The Queen will not attend this year’s Commonwealth summit as the palace reviews her long-haul travel. But there are calls for Britain to boycott the meeting due to Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
The Queen has been present at every Commonwealth summit in the last 40 years – a sign of the importance she places on her role at the head of the Commonwealth.
But this year, Prince Charles will take her place at the meeting in Sri Lanka in November after Buckingham Palace said that the number of long-haul flights taken by the 87-year-old monarch was being reviewed.
However Britain is facing pressure to boycott the two-yearly Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) altogether, because it is being hosted by the government of Sri Lanka, which is accused of war crimes.
Human rights groups last week criticised David Cameron’s decision to attend the summit. Canada’s government has said it will boycott the meeting, with the country’s foreign minister saying that allowing Sri Lanka to host it would be “accommodating evil”
The United Nations says at least 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by Sri Lankan government forces in the final stages of the civil war which ended four years ago amid evidence of war crimes. The government there has consistently denied its involvement.
In March, two former foreign secretaries – one Labour, one Conservative – told Channel 4 News they thought it would be “grotesque” for the Queen to be required to attend the meeting in a country which is accused of persistent human rights crimes. Human rights campaigners have also expressed concern about the disappearance, torture and murder of government critics.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen’s decision not to attend was not a political one. “It is nothing to do with the political situation in Sri Lanka,” said a spokesman.”The key point here is that the Queen will be represented, although she is not there in person, by the Prince of Wales.”
The Queen was forced to cancel her appearance at the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey in March after a bout of gastroenteritis.
The Global Tamil Forum told Channel 4 News it was “relieved” that the Queen would not be attending. “However Prince Charles and the prime minister seem to be on course to wipe out all the pressure that has been built through the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) process in the last two years,” said Suren Surendiran.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander called on the prime minister to review his attendance if certain conditions are not met.
“David Cameron must be clear about the progress Sri Lanka needs to make before he confirms his attendance at November’s Commonwealth summit in Colombo.
“He has a responsibility to use the prospect of the summit to encourage Sri Lanka to meet its international obligations and address concerns about ongoing human rights violations.”
Downing Street said last week that Mr Cameron would be delivering a “very tough message” to the Sri Lankan government at the meeting.
Courtesy Channel 4
Not A Hater / May 7, 2013
She old and feable get over with it
Dodo / May 8, 2013
ABORT CHOGM IN SRI LANKA WHICH WOULD BOOST A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP NOW!
SL Civil society and trade Unions need to lead a protest campaign to ABORT the CHOGM in November which is means to boost the Rajapassa Military dictatorship while bankrupting Lanka – with British and Indian collusion.
Rajapassa bribed Britain and India for CHOGM to boost his military dictatorship and show off. Democracy and the economy is Lanka is the victim of this corruption.. The Sri Lankan economy will crash after the CHOGM because of all the national debt and waste of public funds to host the Commonwealth Circus. Democracy will be finished off before CHOGM as Colombo will be in a military lock down for
1. Britain got the million dollar Roll Royce engine deal from Sri Lankan Airlines for Camaron’s support for CHOGM. Sri Lanka cannot afford the cost of Rolls ROyce plane engines or the Commonwealth Circus. The country is in massive debt ant those funds would be better spend on up grading the public bus and train transport system.
2. India was promised the Northern PC election and the Sampur power plant to control the Trinco Harbour which is desperately wanted to balance China in Hambantota.
Activist / May 8, 2013
We, educated Lankans do not want Prince Charles or the Commonwealth of Clowns headed by the biggest clown, the Indian Sharama in Colombo – to boost the Mahinda Rajapassa military dictatorship!
Charles and Sharma should stay in London and do the tango with Camaron on the drums, as the Commonwealth Of Nations which is a platform of dictators and already irrelevant is dissolved by democracy activists of the LANKA SPRING for regime change!
Sri Lankan civil society should lead a global movement to CLOSE DOWN THE BRITISH COLONIAL RELIC THAT IS THE COMMONWEALTH, MORPHED INTO A PLATFORM FOR THIRD WORLD DICTATORS!
Piranha / May 8, 2013
Twelve hour journey is Lang haul travel? If it was New Zealand or Australia one could understand but Sri Lanka is not at the other end of the world. I think the dreadful political situation in Sri Lanka and the undemocratic nature of the regime in Sri Lanka are too controversial for the queen to be identified supporting. Taking these into consideration I am sure David Cameron advised the queen not to go. What Cameron has to say when he attends the meeting in Colombo will be interesting to see.
sea / May 8, 2013
Very true. I read through the articles on this issue in The Guardian (UK), and this is pretty much the impression I was left with. Let’s not forget that the royal couple travelled all the way down to Australia for the last CHOGM. After all, it’s not the case of an old and feeble couple having to go through all the hassles of air travel. It would have been the highest first class comfort available, best of medical expertise and supply at hand, and a trip that would take place under the best imaginable circumstances.
The true reason seems to be prime ministerial advice. Cameron himself was heard making a statement the other day about the Queen’s neutral position, and ceremonial cum symbolic role.
Her presence would have given wings to the Rajapaksas and they would have gone totally crazy if she came in person. Despite the national garb, Sinhala speech and the embodiment of Sinhala Buddhist political positions, the Rajapaksas are very keen to look upon Britain as THE reference, even more than the Bandaranaikes and R. Wickremesinghe (who sent his secretary Bradman Weerakoon to 10 Downing Street to check out how prime ministerial office work was being carried out…).
