Harper snubs Commonwealth Summit
Posted on October 8th, 2013

Asoka Weerasinghe Kings Grove Crescent . Gloucester . Ontario . K1J 6G Canada

8 October 2013

The Editor (Letters)

Dear Editor:

Re: -ËœHarper snubs Commonwealth summit -” PM won-â„¢t attend meeting in Sri Lanka over -Ëœserious violations-â„¢ of rights-â„¢, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has finally confirmed that he would be boycotting the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo in November.‚  I don-â„¢t think that he had much of a choice having been snubbed by other Commonwealth nations like the UK, Australia and New Zealand who he thought would stand at attention behind him when he tried to be the Commonwealth-â„¢s Pied Piper wanting the Commonwealth sister nations to boycott it and move the summit to another venue away from Sri Lanka. ‚ It did not happen.‚  But what Prime Minister Harper did not comprehend is that that these sister nations did not have a domestic compunction as Canada-â„¢s government did seeking the Tamil Diaspora bloc votes to hold onto their majority in their next parliaments.‚  Sri Lankan-Tamils in Canada are the biggest community in the world outside of Sri Lanka.‚  The majority of them entered Canada as refugees since July 1983.

Prime Minister Harper was right in away to say to hell with the Commonwealth Summit as his Conservative government wouldn-â„¢t have been able to cope with 30,000 Tamils descending on Parliament Hill and Wellington Street under a sea of red Tamil Tiger flags demonstrating against the Government for attending the Commonwealth Summit in ‚ Sri Lanka-â„¢s capital, Colombo, where 41 per cent of the population happen to be Tamils, as the Conservative government‚ couldn-â„¢t have done nothing about it as the Tamils would claim their right to demonstrate given to them by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.‚  It would have been the repeat of what we witnessed in Ottawa in March, April and May of 2009, when the Tamil Tigers were on their way to be eliminated militarily by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Prime Minister Harper says the reason for boycotting the Commonwealth Summit was because of -Ëœserious violations-â„¢ of human rights by Sri Lanka during the last five months of the 27-year Tamil Tiger terrorist war. ‚ ‚ That is Bah-¦.Humbug! ‚ The Tamil Tigers were seeking their separate, mono-ethnic racist, Tamil ‚ state, Eelam, by killing innocent civilians by scores of hundreds.‚  They ‚ were the most ruthless terrorists in the world and ‚ were eliminate militarily on 19 May 2009. ‚ See who is talking.‚  It is obvious that Prime Minister Harper did not read page A3 of yesterday-â„¢s (Oct.7) ‚ Ottawa Citizen which said -UN official pledges -Ëœconstructive-â„¢ advice-, to correct Canada-â„¢s violations of human rights of the First Nation Peoples.‚  This is embarrassing for a country that goes around the globe preaching Human Rights saying that -We are Holier than Thou-.

Notwithstanding all the above, the bottom line of this Canadian ‚ continuing saga‚  in a relentless pursuit against Sri Lanka wanting to politicize the Commonwealth against Sri Lanka is deplorable. This pursuit undermines the good work done by Sri Lanka since the end of the war four years ago, ‚ such as the multifaceted reconciliation process, ‚ and sending back the liberated 295,873 Tamil refugees to their ‚ renovated war damaged homes ‚ who were held as a human shield for 30 months by the retreating Tamil Tiger terrorists, and‚  instilling democracy by‚  conducting Provincial‚  Council elections after 30 years, in the North and East, formerly controlled by the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

Canada is in no moral position to question or preach on human rights to Sri Lankans as we are no paragons of virtue on this ‚ file. Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Russia criticized Canada-â„¢s human-rights record for rejecting UN-â„¢s call to review violence against Aboriginal women.‚  And that says a lot about us, -Ëœwe are holier than thou-â„¢ Canadians.

If ‚ Prime Minister Harper‚  wants to isolate Canada from the rest of the Commonwealth nations because he valued the Tamil votes more in the Greater Toronto Area, then so be it.‚ ‚  However, believe me,‚ Canada will be the poorer and certainly not Sri Lanka that has been supported by the rest of the Commonwealth Nations and the Secretary-General of its Secretariat, and Sri Lanka will have the last laugh‚ at Canada after‚ a successful‚ Commonwealth Summit is over.

Asoka Weerasinghe

7 Responses to “Harper snubs Commonwealth Summit”

  1. Chancy Says:

    Well said! If Harper wants to punish the people of Sri Lanka, so be it. What these foreigners don’t understand is the fact that the Sinhala people have put up with so much abuse from his Tamil followers.

