27 September, 2020

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The Commonwealth And Sri Lanka: That Needs To Start Now, Before It Is Too Late

By The Guardian Editorial

Alan Rusbridger - The Editor, the Guardian

The Commonwealth is an organisation which normally bumps along well under the radar. What bounces it into prominence is a row. And the Commonwealth has a history of good rows, over issues that matter, like apartheid in South Africa, judicial murder in Nigeria or dictatorship in Zimbabwe, and on which it has been able to make a difference. Such moments make everyone pay attention to a body that many rather lazily think is not that relevant any longer. Few will remember, for instance, that this Monday is Commonwealth Day.

The Commonwealth is about due for another row, and indeed it desperately needs to have one on the unwisdom, weekly becoming more obvious, of choosing Sri Lanka as host for the next heads of government meeting in November this year. Otherwise we may find ourselves in the ludicrous situation of sending the Queen or Prince Charles off to a country which has very serious unresolved human rights charges hanging over it, which has yet to justify executive interference in the judiciary, or has failed to adequately investigate the killing of journalists. When our royals arrive they could therefore be in the unhappy position of giving credit to a gathering from which important countries and close allies, like Canada, may well have chosen to absent themselves. That would be a disaster for them, for Britain, and for the Commonwealth.

Sri Lanka is of course adamant that there can be no question of changing the venue. The Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, has recently visited Colombo and appears to have extractedassurances from the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on a number of issues. They are weak in that, for example, while there is a commitment to listen to Commonwealth advice on relations between the executive and the judiciary in the future, there is no mention of reconsidering the recent impeachment and dismissal of Sri Lanka’s chief justice. They can hardly be regarded as sufficient, especially as Sri Lanka has such a bad record of promising to do things and then failing to do them.

The most vexing aspect is that the Commonwealth has a mechanism specifically created with situations like this in mind. The Ministerial Action Group has in the past been tough-minded, warning, admonishing and suspending countries from the Commonwealth. It has doctrine, from theHarare declaration of 1991 on democracy and human rights, through theLatimer House Principles of 2003 on the separation of powers, to the enhanced CMAG mandate of 2011, to guide it in its work. But the group has been slow and inattentive, and the countries, especially Britain and India, who could have spurred it into the action its title promises, have not yet done so. That needs to start now, before it is too late.

* The Guardian editorial- Thursday 7 March 2013 ;  ‘The Commonwealth: time to reconsider’ – A row is due over the unwisdom of choosing Sri Lanka as host for the next heads of government meeting

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Latest comments

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    At the forthcoming Commonwealth heads of government conference in Colombo a motion should be passed censuring commonwealth countries Britain, Canada, Australia and India for allowing the banned LTTE to use their soil to collect funds, buy weapons and promote its terrorist campaign against a fellow member state Sri Lanka and killing thousands of innocent civilians. India should be censured even more for facilitating the formation of LTTE and other Tamil terrorist groups and arming, training and financing them.

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      Ajay:
      Koheda Yanne, Mallay Pol!
      don’t donkeys like you ever get tired of talking about other people’s sins when you and yours are accused of capital crimes?
      Since when did two (or two hundred) “wrongs” make one “right?”
      P.S.
      How much do your sponsors pay you to write this rubbish?

      • 0
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        APOCHCHI,

        TRUTH HURTS; SO WHEN YOU ASK FOR IT MAKE SURE YOU CAN HANDLE IT ANEY.

        PUTHTHA

        • 0
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          Ajay, looks like you have hit your Apochchi right in his monkey!

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        DIASPORA LTTE ACTIVISTS POSING AS HUMAN RIGHTS CHAMPIONS

        dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/17912

        maybe CMB telegraph should publish this article..as there will never be justice to all, when the other side is unacconted for.

    • 0
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      The Commonwealth is rightly known as the Commonwealth of Clowns – a totally irrelevant SPIN machine which observes Human Rights in the breach! Sri Lankan citizens and tax payers have wasted huge amounts of funds on hosting various Commonwealth Circuses (Commonwealth Parliamentarians meeting in 2012 and bids of the Games in Hambantota) all done to boost the ego of the Mahinda Rajapakse military dictatroship.
      The Commonwealth of Third World Military Dictators massaged and maintained by Britain which still cannot accept that the sun set on its empire some time ago SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN AND BURIED.
      The Commonwealth of Clowns due to meet in Sri Lanka to boost a dictator who is a war criminal is has NO LEGITIMACY, RELEVANCE of USE.
      SHUT IT DOWN and stop wasting funds better spent on development on the Commonwealth of Clowns Circus!

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        Quite right, Dinuk, and Kamalesh Sharma like the doddering Manmohan whose instructions he follows is totally useless!
        Sharama is the biggest Clown in the Commonwealth Circus of third world dictatorships and human rights violators – an organization that is a MASSIVE WHITE ELEPHANT which the world would be well rid of!

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      Successive Sri Lankan governments must be charged for state terrorism.
      This President must be charged for not releasing the reports of 15 Commissions he appointed in the last seven years.
      He must be taken to the highest court for refusing to investigate murders when Judge Udalagama offered to continue.

    • 0
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      good suggestion !

