Saturday, February 18, 2012

Commonwealth in Sri Lanka; A Wrong Step?

image taken from Creative Commons
The Commonwealth announced at its last Summit; the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia that its next CHOGM will be hosted by Sri Lanka. Shocks!!!

Criticism has followed ever since and it is very easy to see why.

Sri Lanka is synonymous to ethnic insurgency to most of young generation of Commonwealth. Whether you know where Sri Lanka is or not, one thing is clear and very ethnic conflict has been non-stop. In fact, Tamil and Sri Lanka are far more popular to Commonwealth citizens than the Commonwealth itself.

Over the 50 years the problem has brewed in Sri Lanka Prime Minister Bandaranaike introduced the controversial Sinhala Only Act that recognized Sinhala as the sole official language of the government in the middle of 1950s, Sri Lanka as a country has known little to no comfort.
At the last count in 2009, following the government's claim to having defeated Tamil Tigers, the famous militant group in the North of that country, official record has it that about 100,000 people has died in the 26-years fracas. This is in addition to 294,000 displaced people according to Sri Lanka's own government records.


However, the government of Sri Lanka has been pragmatic since that acclaimed defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009. It has shut off or diverted the media attention away from the problems that continues to brew on the same issue. These problems owe largely to the fact that the government has not effected nor implemented the necessary safe-guides of equalities and protection for the Tamil tribes. Speaking to different Tamil and Sri Lanka people I have met in the UK, they confess that troubles continues to brew on the ground. The Tamils still feel overly alienated in their own country.

But all the above is swept under the carpet through the government's pragmatic approach. It has succeeded in diverting the world's attention from the realities of life for a sect of its citizens. In stead, the government is using 'fastest growing economy' to confuse the world. Of course, as this blog identified here; present generation government is controlled by the 'Market'. The people do not matter any more.

For a country with so much bloodshed and such level of discrimination and oppression going on, and resulting in unresolved tensions, it is therefore appalling that the Commonwealth would consider hosting its next Head of Governments Meeting there. Is the Commonwealth endorsing a failing government thtat it should be chiding?

The Commonwealth should be sanctioning Sri Lanka and mandating it to effect the necessary instruments to implement peace especially on the equal treatment of its citizens and the provision of services. Or where the Commonwealth do not want to be seen to be taking sides as it always claim, it could at least, have not taken its Summit to Sri Lanka because that amount to an endorsement for a failing governance.

What does this meeting hope to achieve in a country where words like; equality, minorities, rights, equity, discrimination, opportunity and any such words that depicts justice would be avoided or said in hush-hush tones if not at all?

Is the Commonwealth really going backward instead of forward? This seems the wrong step and the  expectation is completely skeptical.

This is not about who is right; the government of Sri Lanka or the militias of Tamil, but of justice and equity. The Commonwealth must redraw its footsteps and consider relocating this meeting to a more comfortable destination for now.

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