These blog postings do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Advisory Council.
"A Commonwealth expert round-table on reconciliation will take place in London in May 2013. It will involve the sharing of experiences of the challenges faced and lessons learned during post-conflict reconciliation in Commonwealth member states. Sri Lanka will participate in this forum and share its experiences of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation."Setting aside the dubious suggestion that a skill sharing round table can in some way cancel out a co-ordinated assault on the rights of the Sri Lankan people, and the complete traduction of Commonwealth values, the round table did sound like a good idea and a potentially very positive step.
|Commonwealth Secretary General Sharma with his close friend, Sri Lankan|
High Commissioner Chris Nonis. (Photo CC courtesy of ComSec).
"In recommending civil paths to peace, we were not saying that other approaches such as military, security and political are not important, but that to say that true peace and reconciliation comes when people as human beings feel valued, respected and given dignity - emphasising the role of civility in building relationships for long term peace."This is precisely what the Government of Sri Lanka has not done. Meanwhile the Commonwealth Secretary General concluded his opening remarks by quoting Desmond Tutu:
"True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know."It is of course the Government of Sri Lanka's refusal to allow that disclosure of the truth which is one of the major stumbling blocks to reconciliation which is the reason why Desmond Tutu himself has called for Sri Lanka to be stripped of the Commonwealth Summit.
|The campaign is called "no reward for the island of fear"|
|A quick glance at this map of signatories to the International Criminal court shows how|
far ahead Africa is of Asia when it comes to constructively working with the international
community on human rights (green = ratified, light green = currently ratifying, orange =
signed but not ratified)
|Lonely Planet's website has a page asking if it is ethical|
to visit Burma. Why not the same for Sri Lanka?
"Declaring a country like Sri Lanka a “number one travel destination” without providing information about the alarming human rights situation is not what we consider responsible tourism. Nevertheless we want to make clear that it is not our intention to call for a boycott of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination generally. Tourism can bring positive benefits to a country. The difficulty is to make sure the money spent,really benefits local communities and not an oppressive regime and alleged or known human rights abusers. If it really is Lonely Planet’s intention to encourage tourists to travel responsibly and have a positive impact, then it is important to provide them with up-to-date information in order to raise awareness and let them make informed choices."We further sent them our research, in which we had flagged:
"...your work is being used for political ends whether you like it or not. Your decision to declare Sri Lanka the number one travel destination in 2013 has been heavily exploited by the Sri Lankan government. A recent example is an interview with Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, broadcast by Radio Australia, in which he dismisses the new Human Rights Watch report on continuing torture and sexual violence as baseless, citing “Lonely Planet research” – and explains that if sexual violence were really occurring in Sri Lanka Lonely Planet, a publisher with a good reputation, would not have declared it the number one travel destination. We only wish we could share the Admiral’s faith in your good judgment."We also cited a number of things they could do immediately, such as write up an FAQ on the ethical questions raised by travelling to Sri Lanka, as they have done for Burma.
"A report into arbitrary detention, prison conditions, the Vavuniya riot, and its aftermath."
"This report was undertaken by Tamil and Sinhalese researchers from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. We would like to thank the Watchdog team that facilitated the production of this report and many more people who cannot be named for fear of retaliation. The final manuscript was produced by the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice."You can download it here. In addition you can download it from our website (bottom right on front page) You can also download summaries in French and Spanish - and we hope to soon be able to circulate summaries in Tamil, Sinhala, and Arabic.
Labels: United Nations