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Offline mayya

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Sri Lanka block calls unheeded
« on: November 12, 2013, 15:38:08 PM »
Sri Lanka block calls unheeded

ANDREA VANCE


Calls for the Government to block Sri Lanka's chairing of the Commonwealth in protest at human rights abuses have gone unheeded.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed yesterday he would attend a Commonwealth leaders' summit in Colombo later this week - and there would be no objection to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa assuming the chairmanship for the next two years.
Canadian and Indian prime ministers Stephen Harper and Manmohan Singh have pulled out of the multi-nation meeting.

Amnesty International, Tamil refugee advocate groups and the Greens have called on New Zealand to make a stand, with a protest march held in Auckland on Saturday.
But Key said there was no opportunity for him to act. "There is no mechanism for doing that," he said. "The appointment as chair took place effectively when they were named as the host back in Perth in 2011 . . . and practically speaking the main function of the chair is . . . to host the meeting that's taking place this week."

Instead, he will seek a meeting with Rajapaksa and point out in person concerns about human rights violations.
Key said holding the meeting in Colombo "shines a light on what's happening in Sri Lanka".
The Sri Lankan Government has repeatedly rejected allegations of human rights abuses and genocide against Tamil civilians.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully will also travel to the north of Sri Lanka, an area where more than 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in 2009 in the final stages of a 26-year civil war.
Amnesty New Zealand's executive director Grant Bayldon said the killings and kidnapping of people critical of the Sri Lankan Government remained rife.
"It's going to be very difficult for people to speak to McCully without endangering themselves," he said.

Green MP Jan Logie was detained in Colombo for two hours on Sunday as she tried to hold a press conference with local media.
Immigration officials confiscated her passport and claimed there was a problem with her visa, which she denied. She was on her way back to Wellington yesterday.
Logie has rejected claims her recent detainment by Sri Lankan authorities was a political stunt.

"At the basis of that argument, I'm struggling to understand it to be honest, because we have concerns about human rights abuses because there's been a lot of reports done telling us there's a problem."
She said the summit had a history of leading the world on human rights issues.
"And yet they're about to, unless we intervene, appoint an accused criminal as the head of the institution," she told Breakfast.

Meanwhile, Key's planned visit to Manila is under question as the Philippines recovers from Typhoon Haiyan. Officials were holding discussions last night to see if the two-day trip would take place.

Key will continue to Bangkok after the Sri Lanka summit to lead a trade delegation and meet the Thai prime minister.

- © Fairfax NZ News

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9388061/Sri-Lanka-block-calls-unheeded