Following President Rajapaksa’s decision to skip the Commonwealth Games that started just a little over a week ago, it has been reported that he would also not be attending the Commonwealth’s official First World War Commemoration Service in Glasgow next week despite being the Chair of the bloc.
President Rajapaksa’s absence at the First World War Commemoration Service was reported in an article published in Herald Scotland, which quoted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as stating that although an invitation was extended, he would not be attending and would instead be represented by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK.
Although his decision to refrain from attending the Commonwealth Games was attributed to security concerns, it was obvious that the underlying reason were his fear of demonstrations that were to be staged upon his arrival against the backdrop of mounting allegations on human rights allegations and the culture of impunity against his regime.
Meanwhile, the Herald Scotland also reported that campaigners have welcomed President Rajapaksa’s decision to refrain from attending the event held to remember those killed in conflict.
The article had quoted Fred Carver – campaign director for the Sri Lanka Campaign For Peace And Justice, as stating: “The President of Sri Lanka, the chair of the Commonwealth, is clearly an international embarrassment, and that in turn is an embarrassment for the Commonwealth,” adding, “It is not enough for those responsible for war crimes to merely be shunned on the international stage. The British Government needs to work to bring them and their henchmen to justice.”
The Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander had also welcomed the confirmation, adding: “I have expressed deep reservations about President Rajapaksa’s suitability to represent the Commonwealth, especially as Sri Lanka remains a designated ‘country of concern’ in the UK’s annual Human Rights report.”