Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 18th 2013 Contents COLOMBO, Sri Lanka---Leaders
including South Africa s president
said Sunday that they are ready to
help Sri Lanka achieve postwar
healing, as the island nation closed
a Commonwealth summit held
amid international outcry over its
human rights record.
The summit was dogged by con-
stant attention to Sri Lanka's refusal
to allow international inquiries into
alleged atrocities committed during
and after its 27-year civil war, which
ended in 2009.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has
said his troops committed no abuses
during or since the country's brutal
civil war against ethnic Tamils fight-
ing for a homeland in the island's
north. Rajapaksa has also said his
country's institutions are actively
processing mounting abuse com-
plaints that include reports of miss-
ing people, attacks against journalists
and harassment of government crit-
"It will take time," he said during
a news conference closing the sum-
mit. "We have to change the minds
and thinking of the people, not only
in the north, but in the south, too."
Rajapaksa's government has
staunchly refused international calls
for an independent inquiry, seeing
it as an invasion into domestic mat-
"You must respect our views also,
without trying to put us in the cor-
ner," he said.
On Saturday, British Prime Min-
ister David Cameron gave Sri Lanka
a March deadline for showing
progress on postwar reconciliation,
after which he said he would press
the issue with the United Nations.
"You can't say do it in one week
or four months. That's very unfair,"
The leaders of Canada and Mau-
ritius boycotted the summit over Sri
Lanka's human rights record. India's
prime minister sent his foreign min-
ister in his place, with Indian Tamil
voters demanding a boycott.
But Cameron and other leaders
who defied calls to boycott the sum-
mit argued that engaging Sri Lanka
was a better plan.
South African President Jacob
Zuma, whose country is still working
on reconciling its minority white
and majority black populations after
abolishing apartheid in 1990, said
he shared lessons on reconciliation
with the Sri Lankan government.
"We have some experience to
offer," Zuma said, adding that his
country was ready to help further
"if there's a need for South Africa
to play a role."
Rights groups questioned Sri
Lanka's resolve in addressing the
rights issues, noting a deterioration
in the rule of law in recent years and
ongoing media harassment. Since
Rajapaksa became president in 2005,
more than 80 journalists have fled---
26 of them in the last five years.
Leaders who attended described
the summit as a success and empha-
sised the importance of keeping the
group of Britain and its former ter-
ritories together in order to lobby in
other international forums as one
unit that shares linguistic and judicial
colonial residues, while representing
a third of the world's population and
a fifth of its economy.
"We should not be divided,"
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib
Razak said, adding that the 27 leaders
who attended out of 53 Common-
wealth nations expressed a "sense
of wanting to stay together."
"We can benefit from sitting down
and learning from each other," he
The Commonwealth leaders pro-
duced a final document committing
once more to the group's core values,
including democracy and human
rights, as well as outlining plans to
push for changes to international
lending that would help small
nations access loans and financing
for projects to help cope with the
effects of climate change.
The next Commonwealth summit
will be in Malta in 2015. (AP)
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TEHRAN, Iran---Iran's foreign minis-
ter says his there is no need for world
powers to publicly acknowledge Iran's
"right" to uranium enrichment, offer-
ing a potential way to sidestep another
sticking point on a possible nuclear
deal when talks resume later this week.
Mohammad Javad Zarif's remarks
appear to give more latitude over pre-
vious demands that the West declare
that Tehran has international clearance
to produce nuclear fuel since Iran is a
signer of a UN treaty governing atomic
The US and others have balked at
supporting Iran's "right" to enrich
Zarif was quoted by the semiofficial
ISNA news agency as calling "the right
of enrichment" as nonnegotiable. But
added there was "no necessity for its
recognition as a right" because it is
self-evident in the UN treaty. (AP)
Iran: No need for West to declare uranium 'right'
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures as he answers during a
media briefing on the final day of the Commonwealth Heads of
Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday.
Commonwealth nations to
help postwar Sri Lanka
Demonstrators hold a banner reading 'First right: to live' as they march shouting
against abortion in Madrid, Spain, Sunday. AP PHOTO
MOSCOW---A Russian pas-
senger airliner crashed last
night while trying to land at
the airport in the city of
Kazan, killing all 50 people
aboard, officials said.
The Boeing 737 belonging to
Tatarstan Airlines crashed about
7.20 p.m. local time.
There were no immediate
indications of the cause.
Reports said the plane
appeared to lose altitude as it
was making a second landing
attempt, crashing and catching
Kazan, a city of about 1.1
million and the capital of the
Tatarstan republic, is about 720
kilometres (450 miles) east of
Moscow, where the flight orig-
inated. Weather in Kazan was
reported to be light precipita-
tion and winds of about 8
metres per second (18 mph).
A spokeswoman for the
Emergencies Ministry, Irina
Rossius, said there were 44 pas-
sengers and six crew members
aboard and all had been killed.
Russia has seen a string of
deadly crashes in recent years.
Some have been blamed on the
use of ageing aircraft, but
industry experts point to a
number of other problems,
including poor crew training,
crumbling airports, lax govern-
ment controls and widespread
neglect of safety in the pursuit
The last fatal airliner crash
was in December, when a Russ-
ian-made Tupolev belonging
to Red Wings airline careered
off the runway at Moscow's
Vnukovo airport, rolled across
a snowy field and slammed into
the slope of a nearby highway,
breaking into pieces and catch-
Investigators say equipment
failure caused the crash, which
killed five people.
A 2011 crash in Yaroslavl that
killed 44 people including a
professional hockey team was
blamed on pilot error. And
Russian investigators found that
the pilots in two crashes that
killed ten and 47 people in
recent years were intoxicated.
Boeing plane crashes in
Russia, 50 believed killed ABORTION MARCH
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