Written by Staff Writer
18 Nov, 2013 | 1:31 pm
A former Australian diplomat who has worked in Sri Lanka says the divisions over human rights abuses that put a dark cloud over CHOGM are a good thing for the Commonwealth and there should be more of it.
The leaders of India, Canada and Mauritius pulled out of attending the meeting in Sri Lanka. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron did attend but publicly called for Sri Lanka to address its human rights record. Bruce Haigh, has worked in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia for the Australian Foreign Affairs Department and was the Australian Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka in 1994. He says the issues surrounding alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka led to country’s bloody civil war, and he’s pleased that nations have used CHOGM to highlight it.
Presenter: Iskhandar Razak
Speaker: Bruce Haigh, political commentator and former Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
HAIGH: This is good, organisations need this, organisations don’t have this sort of internal debate and dissent, then they just fade away.
Now, what’s happened in Colombo means that CHOGM’s is not about to fade away, that people actually see it as being relevant.
RAZAK: But relevant enough to not even go and then doesn’t that mean that it’s not…?
HAIGH: They have to say that they weren’t going to go. I mean they just didn’t turn. It wasn’t as if they had a better offer on their plate. They actually said, well, we’re not going to go to CHOGM, which when people just say oh, CHOGM, I’m not going to go, which has happened to some regional associations. People have just said oh, it’s just not worth going. I mean they’re just moribund. No one’s saying that the Commonwealth is moribund and as I say, this will put some life into it.
RAZAK: Twenty seven out of the 53 attended though. Isn’t that shocking numbers really when you think about it?
HAIGH: Ah, it’s not good, but I mean they, a lot of people probably thought there might be, it might turn into a big bun fight and they didn’t want to be associated with that.
I can’t, I don’t know. We haven’t heard the reasons why people, other people didn’t go, but it could have been that they just thought they didn’t want to be party to it.
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