Kellner: Rights improvement by Colombo imperative to prevent 2013 CHOGM disaster
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 June 2012, 22:58 GMT] "Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse should not have been allowed to attend the jubilee celebrations. The mistake of inviting him was not made by the Queen or the Buckingham Palace; the mistake was made by the Commonwealth in the last summit at Perth where they took no action against mounting evidence of human rights violations exposed by Channel-4 among others," the Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Peter Kellner, said, adding the "next Commonwealth summit expected to be held in Sri Lanka next year will be a disaster if there is no marked improvement in human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Sustained protests carried out by large numbers of Tamil expatriates marked Rajapakse's presence in UK, and fearing disruption to businesses in London his speech to the Commonwealth Business Council was cancelled Wednesday.
Interview with Channel-4
The European Union, the United Nations and many Rights organizations have said that there are on-going human rights violations and torture in Sri Lanka, said Kellner and added that the Commonwealth should use the leverage it has over Sri Lanka in holding the next summit [CHOGM - Commonwealth Heads of Goverment Meeting] to apply real pressure to force Colombo to put its house in order.
"Sri Lanka might fear losing the opportunity to hold the next summit, and be vulnerable to such pressure," Kellner said.
While admitting that other Commonwealth Nations may also be Rights violators, and that's why there is reluctance by the Commonwealth to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka, Kellner pointed out the glory days of the 70's and 80's when Commonwealth led the battle against apartheid South Africa as demonstration of Commonwealth's potential for leadership.
"Commonwealth should revive itself and stand up against human rights violators, and this is the perfect time with Sri Lanka holding the next summit to once again show that Commonwealth can regain its strength on human rights issues," Kellner said.
Meanwhile, Mr Cosgrove, Channel 4's head of diversity, was expelled from Sri Lanka shortly after he arrived, and his wife Shirani Sabaratnam was refused a visa and turned back from the Colombo airport.
Asked why the couple had been blacklisted, the immigration official said: "Because they are from Channel 4, which without reason has harmed Sri Lanka's reputation," BBC reported.