New Delhi / Chennai, November 6: We are disturbed that the Indian position regarding participation in the CHOGM in Colombo November 15-17,2013 is still quite unclear. There has been a strong demand to boycott the conference because of the rampant human rights violations in the last phase of the civil war and since then, continuation of army occupation, land alienation and continuous rape in the Tamil homelands. The Indian finance minister, Mr. Chidambaram, (who as home minister had a strong desire to bombard adivasi villages in Bastar) has been advocating participation for “international considerations” like good neighbourly relationships and competition regarding spheres of influence between China and India. He even played the card that the conflicts of Indian fishermen harassed by the Sri Lankan army, could only be resolved by dialogue. Such dialogue need to be brought about between the respective fishing communities in the first place and this is desirable, but it does not require participation in the CHOGM to fructify.
The consideration that if Mr. Vigneshwaran, the new Chief Minister of Jaffna, belonging to the TNA, can attend the opening function, why not the Indian Prime Minister, holds no water. Mr. Vigneshwaran has taken the plunge into electoral politics for the very same reasons, which are at the heart of the demands of the people who want the boycott of the CHOGM.
We all want :
Withdrawal of the army from the Tamil homelands
Return of the lands to the Tamil owners and safeguarding of livelihoods
An end to displacement, ethnic cleansing and rapes
An end to suppression of public opinion and disappearances
An independent investigation in to the rights violations by the State and non-State actors during the last period of war.
In other words, we want an end to violence and instead, implementation of democracy. Elevating Mr. Rajapakshe to a pivotal position in the Commonwealth would be highly counterproductive to democracy in south Asia as a whole. Mr. Rajapakshe must be put on trial by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
NAPM after a national meeting in July launched a campaign tour across Six states on this issue from October 15-22, 2013 and held meetings, press conferences at Chennai, Puducherry, Cochin, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai with the support of people’s movements and organisations.
We encourage all democratic forces to join our appeal and urge the Prime Minister to not attend the CHOGM in order to strengthen democracy in South Asia and use our diplomatic ties to restore rights and dignity of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Medha Patkar, Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Sister Celia, Prafulla Samantara, C R Neelakandan, Ramakrishnan Raju, K Balakrishnan, Sudandiran, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M