This year, Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her diamond jubilee, to mark sixty years as monarch and head of the commonwealth. The celebrations will be long, grand, and varied, and one of the flagship events will be a private luncheon in London on the 6th of June with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary ... and a war criminal.
The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a man against whom the UN have found credible allegations of responsibility for the murder of 40,000 civilians, and who leads a government that oversaw the disappearance of 32 people this March alone, will join the Queen and other heads of state at the taxpayer-funded meal.
This is no way to celebrate a jubilee.
The Government of Sri Lanka were rightly taken to task by the UN Human Rights Council, both for their failure to address accountability for past crimes, and their continued use of torture and oppression. They responded in typically belligerent fashion by redoubling their attacks on independent journalists and human rights defenders. It is therefore absolutely vital that at this key moment the international community keep the pressure on. This is not the moment to treat the President of Sri Lanka to pomp and pageantry -- nor should the Queen be forced to spend her jubilee posing for photos with a man who should be indicted for mass murder.
You can help make sure this doesn't happen.
The British Royal Family has recently introduced ways for you to give them your opinions. We can and should use these channels to tell them that the Queen should be celebrating her jubilee in the company of war criminals. On your right you will see links to the mechanisms that the Royal Household has set up to send a message to the Queen -- please use it to register your disgust at President Mahinda's presence.
The Royal Household is very sensitive to negative publicity around the jubilee. There is a good chance that this will be successful but, even if he does come, it is important that we register our strong objection. At least President Mahinda will not be able to portray his visit as a public relations triumph. The jubilee should not be about torture and mass murder. Please send the Queen that message today.