Rajapaksa’s Day at the Games

So, now Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka with the deaths of tens of thousands of Tamil-speaking people on his hands, has been rewarded with an invite to the Commonwealth Games in India. He is a guest of honour at the closing ceremony. How quickly the ‘international community’ brushes past crimes under the carpet!

The decision has outraged Tamil-speaking people the world over – still mourning the deaths of loved ones, still searching for the disappeared, still fighting for justice. It is another kick in the teeth to their rights. And it will be seen as a vindication and support for the brutal regime of Rajapaksa, his close family and the other cronies in power in Sri Lanka.

The regime will use this extra cover of respectability to continue its policies of oppression against the Tamil-speaking people, clamping down on the rights of workers and other oppressed people in Sri Lanka, as well as on other democratic rights, such as press and media freedom.

It is another example that the often-cited claim that the Commonwealth upholds so-called ‘international law’ and ‘human rights’, is nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Of course, the Indian government, which is behind this invitation, is keen to have friendly relations with the strategically and economically important Sri Lanka. It wants to counter increasing Chinese influence in the area. So, as long as that remains the case, the Rajapaksa regime can expect many more invites to events such as these, and to continue to receive economic aid, military training and weapons of mass destruction, not only from the Indian and Chinese states but also from their counterparts in the west, such as Britain.