tamil Nadu were integral to India's foreign policy, adding that Tamil activists from across the globe have "emerged as a well-networked community" and are "constantly expanding their spheres of influence in opinion making".
A few days from now David Cameron will arrive in Colombo to shake hands with a man who presided over the killing of at least 40,000 Tamil civilians and whose government continues to perpetrate shocking cases of rape, torture and mutilation – when the doors open on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka. As he sits down to watch the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister will not be able ignore the absence of two of his most prominent counterparts – the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Both are boycotting the event.
If Number 10 is about to breathe a sigh of relief, they ought to know that their last ditch and very public efforts to engage with British Tamils have fallen far short of their placating intentions. Considering the Tamil community makes up over 100,000 of the British electorate, David Cameron was absolutely right to think he owed us an explanation. It’s just a shame that the explanation was far too little, too late.
Britain’s presence at the Commonwealth summit will achieve more than an empty chair would Next week, the Prime Minister and I will travel to Sri Lanka for the latest Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The 53 Commonwealth countries together represent two billion people – nearly a third of our world’s population – and some of its fastest-growing economies. Despite its significance, most discussion of the summit has centred on its location. In particular, because of Sri Lanka’s poor record on human rights, some people are calling for a British boycott. I am among the first to want to see...
Writing in Embassy , Raj Thavaratnasingham, the president of the Canadian Tamil Congress, called on Commonwealth heads to boycott CHOGM next week. The full text of his opinion has been reproduced below: In 2009, the Canadian government refused to support a bid by Sri Lanka to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, as a way to pressure the government to allow relief workers access to refugee camps following the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. In 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper first mentioned his intent to boycott the biennial summit if the human rights situation in Sri Lanka did not improve.
Tasha Manoranjan, a graduate of Yale Law School and the founder and executive director for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka, has criticised the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies' decision to allow Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN to speak at the school, calling it 'contradictory to the values that are so actively inculcated in Yale students'. See the full piece entitled 'Genocidaire on Yale’s campus' here . Extracts have been reproduced below. "This Thursday, one of the key officials implicated in the White Flag incident will be speaking at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Sri Lankan Ambassador Palitha Kohona is Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the United Nations in N.Y., and is the subject of an investigation by the Australian Federal Police. There have also been requests from NGOs to the International Criminal Court that Kohona’s involvement in these extrajudicial killings be investigated." "Kohona is the official representative of an authoritarian and oppressive regime. Yale is disturbingly granting him a platform to whitewash Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils on the island and normalize Sri Lanka’s role within the international community."
Published 13.15 (GMT) Writing in the Tamil Guardian today, British Prime Minister David Cameron responds to calls for him to boycott the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Sri Lanka next week. The full text of Mr. Cameron’s opinion follows: A week from now I will arrive in Colombo to join leaders and representatives from 52 other Commonwealth member states for our biennial meeting. Today in Downing Street I will meet Tamil representatives from communities here in Britain to discuss their concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka and to hear the messages they want me to take to the government...