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An (another) open letter to the Commonwealth Secretary-General Hon Kamalesh Sharma

| by Rajasingham Jayadevan

Dear Hon Kamalesh Sharma

( September 29, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your timely condemnation of the Nairobi terrorists attack that saw killings of 59 Commonwealth citizens and the terrorist taking many others hostages. Calling this a ‘cowardly act’ and a ‘heinous act’ which must be condemned in the ‘strongest terms’ is very appropriable and welcome.

Your statement further went on to sate: ‘The targeting and the premeditated killing of defenceless civilians is absolutely reprehensible. It is my fervent hope that those behind this terrible attack will release the innocent children, women and men that they have taken hostage’ and that ‘the Commonwealth stands in total solidarity with the people of Kenya at this trying time.’

Flags of the members of the Commonwealth talk-shop

This single most incident invited much publicity and condemnation from all corners of the world and your timely condemnation as the head of the Commonwealth Association overwhelms the feelings on the dastardly act against the innocent civilians.

I too take this opportunity to share your views without any mitigation as our family too have suffered deaths, destructions and incarceration due to the inherent failures of Sri Lanka and the ravages of the war for nearly thirty years.

However, I feel saddened that the very feeling you expressed on the Nairobi attack was not reflected in the premeditated killings of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians who were inhumanly killed in the final stage of the war in 2009 in Sri Lanka- leave aside, many more thousands killed over the 30 years of internal war. This only makes one feel the prejudicial or partisan mindset of the Commonwealth Association.

It shows that the Commonwealth Association uses different yard sticks to measure the serious human rights and war crimes violations of its member states for some strange reasons.

Those dead and suffering innocent Tamil civilians too are Commonwealth citizens and are humans like those affected in the Nairobi terrorist attack. The sheer volume of the deaths and destruction brought on the innocent Tamil civilians by the Commonwealth State of Sri Lanka did not touch the conscience of the Commonwealth Association at a same wave length for some strange reasons. There was no overwhelming message of condemnation by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association.

As the head of the CA, you have not made any effort to venture into the war ravaged territories in the North and East and speak to the victims of the war. These Commonwealth citizens too need the show of kindness towards them. Your total disregard confirms inconsistencies or prejudices practiced by the Association on human sufferings within the commonwealth nations. I hope the Commonwealth Conference will pave the way to correct this imbalance, prejudice and inconsistency in the dealings of the Commonwealth Association.

I also hope you will undertake a special visit to meet the war victims in the war ravaged north though it will be belated effort.

The perpetrators of the heinous crimes in Sri Lanka are mollycoddled to strengthen their status and resolve. Under the pretext of protecting the ‘sovereignty’ of a state, crimes are tolerated and legitimised due to the over protecting attitude of the Commonwealth Association towards its member states? When I think of the colossal deaths and destruction in Sri Lanka, my heart burns and I curse the world order for permitting such unhindered impunity to states to legitimize terrorism against their own citizens.

If not for the sincere hearts of the International Human Rights NGO’s, laudatory role played by the Channel 4 and some frank speaking UN officials and outright politicians around the world, the state terrorism against the Tamils would not have reached the corridors of international engagement. Unfortunately, Commonwealth Association did not play its due role to uphold its values, when large numbers of Tamil citizens were systematically dealt in a brutish way in Sri Lanka.

The inertia on the part of the Commonwealth Association is proceeding with the overt effort for the Commonwealth Conference to be held in Sri Lanka in November this year. Beyond the rights and wrongs of holding the conference, the Commonwealth Association has not declared that war crimes and systematic human rights violations in Sri Lanka will be one of the main agenda item to influence Sri Lanka to respond to the outcry of free and fair internal justice, failing which international justice will be the way forward.

Commonwealth Association will assert Sri Lanka is a weaker democracy needing all the support to improve its status. Unfortunately, we have heard this assertion through many sources for many decades now, but Sri Lanka is progressively failing and is becoming an authoritarian state. Mere rhetoric without interactive engagement and appropriate international interventions, Sri Lanka will never progress towards a tolerant, accommodative and a just democratic state.

In the process of undermining democracy, the present state of Sri Lanka has become an able mechanism to market its failures through shenanigan commercial and covert deals. The Commonwealth Association too has become a powerless body only providing lip service to the serious issues, when Sri Lanka is moving away from basic values needed for a democratic state.

The Commonwealth Association was upbeat following Fijian coup that was seen as undemocratic. The Commonwealth Association is blind to the irregular authoritarian process in Sri Lanka and vehemently safeguarding its lethargic behaviour. In that process value judgements are flirted and compromised to the extent of justice for the Tamils in Sri Lanka is overtly undermined.

This letter is sent for publication in the ‘Sri Lanka Guardian’-the e-media that was purged by the Democratic Socialist Commonwealth Republic of Sri Lanka.

I hope the Commonwealth Conference will change course for the Commonwealth Association on Sri Lanka. This hope remains despite caricaturing the Commonwealth Conference a talk shop. I also hope this letter will have little influence on you.

Thanking you.

R Jayadevan

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