23 June, 2017

CHOGM 2013 Final Communiqué; Making A Mockery Out Of The C’wealth

By Dinouk Colombage

Dinouk Colombage

Dinouk Colombage

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo ended in flash, with many citizens left asking “was that it?” After spending millions on infrastructural improvements and inconveniencing the entire city in the lead up to the event we can now ask what has been the outcome of this meeting.

As is the case with all Commonwealth Heads meetings the end of proceedings was signalled by the symbolic agreement in the form of the “final communiqué” (a summary of all that was discussed). In Sri Lanka the final communiqué which accepted included agreements made on “Rule of Law”, “Freedom of Religion” and “Human Rights” to name a few. When the Sri Lankan government joined the heads of governments and representatives in signing this document, they made a pledge not only to the people of Sri Lanka but to the Commonwealth that they would uphold these values.

Having studied the final communiqué (as is available online) several points were brought to my attention.

Point number forty under the heading “Freedom of Expression”: “Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including through a free and responsible media…” Three days prior to the signing of this communiqué a collection of human rights activists, political figures, trade unions and individuals organised a human rights festival open to the public. On the day of the festival several buses travelling from the North of the country with family members of those who have disappeared were stopped by security forces. The police claimed that they would disrupt the peace in the city and so would have to return to their homes.

Those who managed to reach the city were also targeted with pro-government demonstrations. Despite the festival being hosted on private property and causing no disruptions to the public a court order was obtained barring all forms of protest or demonstrations in Colombo. The event had taken place outside the city limits, yet the court order was delivered to the organisers and they were told the festival had to be shut down.

This peaceful gathering was an apolitical representation of the issues facing many sections of our society. Unfortunately, the government fearing it portrayed them in poor light moved to have it shut down. This order was, to all who witnessed it, a clear breach of an individual’s right to freedom of expression. In fact that evening an individual from Mulliativu who participated in the festival was arrested on suspicion of having LTTE connections. His crime was not being able to produce an Identity Card. Without any real evidence police finally released him several hours later, by which point the damage had been done.

The Sri Lankan government did allow the controversial Channel 4 news team in to the country and despite numerous obstacles they were able to report on the ground situation in Sri Lanka. However, as reported by Channel 4 News editor, Ben de Pear, their stay in Sri Lanka appears to have been cut short due what they claim to have been open intimidation by government officials.

For all those foreign dignitaries who attended the meeting there is little doubt that they would not have been aware that such actions were ongoing. Their ability to choose to turn a blind eye and sign in to affect a communiqué that discourages such actions leaves many outsiders confused.

Point 42 under the heading “Freedom of Religion or Belief”: “Heads of Government noted that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.” Ironically once again days before this communiqué was produced  members of the Bodu Bala Sena (a Sinhala nationalist group) headed by a group of “Buddhist monks” stormed the above mentioned human rights festival accusing the organisers of harbouring LTTE suspects and being funded by foreign NGOs. Similar to previous attacks carried out by the BBS no action has been taken against this group, with the government choosing to turn a blind eye.

Further to the detriment of the Commonwealth no member state chose to raise any such concerns prior to agreeing on the final communiqué.

Were the member states conscious of not insulting the host nation and future chairperson of the Commonwealth, or were they simply willing to ignore these lapses for fear of attention being turned upon their own countries? In Pakistan Christians continue to face persecution by radicalised Muslims within their society, in the UK and Australia Muslims face racism at the hands of the white Christians. All over the Commonwealth sections of the charter are being disregarded, placing governments in awkward positions such as the one they were placed in this past week.

While hypocrisy is running rampant, Sri Lanka has before it the unique opportunity of taking a lead role on issues that the President has publicly agreed to uphold. Many citizens of Sri Lanka were quick to publicly applaud the efforts of the country’s high commissioner to the UK, Dr. Chris Nonis, in defending “the honour of this sovereign state”. This final communiqué has now given the public the opportunity to demand from the government that they uphold the very values that Dr. Nonis claims they are dedicated to.

