The recent push to boycott and/or highlight the gross human rights abuses in Sri Lanka during the Galle Literary Festival – something I supported with a strongly worded petition – continues now in a different form:
An international human rights watchdog has called on over 50 invited countries to boycott a conference aimed at sharing Sri Lanka’s war experience.
The Sri Lankan government has invited militaries of 54 countries for the “Defeating Terrorism Sri Lankan Experience” to be held from 31 May to 02 June in Colombo.
But Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it “understands” that some of the key invitees have already decided not to take part.
“What we are telling the militaries around the world is that they should not attend a meeting to celebrate a military policy that involves killing so many civilians,” HRW Executive Director Brad Adams told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.
Foreign Minister GL Peiris, Secretary to President Lalith Weerathunga, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Central Bank Governor Ajith Cabraal, terrorism expert Prof Rohan Gunaratne and many senior military officers are among the list of speakers.
“It will endeavour to propose adequate measures to manage and counter global terrorism and discuss strategies for nation building while introducing a Sri Lankan perspective in counter terrorism,” said the statement in the defence ministry run website.
But the rights watchdog says many of the tactics employed by the Sri Lankan military in its war against the Tamil Tigers were “illegal.”
“If militaries around the world are going to meet they should be talking about those illegal activities and not trying to copy the Sri Lankan government’s doctrine,” Mr Adams said.