| A statesmen issued by the Sri Lanka Campaign
(November 05, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On the 14th and 15th of November, in the luxurious Galle Light House Hotel representatives of 25 of the world’s most powerful countries will be wined and dined by Gotabaya Rajapaksa: the president’s brother and Sri Lankan defence secretary, arguably the most powerful man in Sri Lanka, a brutal autocrat who has publicly denounced democracy and human rights, and a man against whom the UN has found credible allegations of the most serious types of war crimes; an allegation that is also levelled against the LTTE, their adversary in the conflict.
The event is the “Galle Dialogue Maritime Conference” – a series of seminars and banquets hosted by Gotabaya, the Sri Lankan MOD, and the Sri Lankan Navy. The ostensible aim is to improve strategic co-operation in the Indian ocean and to protect the sea lanes around Sri Lanka from threats such as piracy and terrorism. However the event falls into a pattern of similar events hosted by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence aimed both at rehabilitating their relationship with the international community following the UN allegations of war crimes, and at promoting the “Sri Lanka model” zero-tolerance approach to internal dissent.
Edward Mortimer, Chair of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, said, “several of the world’s most powerful Governments are clearly attempting to have their cake and eat it. Many, including the USA, Canada, and South Africa, have said some stern things about Sri Lanka, the war crimes allegations, and the trajectory it is headed down. And yet these same Governments still wish to enjoy the hospitality and fruits of co-operation from those identified as being most responsible for war crimes and human rights abuses.
“As I said in my letter to the governments in question the Government of Sri Lanka is attempting, through events such as this, and its earlier conference on “defeating terrorism” to promote and normalise morally unacceptable and counterproductive attitudes towards global security; which will only weaken and undermine attempts to promote maritime security.
“The best way these 15 nations could improve the security of the Indian ocean would be to take a moral stand, and stay away from Gotabya’s cynical PR stunt of a conference.”
The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice is a non partisan multi-ethnic international NGO working towards a lasting peace in Sri Lanka based upon accountability and human rights.