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Canadian, Indian Pm's Show Support For Tamil Human Rights


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The Indian and Canadian PM's are not going to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Summit in support of Tamil human rights. The British and Australian PM's have asked for an independent enquiry into the killings. Can the Sikhs learn from the Tamils and get support now that human rights are of interest to countries?

Manmohan Singh has no concern for the Sikhs but takes major action for the Tamils.


Summit fever: The Commonwealth should not be conferring legitimacy on a Sri Lankan regime with blood on its hands

The question marks over Sri Lankas human rights record are not confined to the war-torn past

The Indian Prime Ministers last-minute decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo this weekend is largely due to domestic politics. With an election next year, Manmohan Singh does not want to upset Indias 72 million Tamils, many of whom are highly sensitive about the treatment of their ethnic cousins in Sri Lankas bloody civil war.

Mr Singhs narrow political motivations do not detract from the issue itself, however. Indeed, he is now the second leader to boycott the summit. Canadas Stephen Harper is so incensed at the Colombo governments continued refusal to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict that he is not only not attending himself, his government is also reviewing its financial contributions to the Commonwealth.

There are very real and painful questions to be answered about the civil war. According to UN estimates, as many as 40,000 civilians may have died in the final months of the conflict, in 2009, as the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa finally quashed the 26-year Tamil insurgency. A harrowing Channel 4 documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka screened earlier this month, was just the latest evidence of alleged war crimes.

The question marks over Sri Lankas human rights record are not confined to the war-torn past. Disturbing reports of repression and abuse have continued to emerge ever since. Harassment, intimidation and unexplained disappearances among political opponents, journalists, activists and even members of the judiciary are alarmingly frequent. Police torture is also rampant, says Amnesty International, with 86 formal complaints in the first three months of this year alone, and at least five deaths in custody in 2012.

Nor are such issues hidden from world attention. No less a figure than Archbishop Desmond Tutu has spoken several times about the need for an official investigation into alleged atrocities committed during the war. And in August this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ended a seven-day visit to the island with an outspoken warning. The war may have ended, Navi Pillay concluded, but in the meantime democracy has been undermined and the rule of law eroded.

Against such a background, the choice of Colombo as the venue for the Heads of Government meeting conferring an unearned legitimacy on Mr Rajapaksas government was grossly ill-judged. That David Cameron agreed to attend is also regrettable. The claims of human rights abuses, past and present, are too serious to be waved aside; Britain should have joined Canada in taking a principled stand.

But with the summit going ahead, and our Prime Minister to be there, the best must be made of it. Following the Channel 4 footage, Mr Cameron has promised to tell the President that if Sri Lanka does not launch an independent investigation into alleged war crimes then the international community will. That is not enough. What of the worsening repression? If even half the allegations against Sri Lanka are true, it is a stain on the conscience of the Commonwealth. The Colombo meeting must be used to impress upon Mr Rajapaksa that his governments conduct is not acceptable.

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Sikh radicals seek Cameron's support for UN probe into anti-Sikh riots
Yudhvir Rana, TNN Nov 11, 2013, 03.34PM IST

AMRITSAR: Sikh radical organization Dal Khalsa has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron for his government's support to the organization which is attempting to get a UN probe into the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Founded by Gajinder Singh, one of 20 fugitives demanded by India from Pakistan post terror attack on Parliament House, Dal Khalsa's political secretary Kanwarpal Singh said on Monday that he had sent a letter to Cameron urging him to intervene in the issue of 1984 anti-Sikh riots as his country was a permanent member of the UN Security Council .


He said the party had also expressed its discontent on Cameron's participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meet in Colombo. The party has written to Cameron "While your Canadian counterpart Mr Stephen Harper has chosen to boycott CHOGM on account of the 'human rights violations and extra-judicial killings', it is highly improper for you to participate in the event and provide legitimacy to the present day rulers of Sri Lanka ".

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The GOI of India especially the ruling Congress party need to look into their backyard before condemning Sri Lanka of human rights violations. Its a political stunt designed to garner tamil votes in the upcoming election and is not being done because they have interest in the Tamil human rights issue per se.