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      When Sri Lankan Government is the only government that is protecting the senior LTTE leaders, Karuna, Pillayan and KP, how can any one bring any motion against the countries which had the guts to ban LTTE in their soil.

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    Sri Lanka is on a path to a dictatorship . It’s a dictatorship now . Many violation and I think the Commonwealth venue should be changed and this might help Sri Lanka to make the necessary changes in governing the nation .

  • 0
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    Sri Lanka is on a path to a dictatorship . It’s a dictatorship now . Many violations and I think the Commonwealth venue should be changed and this might help Sri Lanka to make the necessary changes in governing the nation . A true democracy .

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    Changing the venue will be a boon to our country as well. At a time when every Sri Lankan is indebted to the tune of thousands of rupees and the common people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, spending billions on the commonwelth with spin offs to a selct few is courting disaster.

    NSB which is a bank for small people with their lifetime savings. This is now going for a bond issue, borrowing from around the world. What does this mean. More debt for ordinary people and more dollars for the Govt to waste and fill the pockets of a few people.

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      Yes true why don’t the commonwealth understand this?

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    At least some one must put some sense into the”powers that be” and save all SriLankans from becoming more beggars ,by not hosting such big parties,which are too big for our boots.There are more pressing issues to be addressed like ethnic harmony,cost of living ,freedom to do what we want,
    safety of all citizens from harm and discrimination s .This is an exercise to boost some egos.God bless us.

  • 0
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    A bad editorial from a generally good newspaper. Just think about it. Taking CHOGM away from SL will be a slap for the rulers, but they will bounce back blaming it on double standards, losing NO political mileage at home. Diaspora types have too much undue and incorrect influence over the mind of the writer, to make an informed judgement.

    The real test is if at the CHOGM in SL, the ruling cabal is taken to task mercilessly for the numerous violations of every standard of human decency there is and has nothing to do with the LTTE issue at all.

    Then LTTE diaspora will not be blamed, and a serious rap in his own backyard for the local press to think about, and where world leaders come to SL and crucify the heinous dictatorship, that will be just what the doctor ordered to shame him in his own backyard.

    So lets have it and see if they have the balls to call a spade a spade, no matter what other crimes each of the name callers are up to. That is irrelevant. We should never compare SL with anyone else. We must stand tall whilst the rest of the world squirms. Instead we squirm.

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    The Commonwealth dealt with military Coup in Pakistan and Fiji.
    What about Sri Lanka
    a. crushing a section of its people by its army of occupation
    b. militarising education by compulsory military training for
    i.university students and ii. school principals ?

    According to three Nobel Prize winners of South Africa, the Commonwealth is too much on ”repetitive rhetoric” of making declarations and charters and not applying their spirit in real cases of violations of democratic principles or human rights.

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      Then make sure Tamil Eelam doesn’t join the Commonwealth in 3013 when it is established.

  • 0
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    Sanctions worked in South Africa.
    Sanctions have begun to work slowly in Burma.
    WHY NOT try it in Sri Lanka after it has destroyed a great deal of the socio-economic-environmental fabric of the ethnic minorities over 65yrs ?

    Double standards keep protracted conflicts alive around the world.

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    “…we may find ourselves in the ludicrous situation of sending the Queen or Prince Charles off to a country…”.

    Don’t send them, keep them there. They are not ROYAL to us.

    You think that family stand for human rights? They didn’t count the numbers they murdered here through their agents and haven’t returned the things they stole from us over 150 years.

    We can do without them thank you very much.

    Kepp your sanctimonious bullshit to yourself.

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    If the Rajapakse administration has any sense – and maybe, that is a big ‘if’ – it should find some dignified way in which to do it, and withdraw from hosting the CHOGM later this year. The value of hosting these meetings is grossly over-rated. Who really cares about the Commonwealth? Does the Commonwealth really cut much ice on the international scene?

    How much benefit did Perth and Australia really gain from hosting the last one? I daresay the benefit, if any, was minimal. So, what real gain will SL derive from hosting the next CHOGM? ?

    When SL lost its bid to host the next Commonwealth Games, SL was providentially spared all the trouble and expense involved in organising and managing a project that was going to bring the country little or no net gain. Losing the bid to be hosts was a real godsend-. The SL government should seize the criticism, like that contained in this article, as a great opportunity to turn around for its benefit – not as a threat – and use it to get rid of the burden of hosting the next CHOGM. If, for nothing else, SL can ill afford the wasteful expenditure that the next CHOGM will cost the hosts. Let some other country that is silly enough and keen enough to do so, take on the responsibility.

    And then the writer of this article and scribes like him will be happy. India will be happy. Canada will be happy. And others – more important than them – the people of SL, will be very, very happy.

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    Queen has a major job to perform…..
    As per some clown Member of Parliament of UK, she is to undertake the inquiry into the last days of the decimation of the ltte while attending the CHGOM.

    Everybody wants to deal with SL but nobody dares… Funnily is’nt it??

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      Catharis

      “Everybody wants to deal with SL but nobody dares… Funnily is’nt it??”

      It is not funny but largely lamentable.

      LTTE under VP refused to listen for years, now it had been silenced, not by the Sri Lankan state but by you know who.

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