Point 39 under the heading “Human Rights”: “”…Heads remained committed to assisting countries to build capacity to work with the UPR and implement the accepted recommendations with the assistance of the Secretariat as appropriate.” On two separate occasions leading up to the conclusion of the summit members of the government publicly banished the Commonwealth from any form of involvement in Sri Lanka. Following on from Dr. Nonis’ interviews with media groups, SLFP MP A.H.M. Azwer “gate crashed” a CHOGM press conference and publicly rebuked the Commonwealth Media Spokesperson Richard Uku for Commonwealth’s criticism of the government.

As both these individuals are representatives of the government, it can only be assumed that their comments are in line with the thinking of the government. The question is then why did the government accept this communiqué which clearly encourages the involvement of other nations in upholding human rights among its fellow member states.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is, for many people, on its last legs. With the majority of the members states being guilty of breaching the agreed upon charter, there is very little in the way of a solid foundation to effect change. This communiqué was but a reminder of the comical path that the Commonwealth is going down.

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    As far as I am concerned there is no mockery in the CHOGM communiqué.

    Any communiqué to uphold the “Rule of Law”, “Freedom of Religion” “Human Rights” and “Freedom of Expression” is a good communiqué. However much such charters are flouted, having a yardstick to measure a government’s conduct is a good one.

    Imagine if there was no such communiqué to guide a member state’s conduct. Then it is a free for all, isn’t it.

    I always maintained international engagement of Sri Lanka is a good thing. Sri Lankans are really not yet civilized enough to embrace democracy as a form of rule. Almost all politicians we have elected under the democratic process have always shown a propensity to misrule, swayed by the ‘Pandan Karayas’ to make erroneous decisions, given to nepotism, given to racial and religious bias, to corrupt practices and a penchant to use violence against its own citizens. Foreign countries engaging Sri Lankans into some forms of agreement for good governance may propel our politicians to live up to international expectations. Even if this is to manifest itself in minute ways, then it is a win for the citizens.

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      One hypocrite needs and recognizes another – the Commonwealth of Clowns and Rajapassa are ideally suited!

      Indeed Mahinda Rajapassa is ideally suited to lead this most morally repugnant, CORRUPT, obsolete and irrelevant British Colonial relic organization called the Common Poverty of Nations aka. the Commonwealth of Clowns.

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    So how did we do? Not very well. Sri Lanka wanted to show case its new age of peace, development, and progress led by its most enlightened leaders since the days of the kings. Instead the world heard nothing apart from a re hash of our abysmal human rights record, the plight of the thousands of the disappeared, orchestrated demonstrations against journalists, white vans, the destruction of civil liberties, the climate of fear, and an over riding paranoia that the rest of the world has conspired against us.

    We invited 53 heads of states to our biggest party for years, and barely half of them could be bothered to turn up. Some who didn’t, stayed at home and made rude noises behind our backs. Others who came, made rude noises to our face. We rolled out the red carpet for them, and they pretty well ignored us. Others turned up for the free food and booze as they always do.

    So we got a milk powder deal out of New Zealand, so we can continue to import theirs (now botulism free) so that they can continue to undercut our own producers. We got some old boats out of Australia who are more concerned with stopping Sri Lankans escaping this paradise of ours, because we apparently prefer to die in a leaky boat trying to get to them as a kallathoni rather than endure our wonderful country.

    We also got to do a bit of grandstanding, pressed the flesh of some foreigners who actually mean bugger all to anyone, pretended we were world leaders for a couple of days, and fed birthday cake to Prince Charles. We also got Colombo cleaned up, and the airport road completed five years after scheduled.

    So it was worth it the? To be vilified in the world press, all over again, and to have all our sins raked over several times. And through it all, we protested our innocence, blamed the diaspora, pleaded it was a conspiracy, and said it all never happened. Of course we wont even know how much this whole debacle will have cost. But at least Mahinda got to suck up to Prince Charles, even if his Mum didn’t make it. So it was definitely worth it.

