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Sri Lanka criticizes Harper’s decision to boycott Commonwealth summit

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a closing press conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka has criticized Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to boycott a Commonwealth summit in the island nation next month over its human rights record.

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Thursday that Harper is “in a lone battle” and had failed to persuade other Commonwealth members to follow suit.

Harper has accused Sri Lanka of failing to uphold the Commonwealth’s core values. He said Monday that Canada remains disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances and allegations of extra-judicial killings.

Canada is the world’s largest home of expatriate Tamils, an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka who complain of widespread discrimination in their native country.

There are 54 members of the Commonwealth, a loose association of former British colonies.

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