Our Prime Minister’s Curious Stand Against Sri Lanka

Stephen-HarperWritten By: Athithan Kurukulasi​ngam

Stephen Harper, the name usually dictates a flurry of negative comments and opinions over our sometimes overzealous leader. It can be argued that this sort of treatment is warranted and somewhat justified but for once lets stand up and applaud our leader. Mr. Harper has taken a firm stand in the throwing light at the atrocities perpetrated by Sri Lanka against its minority Tamils. Next month’s Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka will have one less member, and that is Canada. Mr. Harper has firmly stated that he will boycott the meeting. That official statement in itself could have been considered a great step forward in our efforts to unmask to the world the real truth behind the genocide; however, Mr. Harper went and took a further step and pointed out the reasons for his decision. “Canada is deeply concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka. The absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war is unacceptable. Canada noted with concern the impeachment of the Sri Lankan Chief Justice earlier this year, and we remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings” (Harper, 2013). With that brief statement, Mr. Harper showed that he was serious and that his threats of skipping the summit starting from 2011 was coming to fruition.

Mr. Harper’s absence at next month’s summit will also be noticed beyond the physical absence. Mr. Harper has also threatened to cut the purse strings to the commonwealth organization. Canada is the second largest contributor to the commonwealth rounding in at about $20 million dollars annually (Cheadle, 2013). Having such a large financial contributor to the Commonwealth suddenly drop funding would almost be a crippling act. This is a statement that should not be taken lightly by the rest of the member nations. However, as one would expect, Sri Lankan officials immediately came back with their fabricated response. I say fabricated because Sri Lankan officials are known to misconstrue statements and leave out key details in coming out with official statements and reports. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister G.L Peiris claims that Canada is totally isolated in their decision (Huffington Post, 2013). Mr. Harper states that “the Commonwealth must defend the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity in order to remain relevant” (Canadian Press, 2013). In a comical twist, the Foreign Minister goes on to say that the Commonwealth is not an arena to pass on judgement. Apparently every country has problems and it is up to that government to resolve those issues in lieu of the aspirations of their people (Huffington Post, 2013). Once again Sri Lanka is a country that will solve all their problems internally and will not allow of outside intervention. This theme has become all too familiar. Necessary steps have to be taken by the international community to de-legitimatize the Sri Lankan government.

Our Prime Minister has taken a crucial step in the fight against Sri Lanka. So much is wrong from their past and their present. People are still being tortured and ultimately go ‘missing’. Families have been displaced and even worse wiped off the face of the earth without hesitation. There are more Tamil women who are the sole breadwinners of their families than ever before. These families continue to face hardships that one cannot imagine and yet the international community stands idle. Our Prime Minster has taken a stand. He acknowledges in some wavering form that the Genocide did happen where many others turned a blind eye. Our Prime Minister has intricately pointed out the convenient disappearances, the frequent harassment of minority Tamils,  the incarceration of political leaders and so on and so forth. He alone seems to be the only one who realises that there is a serious deteriorating human rights issue in Sri Lanka.  All it takes is one man to who stands up for what he thinks is wrong.

Mr. Harper is no doubt going to face critical judgement and backlash to some degree. Where many countries take the easy way out, our Prime Minister has taken the path less traveled. One can only hope that this bold act doesn’t go unnoticed. It is almost shocking how the people of the world can rise for a cause when their own nations political leaders stand upright without wavering. All it takes is another country to join our Prime Minister and stand together. A single pebble can cause an avalanche, let’s just hope Mr. Harper is that pebble.


Canadian Press. (2013, October 7). Politics. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/harper-scrubs-sri-lanka-visit-over-human-rights-violations-1.1928065

Cheadle, B. (2013, October 7). Canadian Politics. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from National Post: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/10/07/stephen-harper-says-hell-boycott-commonwealth-summit-in-sri-lanka-citing-ongoing-human-rights-abuses/

Harper, S. (2013, October 7). Statement By the Prime Minister of Canada.

Huffington Post. (2013, October 12). Harper Commonwealth Boycott Slammed By Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/09/harper-commonwealth-boycott-sri-lanka_n_4071334.html


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