Media Release – 26 April 2013
Malcolm Fraser reiterates call for Australia to reconsider attendance at CHOGM in Sri Lanka
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, the Australian Greens and the Australian Tamil Congress have joined over 2700 individuals to request that Prime Minister Julia Gillard reconsiders attending the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.
This call comes as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meets in London today (26 April).
A variety of international human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Elders are calling for a shift in the venue for this year’s CHOGM.
The petition (http://chn.ge/ZtzGS1) appeals to the Prime Minister to follow the example of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and announce that she will not attend CHOGM if there is no progress in Sri Lanka's human rights.
It has been launched by the Australian Tamil Congress and is part of a wider global campaign to stop Sri Lanka from hosting CHOGM.
ATC Chair Dr Raj Rajeswaran says, "The CMAG meeting is a watershed moment for the Commonwealth's relevance and commitment to its core principles of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, judicial independence and good governance. Australia should review its unconditional support for CHOGM in Sri Lanka and use its position as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth to place Sri Lanka formally on the agenda at the CMAG meeting today"
Greens Senator Rhiannon said "It is time Australia shows leadership on Sri Lanka, instead of being best friends in order to manage Tamils fleeing torture, rape and discrimination, arbitrary arrests at the hands of the brutal Rajapakse regime.
"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,” Senator Rhiannon said.
For media comment please call: Dr Rajeswaran 1300 660 629 Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880
Link to petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-reconsider-chogm-2013-in-sri-lanka