This double game is hypocritcal.

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It was not the "Tamils" that killed Rajiv but the LTTE - under orders from Prabhkaran himself who had a personal beef with Rajiv because of the actions of the IPKF which committed rape, murder and looting in Sri Lanka and then got busted by the LTTE and took massive casualties.

The petition should be accepted by the UNO in the upcoming year. There is no mention (that I know of) of the rumours being purposely started by the GOI to instigate the mobs - ex : sikhs have poisoned the water supply, thousands of dead hindus are coming on trains from punjab.

A little known story is that the same year the Bhopal Gas Disaster happened killing thousands and the GOI tried to blame the sikhs for this as well by putting up posters in punjab and elsewhere allegedly from a sikh group calling itself "Black June" - they were looking for another opportunity to kill sikhs. Sikhs working at the disaster site were rounded up, interrogatted etc..

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It was not the "Tamils" that killed Rajiv but the LTTE - under orders from Prabhkaran himself who had a personal beef with Rajiv because of the actions of the IPKF which committed rape, murder and looting in Sri Lanka and then got busted by the LTTE and took massive casualties.

Again, another difference between Sikhs and Tamils is that while Sikhs mostly celebrated the killing of Indira, Tamils denounced Rajiv's assassination and support for LTTE went downhill from there on. Rumor also had it back then that a number of Indian army troops who actually raped the Sri Lankan women were Sikhs.
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The main point of this story is not what the Indians are doing , but what the West are doing in support of the Tamils. For ages Sikhs have been called terrorists by the media in Canda but here you have the Candian PM supporting the Tamils strongly. How did the Tamils achive that when they are linked with the LTTE? The British PM says after seeing a Channel 4 documentary that there should be an international enquiry and the Tamils already have UN support. They did this in a few years after the fall of LTTE. What it shows is that intelligent campaigning can achieve results and this gives an answer to those that says that western countries are not interested in human rights for Asians. Time for the Sikhs to learn from the Tamils

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Here are their true colors. After all, how could one oppressive regime point fingers at another!

Manmohan Singh's letter to me does not address Tamil issue: President Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka on Thursday said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's letter to him has not addressed the issue of alleged human rights violations against Sri Lankan Tamils.

Speaking a day before the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) here, President Rajapaksa said: "The letter that PM (Manmohan Singh) had sent me, doesn't address the Tamil's issue."

The Sri Lankan Government has of late been criticised by several countries over its human rights record, and for allegedly committing war crimes against the country's minority Tamil population, especially at a time when the rebel Liberation Tiggers for Tamil Ealam (LTTE) was at its zenith under the leadership of Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

It maybe recalled that on Sunday, Prime Minister Singh had written a letter to President Rajapaksa informing him of his inability to attend this year's CHOGM in Colombo.

"The Prime Minister's letter (to President Rajapaksa) was delivered by the High Commission of India in Colombo. The Prime Minister informs that he is unable to attend personally," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had said then.

President Rajapaksa said that he was satisfied that India was being represented at the CHOGM by its External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

"The Foreign Minister of India is here, and I am satisfied," he said.

On Tuesday, Khurshid had asserted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's absence at the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo does not foreclose India's legitimate position in multi-lateral fora.

He also said that it is a two-way investment between Sri Lanka and India.

"The Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh will accompany me. The fact that the Prime Minister is not going does not foreclose any legitimate position that we would take in the multi lateral fora," Khurshid said, while addressing media after the conclusion of the two-day ASEM meet in Gurgaon, Haryana.

"There is a two-way investment between Sri Lanka and India, and tourists between the two countries. It cannot be held hostage to something in which we believe we have a lot more work to do in terms of the expectations of the Indo-Sri Lanka code," he added.

Khurshid also said that Prime Minister's decision to skip CHOGM had been taken after factoring in a lot of issues.

"The Prime Minister has taken a considerate call; he factored in a lot of issues, including the importance of his presence in the country at this time. We are after all facing five elections," Khurshid said.

"There was also a very strong sentiment expressed by our colleagues in parliament from Tamil Nadu. Everything must have been factored in, and after that a decision was taken," he added.

