The Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron’s decision to attend the summit despite the continuing call by the Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper’s Government as well as Human Rights Organisations and the Tamils around the world to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lank sets the wrong precedence. A spokesperson for the Queen, who is the head of the Commonwealth, has confirmed that it would be the first time since 1973 the head of the Commonwealth would not be present at an important summit for the group.
Sri Lanka has failed on the fundamental values of the Commonwealth, such as Democracy, Human rights, Tolerance, Respect and understanding, Separation of powers, Rule of law, Freedom of expression and Good governance.
The PM’s decision has angered the British Tamils and the rational to his decision is baseless. Sri Lanka has failed to implement any of the positive recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which a United Nations (UN) resolution (19.L.2) adopted in the Human Rights Council (HRC) in March 2012 called for. Furthermore Sri Lanka has categorically rejected the HRC resolution (22/L.1) which was adopted in March 20013.
In November 2012, the Foreign Affairs Committee in its report urged the PM to announce his unwillingness to attend the CHOGM in Sri Lanka. His actions will also put Her Majesty the Queen in a difficult position in sending a representation on her behalf when Human Rights Organisations are calling for a Boycott or a venue change.
The PM to announce his intention to attend six months in advance is ill-timed and will be seen as a clear message to encourage the other heads of States to attend the summit since there are many supports for the boycott call. When Britain should be taking the leadership in promoting Human Rights and uphold the Commonwealth values, the PM has opted to ignore the appalling Human Rights record of Sri Lanka.
Allowing Sri Lanka to host CHOGM 2013 will automatically give Sri Lanka the chair-in-office for the next two years and allowing an alleged war criminal to chair the 53 Nations of Commonwealth Heads of Governments.
Britain is making a historic mistake in its own responsibility towards its commitment to the Human Rights and the Commonwealth values and the Commonwealth is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
We sincerely hope that the PM rethinks his decision and put Human Rights in front of any business deals that will come out of the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) which will take place in conjunction with the CHOGM 2013.
The British Tamils Forum (BTF) is calling for expulsion of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth and change the venue for CHOGM 2013. We believe that the PM should take the leadership and shift CHOGM 2013 to the UK and making it convenient for the Queen to attend.
By British Tamils Forum