Monday, 4 November 2013

CHOGM a Club of old “friends” ?

A club is defined as a formal association of people with similar interest.  Hence we could perhaps call the CHOGM a Club where the old Colonial Ruler and the leaders of its former colonies get together for a friendly pow-wow about each other and their concerns.  They have shed their Colonial garbs and meet as leaders of Sovereign States on equal terms. 

They meet as friends now  though  memory of the colonisation by the British is filled with hatred for the brutality  beyond  any comparison to “violation of human rights” with which it clamped the rebellions against colonial rule by the  native National leaders, who are still remembered by the people of these countries as heroes.

That extreme  brutality with which the Colonial rulers enforced their authority over the native population cannot be erased from the minds of the people however much they  Club out as friends. 

In addition to that is  the modern idea of a “violation of human rights” with which  the former  Colonial British turned a Commonwealth member Nation,  and the members of the Commonwealth fraternity such as Canada, accuse Sri Lanka. It is an aberration of the whole purpose of being members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The different Nations of the Commonwealth having a grievance with any other Nation of the Commonwealth,  should forget those grievances and give time for the people of the now  independent former Colonies to erase those  memories of the past from their minds and make an effort to establish real acceptable political  relationships  for a meaning full  existence of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The members of the Commonwealth should evaluate concepts such as violation of human rights and examine the context in which it could be applied. Accusing any country for violation of human rights in the course of its fight against terrorism is not correct. Such cases should be  taken out side the ambit of violation of human rights. 

Sri Lanka which suffered under terrorism for thirty years has, while  making great human and material sacrifice eliminated terrorism, and at last breathes the air of peace and freedom and is going ahead with development of the country which had been neglected for over three decade. 

Is it now correct for the Nations that form the fraternity of the Commonwealth of Nations to accuse Sri Lanka for violation of human rights at the  last phase of the  elimination of terrorism-  terrorism  which for three decades almost on a daily basis had  been massacring its innocent people, assassinating and wounding  its  Presidents, intellectuals, Ministers, Military Commanders,  officials, and so on ?

Sri Lanka is ready to forget  the past and forge ahead contributing to the fraternity of the Commonwealth of Nations, provided the other members understand the situation of Sri Lanka and in the spirit of the unity of the Commonwealth of Nations discuss matters concerning her in a civilised manner, without adopting  low tac-tics merely to reach out to ill informed expatriate Tamils in return for their votes.

The CHOGM is  the meeting of the Head of Governments  belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations.  It is held once in every two years in different countries of the Commonwealth in rotation.  The first CHOGM was held in 1971 in Singapore .  There had been 21 such meetings so far.  The venue is selected on the invitation of a Member State.  There is nothing special in the selection of the country of the meeting.  This year the CHOGM is to be held in Sri Lanka. 

There is an unusual and  unseemly uproar about the event being held in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had been one of the poor developing countries within the Commonwealth until now.  It had gone through an unprecedented upheaval  through ruthless terrorism introduced to it by a neighbouring Sate using the youth from  Sri Lanka’s Tamil Community, creating an ethnic bias. This ethnic bias  continues to hamper Sri Lanka’s progress and development even after the elimination of  terrorism.

It is this ethnic bias which has created present commotion with regard to the holding of the CHOGM in Sri Lanka.   CHOGM is only a normal event, but the elimination of the terrorism is being used by some interested parties as a discrimination by the Government against the ethnic Tamil Community to which the terrorists belonged. These anti Government Tamil population based  in Countries abroad are forcing some Countries like Canada, India and even UK to boycott the CHOGM to be held in Sri Lanka.

It is not in the spirit of the Commonwealth of Nations to uphold the voices coming from out side Sri Lanka against the participation in the CHOGM.  The venue for the holding of CHOGM is not selected for political, social or cultural reasons.  It is selected  on an invitation extended by a Country of the Commonwealth, and accepted at the previous CHOGM.  

The last CHOGM was held in Australia, and it was then that the invitation to hold the next CHOGM in Sri Lanka was accepted.  The next venue for the CHOGM may probably be in Mauritius if the invitation is accepted at the CHOGM held in Colombo.  Therefore all the commotion that has been let loose in India , Canada, and UK  should not affect in any way the holding of the CHOGM in Sri Lanka.

The CHOGM  discusses issues such as , “….   include international peace and security, democracy, climate change, multilateral trade issues, good governance, sustainable development, small states, debt management, education, environment, gender equality, health, human rights, information and communication technology, and youth affairs. ”

It is said that, “After a formal opening ceremony and a formal Executive Session, the leaders meet privately in a ‘Retreat’ setting. The atmosphere is informal, encouraging a full and frank exchange of views, and decisions are reached by consensus. ”

They meet in CHOGM  to discuss matters affecting each other. They discuss how their relations could be improved and in what different ways the problems of one country  could be settled  by help and support from the others.

Therefore, in CHOGM there are no fist cuffs, bashes and brawls. It is not a  tribunal or an unfriendly get together where they accuse each other and  chose  winners or losers.   Nor do they behave like a pack of hyaenas  growling and snapping at each other over an animal carcass.

CHOGM helps to keep the Commonwealth of Nations together. They speak the same language, therefore  they can make each other understand, and better understanding brings better relationships.  At CHOGM they  discuss political , economic, cultural or  social matters in different ways and find remedies to problems. 

They do that to help each other as  Members of the Commonwealth of Nations and not to please outsiders, or win elections. Therefore both Canada and India should  attend the CHOGM as members of the Commonwealth, to discuss problems and offer solutions.  Their political problems are not the concern of the CHOGM.

Both India and Canada should learn to separate their internal political problems, from their affiliations with the Commonwealth of Nations, and attend the CHOGM at least through respect to the participating Nations of the Commonwealth.

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