Sri Lanka’s President Not Scared Heading Into Commonwealth Summit

Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka, isn’t worried about the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The summit, held every two years among members of the Commonwealth of Nations (mostly former territories under the British Empire), will be hosted in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and will commence Friday.

Despite calls for him to boycott the summit in Sri Lanka, as many other leaders have, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to deliver a “tough message” to Sri Lanka on the human rights front. Those boycotting the summit are doing so because of the alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lanka’s president in the 2009 civil war with Tamil separatists. Cameron has said there are outstanding issues that still need to be “properly investigated.”

“There are legitimate accusations of war crimes that need to be properly investigated,” Cameron said of the situation in Sri Lanka, via the BBC. “That is actually what the Sri Lankan government, in its own lessons learned and reconciliation exercise, found – there were more questions to be answered. But it hasn’t effectively answered them. They need to be answered.”

The Sri Lankan government is clearly objecting to such a statement.

“We are a sovereign nation. You think someone can just make a demand from Sri Lanka?” was the response from the Sri Lanka Minister of Mass Media and Communications, Keheliya Rambukwella.

“We are not a colony. We are an independent state.”

But Cameron intends to do so nonetheless. In the face of such a contentious build-up prior to the summit in the Sri Lankan capital, President Rajapaksa says he has “nothing to hide.”

“We have a legal system in Sri Lanka,” the Sri Lankan president said. “If anyone wants to complain about the human rights violations in Sri Lanka, whether it is torture, whether it is rape… we have a system.”

A Forbes Op/Ed suggests that, in addition to potentially dispelling the human rights questions, Sri Lanka has an opportunity in the summit to show off its growth and promise in the four years following the conflict, though, considering the tone of the piece and mention of “myths that have been propagated over the past four years by a determined and well-funded Tamil diaspora,” it is pretty clear where writer Ajith Nivard Cabraal stands on the issue.

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