Several prominent Australians, including former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, have asked the federal government to consider boycotting a major Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka later this year.
Mr. Fraser has signed a petition calling on Australia to join hands with Canada in avoiding the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November this year, The Australian newspaper reported.
Organised by the Australian Tamil Congress, the petition calls on the government to insist on a new host country ‘unless there is significant progress on Sri Lanka’s human rights record’, the report said.
Till now the petition has been signed by 2700 people and is a part of a wider campaign to stop Sri Lanka from hosting the summit.
Australian Greens party senator Lee Rhiannon said it’s time for Australia to show leadership.
“It is wrong that a country that stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity is allowed to build international legitimacy by using international bodies such as CHOGM,” she said.
Earlier, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday asked the Commonwealth forum to shift CHOGM meeting from Sri Lanka, unless Colombo makes prompt, measurable and meaningful progress on human rights.
Such a demand from the HRW comes after the Canadian government recently confirmed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend CHOGM unless the Sri Lankan government makes progress on human rights and judicial independence.
HRW alleges Sri Lanka has taken no meaningful steps to address serious abuses by government forces in the last stages of the conflict against the LTTE in 2009.
Since 2009, Sri Lankan 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 imperilling Sri Lanka’s democracy, it said.
Sri Lanka dismisses all accusations as politically motivated, unfounded and directed by the pro-LTTE diaspora in the West.