On Wednesday, Khurshid, while heading towards Colombo for the CHOGM, said people looking forward to a desirable outcome with Sri Lanka on the fishermen issue, are now demanding that New Delhi skip the summit.

Reacting to a resolution passed unanimously by the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, Khurshid said: "I haven't seen anything about the assembly resolution. I have heard about it. I find it curious, because last night, I had a large delegation of important Tamil Nadu politicians, and concerned people who have asked to get the Sri Lankan Government not only to release fishermen, but also release their boats. These are important livelihood matters."

"They also urged that I should persuade Sri Lanka to move forward on a date for having the fishermen representation of the two sides to meet in Sri Lanka or India as early as possible. I find it curious that people who do not want us to go and (want us to) boycott the meet, are also saying to us to arrange something for a desirable outcome while we are there," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu Assembly in its special meeting adopted a resolution to stop India"s participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Colombo.

The resolution reiterated that India should totally boycott the Commonwealth Heads Summit which is to be held from November 13 to 17 and also the External Affairs Ministers" meeting. The resolution also emphasised that indirectly it meant that Sri Lanka had the support for indulging in acts of violence against the Tamils. It also said the assembly had urged the Centre to take steps to get Sri Lanka suspended from Commonwealth till it took action to ensure that Sri Lankan Tamils were given equal rights on par with Sinhalese and were able to live independently.

"But in total contradiction to these demands, the Centre has announced that an Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister would attend the CHOGM. The assembly expresses its deep regret to this," the resolution read.

Meanwhile, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampathan, said that there was no need for him to react to Prime Minister Singh's decision to skip CHOGM, as it was a matter that only he could decide upon.

However, Sampathan said that he was of the view that India had played a significant role in creating the situation that has existed in Sri Lanka since 1983, but added that New Delhi has also contributed significantly to ensuring that the people of Sri Lanka live their lives with respect and dignity.

"We are extremely unhappy with the current situation. We have discussed the entire issue. India has played a role in regard to the situation in Sri Lanka from 1983. In the recent years, India has been very active in regard to ensure that the people of the country are able to live with respect and dignity, but still much needs to be done," Sampathan said.

Sampathan further said that he was extremely disappointed with Sri Lankan Government's efforts in trying to ensure meaningful progress with regard to issue concerning the country's Tamil population.

"I am exremely disappointed that the government has not demonstrated any commitment to achieve any meaningful progress with regard to the military resolution, accountability, reservation for Tamilians in institution, independence of judiciary, or with regard to the evolution of an acceptable political solution," he said.

Earlier this week in India, demonstrators blocked trains in Tamil Nadu, and particularly in state capital Chennai, in protest against the CHOGM Summit, even after it was announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would skip the meet to be held in Colombo.

Many political parties and some ministers within the ruling Congress party were advocating a total boycott of the event over alleged war atrocities of the Sri Lankan Army in its war against the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankan government, which defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, is under increasing pressure from the international community to try those responsible for rights abuses during the nearly three-decade-long conflict.


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Tamils have achieved major coverage of human rights violations against the. The Canadian and British PM's have taken serious action by boycotting the Commonwealth meeting or calling for international enquiries into human rights violations. Time for Sikhs to follow a similar strategy.


David Cameron has promised to send a "tough message" to Sri Lanka's government over alleged war crimes after it warned him not to question ministers at the Commonwealth summit.

The UK prime minister, who has rejected calls to boycott the meeting in Colombo, said there had to be "proper inquiries" into events in 2009.

But Sri Lanka's government said he had no right to bring up the subject, as he had not been invited on that basis.

The conference begins on Friday.

The Prince of Wales, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Thursday, is representing the Queen at the biennial event.

Mr Cameron's attendance follows trade talks in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, who is among those avoiding the event.


Mr Singh is joined by the prime ministers of Canada and Mauritius, who are staying away in protest over allegations that the regime of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaska carried out war crimes at the end of a civil war with Tamil separatists four years ago.

The UN estimates that 40,000 civilians were killed in the last five months of the 26-year conflict, but the Sri Lankan authorities deny responsibility.