  • 0
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    You are right on the money
    Was that it?
    Yes war time made money now another avenue to pocket the money

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    What a success the Comiss karkas and the importers of luxury cars all connected to the despotic MARA regime including the sons and relatives made millions all safe in foreign Bank accounts in the Bahamas and Geneva.The sons involved with sending illegal migrants to Australia caught red handed thanks to their Navy connections go scott free.The Million dollar Katunayake Freeway costs millions of dollars as commissions per kilometer. Who were the beneficiaries? It is the rotten Ministers and the MARA mob. No one would be accountable for all these frauds . The President and his family are in the thick of it.Dont ever talk of the rule of law when the Chief Justice Mohan the Mongrel is a crooked bastard in the hands of the dictator. The only solace the people have is to send these Bastards to the Hague.and leave them to rot for their misdeeds.

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      It is the Indian merchants who have been and still are taking the island nations wealth to India since 1792.

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    Dinouk
    Isn’t it time the Commonwealth folded up?
    The individual governments must take stock of themselves and the UN must be reformed: we need to have systems approach to the grave issues of our very complex world:

    Now for the Long Term, Report(Oct 2013) by Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations
    http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/commission

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      UK commissions are no longer relevant to the present day and future issues. If I say CHOGM stands for CHinese OrGasM it will perfectly explains what I mean.

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    The much hyped Commonwealth heads of governments conference (CHOGM) 2013 created an ignominious record as the CHOGM with the least number of participating heads of governments , in its history. Though the foreign Ministry revealed that 23 government heads were to arrive , 21 only of the 53 scheduled commonwealth heads came for the CHOGM thereby creating a record as the CHOGM that was attended by least number of heads of governments in its entire history – a poor reflection on the lawless Rajapakse regime hosting it. The number of heads of governments who participated in the previous CHOGMs are as follows :

    2011 in Perth – 36 heads of governments
    2009 in Trinidad – 34 heads of governments
    2007 in Uganda – 36 heads of governments
    2005 in Malta – 38 heads of governments
    2003 in Nigeria – 38 heads of governments
    1999 in Durban Africa – 47 heads of governments
    1997 in Scotland – 42 heads of governments

    Meanwhile a sum of Rs. 1700 million was distributed earlier itself among the print media, broadcasting and television channels across Sri Lanka to publicize that the CHOGM is a roaring success by the pro Rajapakse media. Hence these pro government media coolies have turned blind to the flops and failures, and are not making any adverse reports. All these coolie media Heads are deaf and dumb after their pockets ,pot bellies and foul smelling mendacious mouths have been filled to the brim with CHOGM lump-sums .

    In addition, it has been assessed that 1000 local and foreign journalists participated in this CHOGM , and towards them a sum of Rs.980 million has been set aside towards their expenditure. It is media secretary Charitha Hearth alias ‘Heeralu’ Herath and shaggy hog media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who are in charge of this sphere.

    The breakfast that was served to the media personnel who were loitering about the venue from early morning 5.00., after Heeralu Herath and bearded Keheliya getting together and spending Rs.980 million was only a roll and a cutlet.

    The contract to provide food had been entrusted to Testa Bake house, Avissawella .This same Bakery is providing meals to about 18000 security personnel throughout the period of the conference.

    Let us see how ‘Heeralu’ Herath who abandoned robes and bearded Keheliya ‘kalliya’ teamed together and took everyone for a ride in this colossal food supply scam.

    The sum set aside towards 1000 media personnel was Rs. 980 ,000,000 ! That is Rs. 980000 per journalist. If the conference is to last for 10 days, the sum spent per day is Rs. 98000 towards each journalist for their meals.

    In other words, ‘Heeralu’ Herath and (bearded ) ‘Rewula’ Keheliya ‘gahapu heti’(swindling duo) is very obvious based on their spending Rs. 98000 (nearly a lakh) per journalist vis a vis the roll and cutlet.

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      Testa Bake house is a success story of a poor Sinhalese man. If the food was Chapathi with Sambar would have been praised.

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    Dr. Chris Nonis is duty bound in defending “the honour of this sovereign state” as that’s what he is PAID TO DO. The government needs a mouthpiece like him who is eloquent enough to stand up for the country at CHOGM time as he does nothing else but gallivants all over with his ……………. If he wants to defend his position he will now need to really work hard to ensure that the government upholds the values he so confidently spoke of.

