November 30, 2009 Comments Off on CHOGM : Aust leads push against SL
Behind the scenes, Mr Rudd has led a push to stop Sri Lanka from hosting the next summit.
Many leaders are concerned about Sri Lanka’s human rights record in the war against Tamil separatists and feared it would lead to a boycott of the next meeting.
The ABC has been told that Mr Rudd has held at least three bilateral meetings with Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister in Trinidad, in order to convince them to abandon their hosting plans.
UK Guardian – Commonwealth vetoes Sri Lanka bid to hold 2011 gathering
Sri Lanka has been blocked from hosting the next meeting of Commonwealth leaders in protest at Colombo’s military repression against the Tamil population earlier this year.
Australia will instead host the next biennial Commonwealth heads of government meeting in 2011 after Canberra and London joined forces to block the Sri Lankan bid.
The decision, made at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago over the weekend, is a victory for Gordon Brown and his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd.
Australia will host the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The decision was made on Saturday at the CHOGM currently underway in Trinidad and Tobago.
Sources said an official announcement was expected to be made on Sunday.
Sri Lanka had been lobbying to host the 2011 CHOGM but it is believed it will now host the 2013 meeting.
CHOGM, a biennial summit involving 53 leaders from Commonwealth nations, traditionally discusses issues relevant largely to the Commonwealth.
CHOGM critics have questioned the summit’s relevance, including a damning report released by the British-based Royal Commonwealth Society last week that suggested the once-powerful alliance was fading.
But the importance of this year’s event reaches far beyond the former British empire.
Trinidad’s Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, invited French President Nicholas Sarkozy, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen to the CHOGM discussion table.
The global interest in this year’s CHOGM lies in its timing, as the last major gathering of leaders before the December 7-18 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen.
Queen Elizabeth II traditionally opens the biennial event, which attracts hundreds of government officials and media representatives from around the world.
Australia has previously hosted CHOGM twice, most recently at Coolum in Queensland in 2002 (that meeting was postponed from October 2001). Melbourne hosted the CHOGM in 1981.
The first CHOGM was held in Singapore in 1971. Previously, meetings were held under the banners of Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences (from 1944) and Imperial Conferences.
November 30, 2009 Comments Off on 5 part series from Ron Ridenour
Part 1 (Nov 14) – Cuba – ALBA Let Down Sri Lanka Tamils
Part 2 (Nov 16) – Tamil Eelam: Historical Right to Nationhood
Part 3 (Nov 18) – Equal Rights or Self-Determination
Part 4 (Nov 20) – The Terrorists International support for Sri Lanka racist discrimination also reproduced on Counterpunch
Part 5 (Nov 22) – Post-War Internment Hell
November 30, 2009 Comments Off on The Elders call on SL to protect
The Elders – a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela – have made a direct appeal to the President of Sri Lanka to protect the rights of civilians displaced after the government’s defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May.
Six months since the end of the war, the Elders have written to President Rajapaksa to say they are “deeply worried” about the humanitarian situation faced by the largely Tamil civilian population who fled fighting in the north of the country, and warn that this could squander hopes for national reconciliation.
Chair of The Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, signed the letter on behalf of his fellow Elders, Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel and Mary Robinson.
The Elders say in their letter to the President that the continued confinement of approximately 135, 000 internally displaced people is a “clear violation of international law” and that these people are being denied basic human rights, including the right to liberty and freedom of movement.
The Elders welcome the government’s announcement that those still confined in closed camps will now be given the freedom to move in and out of the camps until they are able to return to their homes. The Elders also call for humanitarian agencies to be granted the unimpeded access to the camps required to conduct critical humanitarian and human rights work such as providing health care, legal aid, and helping to reunite families. More
November 30, 2009 Comments Off on In other news
Some of these articles are a few days old
Counterpunch – Post-War Internment Hell for Tamils
The National – Political terrain shifts in Sri Lanka
Financial Times – A peace dividend Sri Lanka cannot squander
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on Update on elections – 26th Jan
New York Times – Sri Lankan General Who Led Fight Against Tamils Seeks Presidency
The Associated Press – Sri Lanka’s presidential poll set for Jan. 26
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on Int'l orgs cast doubt over SL's promises
The Sri Lankan government has failed to make adequate welfare provision for the 136,000 Tamil civilians it plans to release from internment camps, rights activists and opposition parties said Sunday.
