Do you approve of this?

Civilians who had been trapped in Sri Lanka’s north, during the last month of the war. May 2009. © Private

This image was taken in the last month of Sri Lanka’s bloody armed conflict. These people were among the tens of thousands of civilians who were killed and wounded at that time.

Caught in the crossfire between Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the armed opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, they would have been terrified, desperate to escape the carnage. But there was no escape.

When people tried to find a way out of the fighting, they were attacked. When they were injured and tried to get medical help, their makeshift hospitals were shelled.

Today, another battle is consuming the island. Operated by stealth, it targets journalists, lawyers and other activists so that dissenting opinion is silenced.

As Sri Lanka prepares to host a meeting of leaders of Commonwealth countries from 15-17 November, the iron grip of the state is in full force. The capital, Colombo, has been swept “clean”. And the Commonwealth seems all too willing to take this sanitized version of Sri Lanka at face value.

In December 2012, all Commonwealth states adopted a new charter which promotes human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Yet the Commonwealth has been shamefully silent about Sri Lanka’s human rights crisis. It has failed to address the persistent lack of justice for past crimes and ongoing attacks on activists.

The most explicit expression of this failure is the Commonwealth’s decision to let Sri Lanka host its meeting this November. We gathered an amazing 190,475 signatures to our petition calling on leaders to use the meeting to demonstrate respect for the values they signed up to as members of the Commonwealth.

Now, there are only 10 days to go before the meeting officially opens. At the end of that meeting, it is customary to appoint the host country as chair of the Commonwealth for the next two years. But with so much injustice in Sri Lanka, this must not be allowed to happen. If the Commonwealth appoints Sri Lanka as its chair, it’s approving of human rights abuses.

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Posted in Impunity, Killings and Disappearances, Sri Lanka | Tagged | 13 Comments

  1. Jennie o Connell says:

    Awful awful what happened there. We must never forget!

  2. doortje says:

    No one is free until we are all free.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  3. Lisa Frangello says:

    This is awful.

  4. The image shows how the human rights in Sri Lanka are not being respected by people who must give total conditions to those citizens live in peace and at least with their dignity preservad in time of civil war or not.

  5. Jan Whiteside says:

    The regime will never admit any of the government atrocities that were committed during the last months of the war! If comments are made……you are seen as an LTTE sympathiser! Any attempt to hold them accountable will, unfortunately, fail. It is not a democracy, it’s an autocracy!!!
    This is a beautiful country with lovely people, many of whom are struggling to eat because of the high cost of basic food etc. However, politicians of both sides get duty free cars, almost free electricity, large petrol allowances etc etc etc! That’s one of the ways that the regime stays in power. The other is fear!!
    I am saddened and angry that this conference is coming here. It ‘rubber stamps’ the regime and makes a mockery of the Commonwealth! Well done Canada for its comments and behaviour. I wish others had felt able to do the same. Rajapaksa should not be confirmed as chair!

    • Shiromi Pinto says:

      Jan, thank you for your spirited comment here. And thanks to all of you so far who have dropped by to share your thoughts.

  6. Otega Esemuede Jr says:

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
    The World should stop hiding from reality in the world of hypocrisy, the world leaders must stop Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth body until there is a true justice to they crimes the government committed against the Tamil Eelam.

  7. Amelia Veasey says:

    “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened” John F Kennedy

  8. Shiva says:

    Does the Commonwealth revert back to Apartheid and Colonialist policies?

  9. Amos Chileshe Muselema says:

    This is very sad and unacceptable. Respect for Human Rights and Human dignity should not just be on paper. Let us see human rights and human dignity respected in action. There are a train of convensions on human rights abuses which are fruitless. I would love to see a world where all human beings would be respected, no matter where such a person lives or his or her creed/status. All human rights activists should remain united against all odds and recruit more new members until such a time that all people world over will be singing the same song, PEACE and UNITY in solidarity.

  10. Cruelty is no solution. We need to find amicable solutions with wisdom and love. Humanity should always be respected.

  11. Michelle says:

    No one is free until we are all free.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  12. margaret miller says:

    Killings cannot tolerated.Therefore no commonwealth Chairing by Sri lanka .

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