Open Letter to Leaders of CHOGN

My Dear CHOGM leaders,

When you read this, most of you will be packing your bags to return to your respective countries, having enjoyed Sri Lankan hospitality for the past few days-and also heard a lot about various allegations being leveled against our country, which is why I thought I must write to you.

It is almost as if CHOGM was not about the Commonwealth-and it is all about what Sri Lanka did when it defeated the Tigers. There were many who were here pushing this as their agenda but they forget that if the Tigers were not defeated, there wouldn’t have been a CHOGM in Colombo at all.

Why, there is young David, who thinks his country still rules the waves and waives the rules. He talks as if he is still the colonial master of the British Empire, strutting around thinking that he is the most important person on the guest list-why, even that jolly old chap Charles must be embarrassed!

He started making noises from London even before he arrived here, saying he wanted to have some “tough conversations” with Mahinda maama and then calling for “independent investigations” into what he claims are “war crimes” committed in Sri Lanka during the last stages of the Eelam war.

Now, dear CHOGM leaders, if David wants to have “tough conversations” about war crimes he can begin by asking Tony Blair about Iraq. Then, if he is really the tough guy that he claims to be, he can ask Obama about drone attacks in Pakistan. Or, he can look in the mirror and ask himself about Libya.

Despite suffering from his colonial hangover, David toured Jaffna and said what he has to say about it. In contrast, when Mahinda maama tried to deliver a lecture at Oxford, the Brits didn’t allow it, saying they couldn’t guarantee his safety. So, which country is more free and democratic, I ask?

Now, if Mahinda maama were to go to Northern Ireland and say that he wanted to tour that region to see what atrocities were committed by British troops during the conflict there, would the British allow that, I wonder? We all know the answer to that question, don’t we?

Then, dear CHOGM leaders, there are those chaps from Channel 4 who believe that they are God’s gift to journalism. They too believe they can broadcast anything about Sri Lanka and that it should be taken as the Gospel truth. But they haven’t made any documentaries about Tiger atrocities, have they?

The very fact that Channel 4 are here, running around and making a big din about it, should tell you that there is a degree of freedom for the media here although there is always room for improvement. And, I do hope they pay that cab driver who brought them to Colombo before they leave our shores!

And while you are here, dear CHOGM leaders, spare a thought for those who couldn’t be with you. There is that Harper fellow from Canada who started the ‘boycott Colombo’ campaign. Well, he has to get votes from the Diaspora if he wants to remain in office, so he has to do what he did.

And it is the same story for old Manmohan from India too. Over there the tail is wagging the dog, so when Jayalalithaa says ‘Don’t go’ Manmohan cannot go. It is as simple as that. He may be the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy but he has to bow to the dictates of a woman scorned!

We do understand that Manmohan needs to win that election in May next year but don’t blame us if the Chinese come visiting and offering to help us out. When India is repeatedly endorsing resolutions against us at the UN, maybe we should treat China as our ‘good neighbour’ instead of them!

But dear CHOGM leaders, the summit made us realise that we are not without friends in the Commonwealth. Why, we had that good Aussie bloke Abbott stating a few home truths about terrorism, how it has been defeated and how we are a safer, more peaceful country because of that.

Some of you may argue that he is saying that because we have been helpful to him in dealing with asylum seekers flooding his country, but then he correctly identified terrorism as just that and agreed that it needed to be defeated-not dressed up and paraded as human rights, so we are thankful for that.

Dear CHOGM leaders, you must have seen by now that despite all that has been said about our little country, it is a better place than it was a few years ago, when the war was raging. I just hope that those who want to ‘punish’ us realise that they are in fact, delaying the healing of old wounds!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha



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