As the UK Prime Minister and other leaders prepare to attend a Commonwealth gathering in Sri Lanka, its government has criticised his pledge to flag up concerns about human rights. It is estimated that tens of thousands of civilians were killed by the regime and Tiger rebels at the end of a brutal civil war.
Sri Lanka’s regime is preparing to host a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in mid-November. Embarrassingly, however, a disturbing documentary containing evidence of atrocities towards the end of the island’s civil war was broadcast by Channel 4.
At a press conference in Colombo on 31 August 2013, United Nations high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay highlighted serious ongoing concerns, while recognising progress in some areas. Numerous people continue to be denied human rights, in part because so many others are in denial about abuses by state or rebel forces.
In July 1983 in Sri Lanka, state-sponsored violence and undermining of democracy led to lengthy civil war and widespread suffering. Thirty years later, it would appear that many have failed to learn from the past.