The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting ended in Sri Lanka last week. Aside from messing up traffic for a few days, it was a big event that didn’t really have a big impact. The strange and by this point predictable thing was that it became, in the international media at least, about the war, war crimes etc. It’s like the only story Sri Lanka can conceivably be associated with is civil war. It also overshadowed whatever CHOGM was supposed to discuss. As far as I can tell from the Republic Square brief, this meeting accomplished close to nothing.
Archive for the 'International' Category
India’s Manomohan Singh and Canada’s Stephen Harper are not attending the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka. They say because of moral issues, but they act for political reasons – at best a crude approximation of the former. Singh is tired of getting shit from Tamil Nadu and Harper is tired of getting shit from the Tamil diaspora. For both of them disgruntled Tamils are a vote base and they respond to voters. Which is fine, that’s the political side. From that perspective it’s easy to say that these politicians are craven, but that’s missing the point, which is that politics does crudely approximate morality, sometimes, mainly on Thursdays.
The Maldives has finished its first round of voting since the coup that removed the last elected President, Mohamed (Anni) Nasheed. Anni has 45% compared to 25% for the brother of the former dictator (Abdulla Yameen) and 5% for the couper President (Mohamed Waheed). This, however, just means that there will be a second round of voting, and furious horse trading now, one presumes. It’s still unclear whether Anni’s MDP party can garner the required majority without working with other parties.
Is worth a read. She’s taken a thoughtful look around and despite the government’s allegations that she’s biased, she was, well, not very biased. Even in the face of offensive personal attacks from within the government (Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva asking to marry her for example, others calling the South African diplomat LTTE) she’s given a pretty straightforward report. Here, to me, is the money quote:
The choice the US faces, cause it has the bombs I guess, is whether to punish Bashar Al-Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people, as he almost surely did. They’re not invading Syria like they did Iraq and they seem to have no intention of ending the years long civil war there, if they even could. The attacks don’t seem intended to depose Assad, nor are they aiming to overthrow the murderous regime. America is basically deciding whether to give the dictator a slap.
I watched the first Egypt revolution with great hope and pride. This latest overthrow may have had greater numbers, but it’s actually quite sad. Earlier they overthrew a dictator, this time they overthrew a democratically elected President, ultimately through a military coup. And now the Army is shooting people that protest, over 50 in a recent spate of violence. It’s actually kinda depressing.
To quote Mili, Happy Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport Day. Seriously, the government has blanket state and non-state media with advertisements heralding the opening of a new airport in the rural south. They’re trying to buy buzz for a project which is too useless to generate it naturally. Nobody is talking about how awesome the Mattala Airport is of their own accord, so the government has used public money (and private advertising) to buy whole sections. The best is this Daily News article which starts off as a Dialog phone launch and inexplicably segways into a long story about the airport.
Sri Lankan law is loosely based on British law, with the big difference being that we don’t follow it. Sri Lankan government officials and their relatives are effectively above the law, free to commit crimes as far as rape and murder. In one example, sitting MP Duminda Silva previously dodged charges of statutory rape and now murder. Even lower level government officials have gotten away with murder (Re: Tangalle) and political sons have an open license to beat people up.
Rizana Nafeek was just killed by the Saudi government, executed if you want to put an imprint of justice on it. It’s not just. A child died in her care when she was working there at age 17, which was tragic. Saudi Arabia, however, has no real justice system, certainly not for foreigners. Based on a coerced confession (which she retracted) and despite the fact that she was a juvenile, the Saudi government has just executed her.
The ITU (the UN’s ICT Agency) is trying to introduce regulations that would nationalize the Internet, forcing countries to pay fees for content people download and expanding the authority of national governments to censor and control content. Essentially, this body of regulators who I thought mainly held conferences with each other is trying to stage a bit of a coup and take over the Internet. Thankfully, it seems like this won’t happen.