Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to Sri Lanka to praise President Mahinda Rajapakse, not to bury him under the weight of human rights abuse allegations that completely dominated this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
We are here to praise as much as judge, he told the forum’s opening meeting, lauding the ending of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and the development in the country since.
For his fealty, he was rewarded. Sri Lanka has vowed to further help Mr Abbott with his No.1 domestic priority,
stopping the boats of asylum seekers looking to go to Australia.
The countries’ existing co-operation has been extended, with Australia giving Sri Lanka two patrol boats, so that asylum seekers might be intercepted before they leave Sri Lankan waters.
(The inconvenient truth that navy sailors have been arrested and charged with running the biggest people-smuggling ring in the country is being, publicly at least, downplayed.)
Mr Abbott came to CHOGM, a meeting of 53 member nations, with an entirely domestic agenda. He needed Sri Lankan support to combat people smuggling, and so was unwilling to criticise his hosts.
While human rights concerns — forced abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings by state forces, land seizures by the military and oppression of political opponents — dominated every public CHOGM event, Mr Abbott sidestepped these at every turn — via redwolf.newsvine.com