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      Time to do the job he studied for and not be a liar and a hypocrit. Sorry for the bugger. Blatant lies with his/her eyes closed. You can lie for sometime but you can’t lie all the time. Truth prevails.Shame on him.This role does not suit a so called scholar.I suggest illiterate Murali Pandankara for the job.

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    The recent CNN interview featuring Chris Nonis may have impressed those who are unable to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’. Many fools were impressed purely because he speaks better English than the other fools (relatives)who are sent to head SL diplomatic missions.It is a well known fact that one of those who profiteered most from the war was none other than Nonis’ brother-in-law – one of the most notorious arms dealers in Sri Lanka. Hypocrisy and double standards at its peak. Defending an autocratic regime is no easy task and Nonis will learn that lesson very soon. The snub that he received when he was ‘brushed-off’ by David Cameron in the aftermath of his interview with MR should itself send a very clear message to MR and his cronies. But then again they are all a bunch of think-skinned morons who are intellectually and morally challenged. Let Nonis continue to live in ‘cloud cuckoo-land’ and gloat over his PR debacle while SL continues to slide down the slippery slope.

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    How can the Commonwealth boast of Principles when the very Organisation is habouring a Fraud as Kamalesh Sharma functionning as Secretary General who has concealed the Reports of the findings of the Impeachment of the CJ De Jure? Unless and Until this matter is addressed the Commonwealth is a JOKE and an insult to the Citizens of the countries it represent.

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      If David Cameron is sincere in the fight against Human Rights Violations, then he should address Kamalesh Sharma issue without delay. Probe the two Reports, remove Kamalesh Sharma and install the CJ De Jure by removing the CJ De Facto. If this is not done there is no purpose of a Commonwealth or a UN.

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        I think the issue is complex.
        Prior to leave for CHOGM, Cameron did have a meeting with representatives of tamil diaspora, did you watch that ?
        And there are also anti-CW fractions in the UK other powerful allies. May be that UK has no other choice than let lead CW by any means to protect the respect of Queen/Monarchy. UK authorities would not discuss monarchical issues openly, even if over 50% of UK folks are yet to Britisch Monarchy

  • 0
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    Dinouk – so what else is new?

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    MA RA can’t fool all the people all the time. He can do it at home buying stupid peoples votes but how long can this go on.
    He thought he can do the same this internationally wasting a colossal amount of money on CHOGAM which ended in an utter failure and there is more trouble to come.
    It is the poor Srilankan people who will have to pay for all MR and co has spent on and invested else where. MARA is the most cunning and shrewdest politican in Srilana history.

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    The Communique had a lot of other things. Poverty reduction, development and trade and a lot of things like that, that is important to majority of people in the world let alone the former British-Indian colonies the Commonwealth.
    These absurd things the writer has read is limited to a few privileged people.
    The money was well spent when you know the Emperor did not attend to watch his subjects.

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    The CHOGM in Sri Lanka was not held to promote or reaffirm Commonwealth Values. It was held in Sri Lanka with the help of Sharma as an agent of India for two reasons.

    1)To present MR as a Leader and to Legitimise his crimes against Humanity and also to hide Indias involvement in the Genocide.
    2) To derive maximum benefit to bring new businesses to Sri Lanka.

    But despite putting on a brave face by GOSL and some Media as a Resounding Success in reality it was a total disaster.

    1) Less than half the Head of States attended which was a record low.
    2) Mr.Cameron and other representatives from the World went to the North putting Jaffna on the World Map
    3) The Racist Chandrasri was humiliated as Mr.Cameron refused to meet him.
    4) The Free Press was hounded.
    5) MR about to face humiliation cancelled the Press Conference.
    6) But when he finally decided to attend the Press Conference there was only one Question and that was all about his role in the War Crime.

    If the above is a Resounding Success I am not sure what Humiliation and failure is. MR now faces the real prospect of being dragged into an International War Crimes Inquiry.

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