Commonwealth complicit in Sri Lanka's rehabilitation - Jonathan Miller

Writing in the Radio Times Point of View column, Channel 4 correspondent Jonathan Miller compares reactions to Sri Lanka’s war crimes with the way Syria’s Assad regime is perceived. See Miller’s blog for a version of the article. Extracts reproduced below. “Spin the clock forward. It’s 2018. You’re four-and-a-half years older and you’ve just woken up to the headlines: more than 50 world leaders are heading to the Syrian capital, Damascus, for a global summit, hosted by President Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s at peace, it’s economy, thriving. The tourists are back and the “terrorists”, vanquished...

'Sri Lanka should be condemned, not acclaimed'

Writing in The Independent, author and practising English barrister, Sadakat Kadri outlined the need to condemn Sri Lanka. Full opinion reproduced below.

'Forgotten heroes of the Eelam war'

Writing an opinion about ‘Forgotten heroes of the Eelam war’ for the Weekend Leader, political researcher and member of Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), Sinthujan Varatharajah, outlined the reasons behind the organisation’s forthcoming report, “Silencing the Press: An analysis of Violence against the Media in Sri Lanka.” Sinthujan Varatharajah, works as a London based researcher at and teaching assistant at the University College London (UCL) Political Geography Department. Extracts have been reproduced below. See here for the full piece. "The last period of the war in Sri Lanka...

'Aung San Suu Kyi: falling from grace'

See below for Channel 4's Paul Mason on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Su Kyi: As political heroes go, few rank higher that Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Most people know her as a modern-day saint – the diminutive democrat who defied Burma’s ruthless military leaders. Yet an increasing number are beginning to question Ms Suu Kyi’s judgement. Remarks made in a BBC television interview this week in relation to that country’s brutal ethnic conflict between Buddhists and the minority Muslims have earned particular criticism. Observers and activists have accused Burma’s “icon of...

'It is time David Cameron woke up' - The Times

British Prime Minister David Cameron should immediately call to host the upcoming Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in London, rather than Sri Lanka, wrote Rosemary Righter, an associate editor for The Times. Righter, the author of 'Utopia Lost: the United Nations and World Order' also applauded Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision as 'a display of leadership' stating that he was 'riding to the rescue of the Commonwealth'. She went on to call upon Cameron to move CHOGM away from Colombo, adding it was 'hardly beyond Britain to put on this show at short notice'. Extracts...

'Why we're boycotting Sri Lanka' - Canadian FM

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has stated there is 'no room for moral ambiguity' on Sri Lanka as Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotts the increasingly controversial Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting due to be held in Colombo. Writing in, Baird noted that Canada had made more than 30 public statements on Sri Lanka and that the opposition were united behind the Prime Minister's decision. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . "Canada takes its membership in the Commonwealth very seriously. It is for this simple reason that we believe in upholding the basic principles it stands for: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Without them, what does the Commonwealth stand for?" "The Commonwealth failed to put any pressure on a regime that has so blatantly ignored international calls for change... As a consequence, we gave this regime a free pass to continue down this path. " "This was not a decision taken in haste. It was carefully considered with one aim in mind: for Canada to send a message about our displeasure with an organization that has failed to stand up for its fundamental principles. How can an organization like the Commonwealth reward a country like Sri Lanka, not just with hosting a summit, but by allowing it to chair the organization for two years? And after no meaningful reconciliation following a brutal and violent struggle?"

‘Media repression and Tamils’ – Tamils Against Genocide

In a preview of a report analysing media violence in Sri Lanka, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) has determined that the Sri Lankan “state repression of the media mirrors the state’s wider ethno-chauvinist policies”, placing Tamil journalists at a greater risk of violence than their Sinhalese counterparts. Examining data from, Journalists for Democracy (JDS), TAG found that of all the reported murdered or disappeared journalists listed by JDS since 2004, 37 are media workers of ethnic Tamil origin while 4 are ethnic Sinhalese and 2 Sri Lankan Muslims. The advocacy group went on to observe that approximately 75 per cent have taken place in the majority Tamil-speaking regions of the island. Extracts of their piece have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . "Sri Lanka has gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists alongside Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and North Korea." " Yet considering that much of Sri Lanka’s post-independence period has been entrenched in ethnic violence, the central question of race has been absent in the analysis of media attacks." "Indeed, often ethnicities of attacked media workers remain unspecified in the reporting of human rights and news organisations. With the erosion of ethnic labels in the reporting of violence against media personnel, some core reasons for the Sri Lankan states repression of media personnel elude us."

'The Commonwealth is making a major mistake'

In two letters sent to the Guardian today, Britain's decision to go to the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Colombo,and the Commonwealth's decision to allow Sri Lanka to host it, came under fire yet again. Michael Ellmanfidh, Officer for the Commonwealth, International Federation for Human Rights, wrote to the Guardian stating, " The Commonwealth is making a major mistake in holding its heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka (Report, 9 October), when that country is in serious breach of the values set out in the Commonwealth charter , and has even failed to comply with...

CHOGM ‘legitimises multitude of sins’- Hugh Segal

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Canadian Senator Hugh Segal has applauded Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision not to attend the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, stating it would legitimise ‘a multitude of sins’. Segal is Canada’s Special Envoy to the Commonwealth and the Canadian representative on the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. Extracts from his piece have been reproduced below. Read the full piece here . "As he pointed out, this was not an easy decision. Canada was one of the founding nations of the Commonwealth. All governments know and understand that there is a certain diplomatic simplicity in “going along to get along.” No confrontation, no hard feelings. But on this issue, the Commonwealth has sadly taken the path of least resistance. This is no credit to the Secretary General, the Commonwealth Secretariat or the member countries."

'Tamil voters demand real change, but can TNA deliver?' - J.S Tissainayagam

Writing in The Diplomat, the widely acclaimed Tamil journalist, J.S Tissainayagam, asks if the Tamil National Alliance can provide the leadership needed to deliver to the Tamil electorate who voted for real change. See here . Extract reproduced below: "..t he TNA’s election manifesto was an open acknowledgement that power sharing with Colombo under a unitary constitution is inadequate. It lays down categorically that the resolution of the Tamil question has to be based on shared sovereignty and federal structures, which recognize the Tamils’ right to self determination. Third, the Tamils are...