By Colombo Telegraph –
“The celebrations will be long, grand, and varied, and one of the flagship events will be a private luncheon in London on the 6th of June with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary … and a war criminal….The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a man against whom the UN have found credible allegations of responsibility for the murder of 40,000 civilians, and who leads a government that oversaw the disappearance of 32 people this March alone, will join the Queen and other heads of state at the taxpayer-funded meal.”
“You can help make sure this doesn’t happen” they further says.
Below we give their request in full;
This year, Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her diamond jubilee, to mark sixty years as monarch and head of the commonwealth. The celebrations will be long, grand, and varied, and one of the flagship events will be a private luncheon in London on the 6th of June with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary … and a war criminal.
The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a man against whom the UN have found credible allegations of responsibility for the murder of 40,000 civilians, and who leads a government that oversaw the disappearance of 32 people this March alone, will join the Queen and other heads of state at the taxpayer-funded meal.
This is no way to celebrate a jubilee.
The Government of Sri Lanka were rightly taken to task by the UN Human Rights Council, both for their failure to address accountability for past crimes, and their continued use of torture and oppression. They responded in typically belligerent fashion by redoubling their attacks on independent journalists and human rights defenders. It is therefore absolutely vital that at this key moment the international community keep the pressure on. This is not the moment to treat the President of Sri Lanka to pomp and pageantry — nor should the Queen be forced to spend her jubilee posing for photos with a man who should be indicted for mass murder.
You can help make sure this doesn’t happen
The British Royal Family has recently introduced ways for you to give them your opinions. We can and should use these channels to tell them that the Queen should be celebrating her jubilee in the company of war criminals.
This is the form that the Royal Household has set up to send a message to the Queen — please use it to register your disgust at President Mahinda’s presence. A sample message is provided at the end of this email.
The Royal household is very sensitive to negative publicity around the jubilee. There is a good chance that this will be successful but, even if he does come, it is important that we register our strong objection. At least President Mahinda will not be able to portray his visit as a public relations triumph.
The jubilee should not be about torture and mass murder. Please send the Queen that message today.
The Sri Lanka Campaign
PS. Please spread the word about this campaign to friends and family. You can use the website we have set up to do this. If you use social media you can also send the Queen the message on Facebook, on twitter (by messaging her, using the hashtag #diamondjubilee or both) or by liking or retweeting the messages we have sent.
Congratulations on the sixtieth anniversary of your accession and sixty years as head of the Commonwealth. But please let me say I am sorry to learn that the President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been invited to the anniversary luncheon on the 6th of June. Out of respect for the many victims of this man’s brutality I would ask you to think again.
President Rajapaksa led the 2009 campaign against the Tamil Tigers in which around 40,000 innocent civilians were killed. A UN panel found there were credible allegations that he was responsible for war crimes. He has presided over a government that has overseen the murder of 35 journalists with no effective investigation. This March alone his security forces did nothing to prevent, and in many cases were complicit in, 32 disappearances. UN investigations show that torture is endemic throughout Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is still trying to heal. The President of Sri Lanka is hindering this process and the international community is finally and rightly starting to take him to task over this. But all that work risks being undone if he is fêted at events such as yours. Please reconsider.
The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice