Australian Labor MP calls for CHOGM boycott
Breaking ranks with his Labor party in Australia, John Murphy, a federal backbencher, has called for the boycott of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). "All the empirical and other evidence today indicates an arrogant reluctance by the Sri Lankan government to deal properly with these very, very serious allegations and so I’ve reached the conclusion that the best step would be for our country to boycott CHOGM," Australian media has reported the MP as saying. Tamil political observers watching Canada’s open stance against holding the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka and Australia extending open support for going ahead with the summit, as an outcome of the West’s ‘carrot and stick policy’ towards the Sri Lankan State.
"The Sri Lankan government is not listening to the international community in relation to conducting an independent and credible investigation into the allegations and violations of international human rights,” Labor MP John Murphy has said.
“I think the time has come to send a powerful message to the [Sri Lankan] Government that international leaders should boycott CHOGM,” he has further said.
The Federal Opposition in Australia has been supporting Australian government’s position.
Greens leader Christine Milne and former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser have been supporting the call for a boycott. The Commonwealth of Nations is not a political unit, but a voluntary association of 54 countries.
Queen Elizabeth holds the honorary position as the head of the Commonwealth. A rotating group of 9 foreign ministers in a body known as Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) function as a governing body, taking key decisions.
SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the commander-in-chief of the war-crimes accused Sri Lankan military would become the Chairperson-in-Office by holding the summit, taking that position from the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard.
Despite Canadian Foreign Minister’s public call, the CMAG has failed to discuss Sri Lanka on its formal agenda during CMAG’s meeting in London Friday.
The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has told reporters in London that “no member of government has indicated remotely that it wishes to change the venue.”
The Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has gone on record saying Commonwealth is “accommodating evil” by allowing Sri Lanka hosting Sri Lanka to host the summit.
“We’ve seen no meaningful attempt at reconciliation with the Tamil population. If anything it’s getting worse,” Mr Baird has said expressing solidarity with the protesters in London recently.
But, Australia’s foreign minister Bob Carr has gone on record as saying: "Apart from Canada, I can identify no other country in the… Commonwealth that would not be represented at Colombo,” adding “I’m not aware the Canadians have [even] made a final decision on that.”
In the meantime, New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada has called on the Canadian government to take a principled position by not sending any delegation to the CHOGM if held in Sri Lanka.
“What we’re calling for is a strong and principled position by the Government of Canada. At this point, we can’t see how the government can justify sending any delegation from Canada to attend the meetings in Sri Lanka,” Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paul Dewar from the NDP told TamilNet.