ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 22

Commonwealth Society cagey over Sri Lanka discussion

From Neville de Silva, in London

With three days to go for the proposed discussion on Sri Lanka the Royal Commonwealth Society which is hosting the event continues to maintain a deafening silence over the panel of speakers.

Inquiries from the RCS Public Affairs Department by The Sunday Times for a list of the panellists and details of their respective backgrounds have gone unanswered despite pointing out the urgency since the public have been kept in the dark after numerous protests scuttled the first panel of ‘young stakeholders’ that included the editor of the pro-LTTE Tamil Guardian.

Some Sri Lankans who protested over the arbitrary selection of the panel which had the Tamil Guardian editor as the only confirmed speaker when the meeting was first publicised, argued that the RCS was pandering to the LTTE, a group proscribed in the UK for the last five years as a foreign terrorist organisation. Following protests by the Sri Lanka High Commission for the RCS diplomatic faux pas in asking the Sri Lanka envoy to sum up the days proceedings without earlier intimation or invitation, Sri Lankans of all ethnic groups have taken up the cry and demanded a fair and balanced panel if the discussion is to be a productive one.

This was particularly important they said since the RCS had indicated it intended to invite foreign diplomats and politicians for the discussion which is expected to produce ‘solutions’ to the Sri Lanka problem and which has thrown open the doors for participants to chip in with personal experiences.

Sri Lankans, including non-LTTE Tamil groups and Muslims, believe this was an ‘open sesame’ for LTTE supporters to hug the podium with gory details which there is no way of refuting at the time.

Several Sri Lankan groups have threatened to protest outside the RCS in Marlborough Street on October 31 unless the society discloses the panellists well in time as they fear that any replacements for the Tamil Guardian editor will be of the same political hue.
It is understood that up to 15 protestors could hold public demonstrations without police permission as long as they do not disturb the peace.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.