As it prepares to allow the 130,000 internally displaced persons detained in camps to decide whether to stay or leave, the Sri Lankan government should ensure that no additional persons are subject to arbitrary detentions, Human Rights Watch said today.
The U.N. humanitarian chief says Sri Lanka’s decision to release Tamil refugees confined to government camps is good news but the United Nations is concerned about how they are being returned home.
Amnesty International has welcomed the government of Sri Lanka’s promise to lift by 1 December any restrictions on movement of at least 130,000 people displaced by the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).
ABC Radio Australia – Sri Lanka urged to move fast on Tamil reconciliation
The Sri Lankan government is being urged to allow international involvement in the nation’s reconciliation process.
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on ATC in the media
ABC Stateline (20 Nov) – Tamil Community
Sky News (19 Nov)
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on Tamil prisoners attacked by officials
Relatives of Tamil political prisoners and civil rights activists in Sri Lanka have called on the authorities to either to produce the detainees before courts or to release them.
A prisoner speaking on condition of anonymity with BBC Sinhala service described what happened.
When we asked the officers why they beat us, we were told, now your bosses are dead and gone, you are not free to do as you please
“When we asked the officers why they beat us, we were told, now your bosses are dead and gone, you are not free to do as you please.”
He said that Tamil prisoners who are unable to speak in Sinhala were specifically targeted.
22 prisoners sustained injuries; seven of them seriously, he added. The prisoner said that they were attacked with wickets, bats and firewood.
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on From New Zealand
PR by The Green Party of NZ (26 Nov) – CHOGM must address human rights – Greens
New Zealand must use the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to put pressure on Sri Lanka over its shameful human rights record, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has told media that the situation in Sri Lanka will be discussed at CHOGM with an emphasis on how the international community can assist, those caught up in the humanitarian disaster in the North of Sri Lanka.
“New Zealand must support Stephen Smith who has said he will be raising the human rights issues and the need for political reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” said Mr Locke.
“The Sri Lankan Government must be taken to task for violating the Commonwealth’s declaration on human rights. Around 200,000 Tamils are still in detention camps and prevented from returning to their homes – in gross violation of international humanitarian law.
“The Commonwealth’s credibility is at stake if it doesn’t address the current plight of Tamil people in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the civil war.
“In good conscience, we can’t push for strong Commonwealth pressure on Fiji’s military Government, yet do nothing about the situation facing Tamils in Sri Lanka.”
Mr Locke also considers Commonwealth action is necessary to address the epidemic of Sri Lankan boat people fleeing repression in Sri Lanka.
“The Green Party believes New Zealand should respond positively to Australia’s call for New Zealand to take some of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers now being processed by United Nations refugee teams.
“Our Government should reassure Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans over his comment that New Zealand ‘should share some of the burden of resettling the Sri Lankan refugees.’
“We should tell Senator Evans that New Zealand will live up to its ANZAC responsibilities and take some of the refugees,” said Mr Locke.
Green Party NZ – Sri Lankan asylum seekers and the New Zealand response
A week ago, on behalf of the Green Party, I sent the Minister of Immigration, Jonathan Coleman, an email suggesting that New Zealand help Australia solve its boat people crisis. The crisis came to a head because of 78 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on an Australian customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, off the Indonesian island of Bintan, who wanted to go to Australia. There was another group of Tamils on an Indonesian naval ship off Java. I proposed a repeat of what we did back in 2001 when we helped Australia by taking 131 Afghans who had been picked out of the sea off Australia by the Norwegian boat, the Tampa. New Zealand won plaudits for that humanitarian action. Over the years fair-minded Australians have said that it showed that our Government was more caring than theirs. Former Prime Minister John Howard used the Tampa incident to whip up anti-refugee sentiment and win the 2001 election. Most New Zealanders are now proud of what we did in 2001 and proud of how well some of those Afghan refugees, known as the Tampa boys, have done academically and in sport. More
November 29, 2009 Comments Off on Update on CHOGM
Toronto Star –Canada opposes Sri Lanka’s bid to host Commonwealth
Reuters South Africa – Government will oppose Sri Lanka hosting talks