    Mr. Harper, don’t disturb the sleeping lion! You may end up with a situation of the Sinhalese rising up against the Tamils. It is also important to note that Sinhala is found only in Sri Lanka unlike Tamil,which is found in many countries.
    Mr. Harper, solve your own problems with the Native Americans and the French Canadians. Wake up, Harper!

  2. Sooriarachi Says:

    Some Canadian politicians have swallowed ‘hook, line and sinker’ of Tiger propaganda, and this could also mean that Sri Lankan diplomats in Canada have failed in their duty to defend the good name of the nation by educating Canadian leaders on the true situation in Sri Lanka and also the cause for the conflict that went on for three decades.
    It is common knowledge that the Tigers carry pictures of their atrocities against the Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamil dissidents and claim the Army committed these crimes against the Tamils.

    Or else, the other possibility for these Canadian Politicians to frantically carry on unsubstantiated propaganda against Sri Lanka, could be that they are heavily indebted to the Tamil Canadians, for various personal benefits. However what I see is that they are virtually slandering Sri Lanka to please the new Canadians, the Tamils and forgotten the interests of old Canadians.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Hello, Asoka ! Nice to see your articles in again. Welcome back to the home defense front !


    It’s a numbers game in Canada. There are more Tamils in Canada than Sinhela people thus more vote blocs as well as funding blocs.

    Also, after the 1983 Riots (which the Tamils organized !) treating/inventing other Sri Lankans and the Sinhela people especially as the ‘enemy’ suits Tamils of Canada. Tamils of Canada think it unites them and gives future reasons to be accepted as “refugees” in Canada.

    Tamils may be thinking that Canada not coming for CHOGM appears to give political leverage to the NPC ? It won’t.

    What a pity ! Canada was such a friendly country with Sri Lanka before Tamil bogus refugees spoilt it all.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Lanka Ministry for External Affairs has this to say re Canada & CHOGM :

    ” Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka will not be affected by Canada’s boycott
    Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 08:07 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 09, Colombo: Canadian Prime Minister’s decision to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka does not impact the summit to be held in Colombo next month as heads of all significant members of the organization are participating in the summit, Sri Lanka said today.

    Addressing a media briefing today, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said Canada stands alone in its decision against participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.

    It is not Sri Lanka that will get isolated but Canada, the Minister said, adding that only Canada has taken such a decision and the commonwealth nations had overwhelmingly pledged their support to Sri Lanka in attending the CHOGM.

    “Canada is totally isolated in this situation because we have the overwhelming support of all other countries,” ha said. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Tuesday officially announced that Canada will be boycotting the summit over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

    Minister Peiris said Sri Lanka is dismayed by Canada’s attitude since it is wrong to use domestic issues as a reason to boycott the summit and the Canadian PM is isolated in his decision as a host of nations in the organization do not share his views.

    “We are dismayed by the Canadian attitude because it is wrong to use issues connected with the domestic politics of a country to determine the approach of that country to CHOGM,” Minister Peiris said. Sri Lanka says the Canadian PM is buckling to the pressure from the pro-LTTE lobby in Canada. The Minister said the best response to Canadian Prime Minister’s decision is the statement made by the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that rubbishing old friends will not help make new ones.

    Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday he ‘certainly’ intend to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka and make a positive contribution.

    “You do not make new friends by rubbishing your old friends or abandoning your old friends,” Abbott said in response to the Canadian PM’s announcement that Canada would boycott the summit.

    The Sri Lankan Minister stressed that the Commonwealth is not a forum to pass judgment on each other’s problems and it has never been the tradition of Commonwealth.

    He pointed out that the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of sovereign states and there is no justification for some countries to sit in judgment to other countries.

    “All countries have problems. But those issues have to be resolved by the governments of those countries in keeping with the aspirations of their people,” he said.

    “To suggest anything else is fundamentally contrary to the culture of the Commonwealth,” he said.

    The Minister said that huge support is being received for the Commonwealth Summit to be held in Colombo from the commonwealth member countries as well as from the nonmember countries.

    Prime Ministers from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Singapore and Pakistan and Presidents of many countries including Nigeria, Tanzania and Seychelles have already confirmed their definite participation in the summit, he noted.

    Minister Peiris said that in this situation Canada’s non participation will have no impact on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that will be held in Colombo from November 15 -17″.

  5. L Perera Says:

    Writing lengthy articles to the ‘web’ re stephen harper is fruitless and a waste of time. Instead of preaching to the converted the pro Sinhala settlers in Canada must rally against political parties and politicians like harper and actively campaign in the political arena. What the pro LTTE lobby is doing can be done by the pro Sinhala citizens too. Canada’s
    need to be reminded that there is a substantial block of pro Sinhala votes, too.

