After the circus

Banyan-Nov 18th 2013,
“HAS the circus left town? Can I lease return to Colo!"o now?# as$e% a &witter user, the !ornin' after lea%ers of the Co!!onwealth en%e% their !eetin' in the Sri (an$an ca ital) &he circus is 'one) &he olice chief has 'iven hun%re%s of olice!en three %a*s off to recu erate) A%vertise!ents toutin' the su!!it as a “victor*#+hoste% in %efiance of %e!an%s that the venue "e chan'e% "ecause of the countr*,s %is!al hu!an-ri'hts recor%+will soon "e off air) Sri (an$ans are %ivi%e% over what the e- ensive shin%i' has achieve%) .ost woul% a'ree, however, that "a% u"licit* to s the list) International covera'e focuse% heavil* on %isa earances of eo le %urin' an% after the civil war, !e%ia su ression an%

ersistent alle'ations that war cri!es were co!!itte% in 200/ as &a!il &i'er re"els were crushe%) &he resi%ent, .ahin%a 0a1a a$sa, ha% ho e% these !atters woul% sta* hi%%en "eneath new ave!ents s eciall* lai% in the ca ital for the su!!it, or that the hun%re%s of 1ournalists who conver'e% on Colo!"o woul% "e %istracte% "* lan%sca e% ar$s, coloure% fountains an% a !a'nificent line-u of 'ar"e% ele hants) 2ut at three ress conferences he atten%e%, he was 3uestione% re eate%l* a"out his failure to hol% an*one accounta"le for the %eaths of nearl* 40,000 civilians at the war,s en%) &he Co!!onwealth Secretariat,s !o%erator as$e%, crin'in'l*, whether an*one ha% an* 3uestions not a"out Sri (an$a an% hu!an ri'hts) &he* %i% not) &he resi%ent an% his haw$ish 'overn!ent shoul% have e- ecte% as !uch) &he !eetin' ha% "een rece%e% "* "o*cott calls) 5ri!e !inisters of Cana%a an% .auritius $e t awa*, citin' hu!an ri'hts concerns) 6ivin' into ressure fro! otential coalition artners in &a!il Na%u, the In%ian ri!e !inister, .an!ohan Sin'h, also "ac$e% out) In all, onl* 24 hea%s of 'overn!ent showe% u +the lowest such count for a Co!!onwealth su!!it in %eca%es) .ore trou"lin', however, were so!e who %i% co!e) &he 2ritish ri!e !inister, 7avi% Ca!eron, use% his visit to tell the 'overn!ent it !ust carr* out a cre%i"le, trans arent an% in%e en%ent investi'ation into alle'e% war cri!es "* .arch) If it fails, he warne%, 2ritain woul% use its osition in the 8N Hu!an 0i'hts Council to ress for an international in3uir*)

&he Sri (an$an 'overn!ent is "ristlin') Its su

orters as$ who .r Ca!eron thin$s he

is to issue %ea%lines to a soverei'n countr*) &he local ress accuses hi! of la*in' for the votes of &a!ils in 2ritain) Sri (an$an !inisters sa* forei'ners have no ri'ht to !e%%le in their affairs) 2ut ai%es whis er that, "ehin% close% %oors, the 'overn!ent $nows forei'n 'overn!ents are no lon'er "u*in' its e-cuses) So!ethin' !ore !i'ht have to "e %one, ro"a"l* "efore the Hu!an 0i'hts Council convenes in .arch) 9ne o tion for .r 0a1a a$sa is to turn to South Africa for 'ui%ance) Its resi%ent, :aco" ;u!a, has share% with the 'overn!ent an% the &a!il National Alliance, which runs Sri (an$a,s northern rovince after an election in Se te!"er, a su''estion for a truth an% reconciliation co!!ission) It is har% to "elieve that .r 0a1a a$sa will actuall* follow throu'h) .ost of the ro osals !a%e "* its own (essons (earnt an% 0econciliation Co!!ission <the wor% “truth# was avoi%e% in the title= are *et to "e i! le!ente%) It or%ere% the ar!* to investi'ate a han%ful of war-cri!es alle'ations !entione% in the co!!ission,s re ort) &he ar!* e-onerate% itself) 7o!estic ressure to %o so!ethin' !ore !a* "e sustaine%) &he Islan% news a er, a nationalist one that "ac$e% the war a'ainst the &i'ers, sai% in an e%itorial on Nove!"er 18th that .r 0a1a a$sa shoul% not e- ect his ro"le!s on this issue to 'o awa*) &a!il an% other oliticians !a* also ush har%er) &he su!!it over, so!e activists fear a 'overn!ent crac$%own as forei'n attention !oves on) 5eo le who !et with .r Ca!eron %urin' a visit to the North, inclu%in'

relatives of the %isa

eare%, !a* "e at articular ris$ of harass!ent an% inti!i%ation)

>et the resi%ent,s o ularit* a!on' !a1orit* Sinhala 2u%%hists is li$el* to 'row) Alrea%*, the* see hi! as a victi! of an international cons irac* to "rin' a"out re'i!e chan'e in favour of a !ore lia"le 'overn!ent) ?ith In%ia an% the ?est loo$in' less frien%l* than ever, it !i'ht "e articularl* te! tin' for .r 0a1a a$sa to lean closer to China in the co!in' !onths) However .r 0a1a a$sa will re!ain as no!inal hea% of the Co!!onwealth for the ne-t two *ears, where %e"ate a"out his countr* is also li$el* to flare) Havin' as$e% to "e in the s otli'ht, the Sri (an$an resi%ent can har%l* co! lain a"out the circus now) <5icture cre%it@ AA5=