The recent release by Wikileaks of a US Embassy cable from London has provided evidence of the Commonwealth’s view that concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka precipitated denying Sri Lanka the privilege of hosting the next CHOGM in 2011 (1).

Sri Lanka
4. (C) Banerji said that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka during and after the recent military offensive had been raised “informally and off the record” by the UK during the last CMAG meeting, forcing a difficult conversation with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, as Sri Lanka is currently a member of CMAG. Banerji said the Commonwealth continues to watch the situation in Sri Lanka and noted that Sri Lanka’s offer to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) had been turned down over concerns about lending international credibility to the Government’s actions.”

This starkly contrasts with the statement by the Sri Lankan Foreign ministry at the time.

Sri Lanka claimed, “The endorsement of Sri Lanka [to host the post-2011 CHOGM in 2013] by the entire membership of the Commonwealth singularly demonstrates the recognition of Sri Lanka’s adherence to the Commonwealth values and principles with the country being one of the most vibrant democracies.” (2). This is nothing short of a lie. The claim by Sri Lanka was widely understood at the time as being a deceit but now the direct contrast with the truth can be seen from the Wikileaks cable content.

The Commonwealth’s concerns about “lending international credibility” to events and the climate of human rights violations in Sri Lanka at the time is at least as much an imperative now with a degradation of democratic processes and the breakdown of the rule of law since that time. (3)

Having denied Sri Lanka the 2011 CHOGM, the Commonwealth must now revisit the compromise decision that Sri Lanka should be permitted to host the 2013 CHOGM. The entire Commonwealth’s credibility will be at stake if Sri Lanka is provided this platform to generate more propaganda.

(3) Social Science Research Network report on the “Breakdown of the Rule of Law” report.

Far more is expected to come out in the Wikileaks than this first snippet… Stay tuned for more revelations!