  6. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally ‘ended speculation’ concerning his boycott of CHOGM in Colombo. However, he chose to release a statement to that effect not from Ottawa, but Bali in Indonesia. It is a strange (or not so strange) irony that Harper can visit Indonesia and not Sri Lanka despite Indonesia’s human rights record. Amnesty International 2013 reports on Indonesia.

    Security forces faced persistent allegations of human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force and firearms. At least 76 prisoners of conscience remained behind bars. Intimidation and attacks against religious minorities were rife. Discriminatory laws, policies and practices prevented women and girls from exercising their rights, in particular, sexual and reproductive rights. No progress was made in bringing perpetrators of past human rights violations to justice.

    Indonesia’s legislative framework remained inadequate to deal with allegations of torture and other ill-treatment. Caning continued to be used as a form of judicial punishment in Aceh province for Sharia offences. At least 45 people were caned during the year for gambling, and being alone with someone of the opposite sex who was not a marriage partner or relative (khalwat).

    Police and Security Forces
    Police were repeatedly accused of human rights violations, including excessive use of force and firearms, and torture and other ill-treatment. Internal and external police accountability mechanisms failed to adequately deal with cases of abuses committed by police, and investigations into human rights violations were rare.

    Indonesian Security Forces, including police and military personnel, were accused of human rights violations in Papua. Torture and other ill-treatment, excessive use of force and firearms and possible unlawful killings were reported. In most cases, the perpetrators were not brought to justice and victims did not receive reparations.

    Freedom of expression
    The authorities continued to use repressive legislation to criminalize peaceful political activists. At least 70 people from the regions of Papua and Maluku were in prison for peacefully expressing their views. Human rights defenders and journalists repeatedly faced intimidation and attacks because of their work. International observers, including NGOs and journalists, continued to be denied free and unimpeded access to the Papua region.

    Freedom of religion
    The authorities used incitement and blasphemy provisions to criminalize freedom of religion, as well as freedoms of expression, thought and conscience. At least six prisoners of conscience remained behind bars on incitement and blasphemy charges. Religious minorities – including Ahmadis, Shi’as and Christians – faced ongoing discrimination, intimidation and attacks. In many cases the authorities failed to adequately protect them or bring the perpetrators to justice.

    Women’s rights
    Women and girls faced ongoing barriers to exercising their sexual and reproductive rights. In July, the CEDAW Committee recommended that the government promote understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including among unmarried women and women domestic workers. The Committee also recommended that women be given access to contraception without having to obtain their husband’s consent.

    A 2010 government regulation permitting “female circumcision” remained in effect, in violation of Indonesia’s obligations under international human rights law. The CEDAW Committee called on the government to withdraw the regulation and adopt legislation to criminalize the practice. For a third successive year, Parliament failed to debate and enact a domestic workers law. (Emphasis ours-The Nation) It leaves domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women and girls, vulnerable to economic exploitation and the denial of their rights to fair conditions of work, health and education.

    There was little progress in delivering justice, truth and reparation for past human rights violations, including in Aceh, Papua and Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor). Survivors of sexual violence had yet to receive adequate medical, psychological, sexual and reproductive, and mental health services or treatment. In September, the Indonesian Government announced at the UN Human Rights Council that they were finalizing a new law on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; however, no progress was reported. A multi-agency team set up by the President in 2011 to devise a plan to resolve past human rights violations had yet to announce any concrete plans. (Emphasis ours-The Nation)

    In July, Komnas HAM submitted its report to the Attorney General on possible crimes against humanity committed against members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and suspected communist sympathizers in the context of the 1965 failed coup. The Commission called on the Attorney General to initiate an official investigation, to bring the perpetrators to justice in a Human Rights Court and to establish a truth and reconciliation commission. No progress was reported.

    In September, the Acehnese Provincial Parliament announced a delay to setting up an Aceh truth and reconciliation commission.The President failed to act on Parliament’s recommendations in 2009 to bring to justice those involved in the enforced disappearance of 13 pro-democracy activists in 1997 and 1998, to conduct an immediate search for activists who had disappeared, and provide rehabilitation and compensation to their families.
    The government failed to implement recommendations made by the bilateral Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship, in particular to establish a commission for disappeared persons tasked with identifying the whereabouts of all Timor-Leste children who were separated from their parents and notifying their families.

    By Excerpts from report Compiled by Chamara Sumanapala

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    L. Perera said:

    “Canadian’s need to be reminded that there is a substantial block of pro Sinhala votes, too.”

    Great suggestion for Sinhala Canadians to organize and push back as a voting block.

    Obviously, success depends on the number of Sinhala Canadians vs Tamil Canadians.

    Can you please give me some idea of how many Sinhala immigrants there are in Canada compared to Tamils? Thanks.

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