In recent weeks, the Harper government — and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird specifically — has launched a series of verbal salvos at the Sri Lankan government about its human rights record.
At issue, is an upcoming Commonwealth summit scheduled to take place on the island nation in November. According to the Canadian Press, the Harper government is making it clear that they'd like to see the meeting moved to another country unless there are major human rights reforms.
[ Related: Canada 'appalled' Sri Lanka chosen to host CHOGM ]
As you might imagine, some Sri Lankans haven't taken kindly to that.
On Tuesday, the Daily News, Sri Lanka's 'national newspaper' since 1912, published a scathing editorial about Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
The snarling of the two men carry no weight because both have little credibility - Stephen Harper has never managed to win a national election in Canada in his own right, and resorts to the anti-democratic practice of proroguing whenever he is about to face difficult questions in Parliament; Baird is a buffoon, a former provincial politician and ‘wannabe’ future leader of the Conservatives trying to achieve his aim by kow-towing to the monied Israeli lobby in Canada. The two men, not known for their intelligence or subtlety in international affairs, are the butt of jokes among the Canadian media and bureaucracy.
You can read the full article written by Dr. Kamal Wickremasinghe here.
It goes on to chronicle Canada's human rights record with regard to First Nations and then lists a series of complaints, about Canada, from other countries around the world.
Russia expressed alarm over Canada’s “Police actions of torture and cruelty against peaceful demonstrators and China complained of “widespread racial discrimination in Canada.”
North Korea, perhaps mockingly, expressed serious concerns about “continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia” in Canada; Iran did likewise by referring to “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, and discriminatory laws against Indigenous people and minority groups including Muslims, Arabs and African communities”; Egypt complained of “racial profiling of Muslims in law-enforcement action”; Cuba was concerned with “racism and xenophobia” in Canada.
The harsh language was probably buoyed by a recent article in the UK's Guardian, where Baird launched what the newspaper called a "blistering attack."
"We're appalled that Sri Lanka seems poised to host CHOGM and to be chair-in-residence of the Commonwealth for two years," he told the Guardian.
"Canada didn't get involved in the Commonwealth to accommodate evil; we came to combat it."
The Harper government aren't the only ones who feel this way. Human Rights Watch — an independent organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights — contends that the Sri Lankan government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa "has taken no meaningful steps to address serious abuses by government forces in the final months of the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009."
"The United Nations (UN) has estimated that up to 40,000 civilians died," notes a recent Human Rights Watch release calling for the Commonwealth meetings to be moved.
"Since 2009 the government has been responsible for a worsening human rights situation that includes clampdowns on basic freedoms, threats and attacks against civil society, and actions against the judiciary and other institutions, imperiling Sri Lanka’s democracy."
To date, Harper has not explicitly said whether or not he will boycott the 'head of government' meeting if it does take place as scheduled.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters)
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