One thing is crystal clear. No one gives a damn about Sri Lanka’s HR situation, and after the summit, the Rajapaksas will still continue to thrive, fantastically.
Dr. Aslam / May 8, 2013
LOL… and we believe you, Dear Queen!!! And of course, youer health IS the reason you are not attending!!!
Roger Kumar / May 8, 2013
What can Cameron say? Whatever he says will be nicely butter coated and as usual and Cameron’s statement will be like “the president and I met behind closed doors and we had a very fair exchange of views and we talked about the progress of the LLRC REPORT” and a little more mumbo – jumbo because by now they have all nicely wined and dined and exchanged gifts ( may be even an ALIYA from Panewala) . As I said numerous time before ONLY THE PEOPLE OF SL CAN BRING ABOUT THE CHANGES THEY NEED – BE IT A FEDARAL CONSTITUTION OR THE CREATION OF TAMIL ELAM . BUT PEOPLE. BE ASSURED THAT IF THE USA FINDS THAT THE CHINESE ARE GETTING A FIRM HOLD OF THE INDIAN OCEAN , THEN THE GOSL WILL BE IN DEEP TROUBLE AND IT WILL BE LIKE ANOTHER IRAQ OR LIBYA . THE USA AND CANADA ARE KEEPING A CLOSE EYE . RAJAPAKSA SAMAGAMA ‘s FUTURE IS BLEAK . THE COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE IS A WORTHLESS TOOL AT THE PRESENT TIME AND EVEN IN THE FUTURE .
Anura / May 8, 2013
One thing can be guaranteed even Queen attend SL meeting. That is there won’t be any protest or single placard demonstrations in SL.
There will be thousands of children and adults with flags and well wishes to majesties. So why not come and enjoy ?
kris / May 8, 2013
Now LTTE diaspora , Chanel4 and A1 will say we stop the queen going to SL(ha ha ha)
What a waste of money on properganda against SL by those people, Al in this way abusing the doners money to support terrorism
Senguttuvan / May 8, 2013
There is little to rejoice in the news the Head of the Commonwealth Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will give a miss to the CHOGM, in Rajapakses fiefdom. To learn this is the first time she will be missing in her record of 40 years of attendance adds to the tragedy.
It won’t be long before we read she is undertaking a tour to Australia/New Zealand. She could not have possibly ignored Canada’s considered Statement “attending the Summit will be accommodating evil”
What a disgraceful state we have sunk in to?
Let us draw our conclusions. We are conducting ourselves in such a manner we are being increasingly isolated in the world. In a recent tour of North/South India, UK/EU and North America I personally felt this. A Sri Lankan Passport is now tendered in the different immigration/airport counters with a degree of reluctance and trepidation. Thanks to the Chinthanaya.
sea / May 8, 2013
one couldn’t agree with you more.
Romesh Senewiratne / May 8, 2013
The entire concept of a “Commonwealth” has always been a farce. It was a euphemism for the British Empire exploiting the people and resources of its colonies and the CHOGM is a pompous vestige of this anachronism. I think the money of the Sri Lankan people could be better spent in other ways.
As for the choice between Charles and his mother – at least Charles isn’t married to an old man who still calls us “darkies”!
Pol Pot / May 11, 2013
Romesh, try calling the so called ‘Whites’, ‘Pinkies’. I have done it and they don’t like it at all. After all they are not White, but Pink!!!
fred / May 14, 2013
I am not sure that I can agree with you that the “Commonwealth has always been a farce”. It is certainly not a group with a great deal of clout in international affairs but it has been a force for good and of benefit to its members. It would be ungracious on the part of SL, for instance, to not acknowledge the many scholarships and assistance in various forms that accrued under the Colombo Plan. And I believe that some of the locomotives that Canada (the object of a great deal of criticism in SL today) gifted to SL under the Colombo Plan, are still running! Those of us who are old enough to remember, the Colombo Plan or the C Plan as it was sometimes called, was born out of a conference held in Colombo and was originally referred to as the Spender-Jayewardene Plan, after its reputed co-authors. For me, at least, there is some sentimental attachment to this grouping.
That said, however, I don’t think that hosting a meeting of the CHOGM is a big deal nor that SL can justify the cost of holding it in the island. Even the prestige the event will bring to the island will, I think, be minimal. On the contrary, the CHOGM will provide SL’s detractors (maybe, even Channel 4) another high profile event for them to get wide publicity for their propaganda, and the event may turn out to be a ‘minus’ for the SL government.
For my part, I don’t have a problem if Price Philip referred to us as ‘darkies’. So, what? Compared with the (white) Brits, the Sri Lankans are indeed darkies. That alleged comment does not diminish me in any way. It’s the Prince who should be embarrassed if he did indeed say it. The Queen is 87+ and Prince Philip is 91+ and it is perfectly understandable if they have chosen to ‘sit out’ this event . But Prince Charles is not an unworthy deputy. He is the heir to the throne, and given the Queen’s and her consort’s ages, it is perfectly understandable if they want to cut down on exhausting overseas travel. Say what you will, but you can trust Buckingham Palace to do the polite and correct thing almost always.
Safa / May 8, 2013
King Kong must be highly disappointed that he cannot have HRH for dinner. With a little bit of luck he will have the honour of meeting the Camilla Parker-Bowles. David Cameron chooses to beard the beast in his own den.
Talkingtoplants / May 8, 2013
Six months is a long time at one’s age – Charles could be the King and the head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations by CHOGM.
Perhaps Suren Surendiran and Callum Macrae should come up with a “Tree genocide” video for the Channel 4 News – programme to be transmitted Tuesday 12th November.