John Key yesterday left for a trip to Australia and Sri Lanka. The trip has been billed as a chance “to highlight the growing commercial and political ties” with Sri Lanka.
The Green Party today said that John Key should use his trip to Australia and Sri Lanka as an opportunity to restore New Zealand’s strong reputation of promoting human rights and standing up for our unique values.
“The Prime Minister has shown how prepared he is to ignore New Zealanders’ concerns about human rights abuses in countries like Saudi Arabia. It is almost as if the National Government is seeking out some of the worst regimes to do deals with,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“The Prime Minister’s trips to Australia and Sri Lanka could be an opportunity to reassert New Zealand’s strong position on human rights, in the tradition of previous Prime Minsters like David Lange.
“If David Lange had refused to stand up to the United States in the 1980s, New Zealand might not be a nuclear-free country today. Sri Lanka, although no longer in a civil war, has yet to commit to an independent and just post-war reconciliation process. In fact, Sri Lanka continues to face accusations of torturing prisoners who were imprisoned prior to the end of the civil war in 2009.
“The Prime Minister should use the opportunity to press Sri Lanka to honour the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution it co-sponsored, agreeing to allow independent foreign judges to be part of the reconciliation process.
“It’s time for the Prime Minister to continue that tradition of standing up for Kiwi values, regardless of how inconvenient or uncomfortable it might be for him. If he is not prepared to promote New Zealand’s human rights values with Sri Lanka, he shouldn’t be endorsing Sri Lanka’s human rights failures by promoting more trade.
“New Zealanders want a foreign policy that is based on our values and what is right. That includes our leaders fighting for the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia, speaking out for innocent refugees imprisoned in detention camps and not cosying up to a Sri Lankan regime that has been accused of war crimes,” Shaw said. (Colombo Gazette)