Next Monday 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.
Governments around the world are attempting to have their cake and eat it: on the one hand they pander to us by making stern pronouncements about war crimes allegations in Sri Lanka, its human rights record, and its downward trajectory, yet on the other it wishes to enjoy the hospitality and fruits of co-operation from those identified by the UN as being most responsible for these war crimes and human rights abuses.
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 security; in the long run this will only weaken and undermine the “maritime stability” this conference seeks to promote. The best way these 25 nations could improve the security of the Indian ocean would be to take a moral stand, and stay away from Gotabaya’s cynical PR stunt of a conference.
Gota once dismissed allegations of rape in the north of Sri Lanka out of hand because one particular Tamil nurse – “a person so attractive” – was not raped. The Sri Lankan Navy have been identified by the ICJ as being heavily complicit in war crimes. No government that values democracy and human rights should attend an event like this.
We only have a week to stop the seminar – so please forward this to your friends!