In an interview with the BBC's Nick Robinson, Mr Cameron said: "There are legitimate accusations of war crimes that need to be properly investigated.

"That is actually what the Sri Lankan government, in its own lessons learned and reconciliation exercise, found - there were more questions to be answered. But it hasn't effectively answered them. They need to be answered.

"We should be clear, this was an appalling civil war, a civil war in which obviously the Tamil Tigers, using suicide bombs and child soldiers, did some appalling things as well.

"But the end of the war, and this particular set of events where civilians seem to have been targeted - that needs to be properly investigated."

'Independent state'

Tamil representatives and Labour, the British opposition party, urged Mr Cameron to join the boycott, but he argued he could achieve more by using his attendance to "shine a spotlight" on "some of the human rights issues".

But the Sri Lankans reacted angrily to that suggestion.

Continue reading the main story Start Quote

When I interviewed Mr Cameron on a trip to Calcutta, he attempted to draw a distinction between choosing not to leave an empty chair at the Commonwealth summit and making a bilateral visit to Sri Lanka. He claims his visit will shine a spotlight on Sri Lanka”

End Quote

_53409465_robinson-112x81.jpg Nick Robinson Political editor

"The invitation to Prime Minister David Cameron was not based on that," minister of mass media and communications Keheliya Rambukwella told the BBC.

"We are a sovereign nation. You think someone can just make a demand from Sri Lanka?

"We are not a colony. We are an independent state."

Asked about the comments, Mr Cameron maintained he was right to raise questions, adding: "That's exactly what I'll be doing."

Although he said he wanted to deliver a "tough message" to the Sri Lankan government, he pledged not to be "completely uncompromising".

Mr Cameron explained: "There are some positive steps that have been taken in Sri Lanka: the fact that they had elections to a northern provincial council; the fact that there is a process of reconciliation, it's just not going as far as we would like it to go.

"So on the ledger, there are some things on the positive side, but there are too many things on the negative side. Now that's a frank conversation I think we should be able to have."

British media in Sri Lanka who have been asking questions about the government's human rights record have struggled to get answers.

A Channel 4 documentary team was forced to give up on reaching the north of the south Asian state after being stopped by pro-government demonstrators.

'Deep concerns'

A BBC cameraman was physically restrained by security officials at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as he and correspondent James Robbins were attempting to film Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a media event before the formal opening.


The BBC's James Robbins says the PM's determination to put human rights in the spotlight will be tested

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "My party has been clear that in our view we believe that this lamentable human rights situation meant that the British prime minister - like the Canadian and Indian prime ministers - should not attend the summit."

But Mr Cameron, having decided to attend, must now "insist on the full implementation of the recommendations of Sri Lanka's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission", Mr Miliband argued, in an article for the Tamil Guardian.

He also urged the UK prime minister to "seek urgent assurances from the Sri Lankan authorities" that they will respect the Commonwealth's values on human rights as they respond to any protests that may take place during the forthcoming summit.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander was blunter, telling the BBC: "The prime minister has blundered, and blundered badly, in his decision to attend the summit."

Mr Cameron, who arrived in Delhi on Wednesday en route to the summit, has met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The UK PM has hailed "extraordinary progress" on trade and investment since his first visit in 2010, and pledged to "cement Britain as India's partner of choice".

He is also seeking to reassure Indian nationals about his drive to cut immigration to the UK.

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Sri Lanka: Cameron in 'robust' talks over human rights


The BBC's Nick Robinson was with the prime minister as his convoy was mobbed

David Cameron has clashed with the president of Sri Lanka as he pushed for action to protect the rights of its minority Tamil community.

Downing Street said the PM "pressed his points very directly and robustly" in an hour-long meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa at a Commonwealth summit.

Mr Cameron's convoy was earlier mobbed by demonstrators on a visit to the north of the country.

Mr Rajapaksa says he has brought peace and stability to Sri Lanka.

The Tamils' treatment at the end of the country's civil war in 2009 has dominated the run-up to the the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), taking place in the capital Colombo.

Mr Cameron has insisted there should be a proper investigation into alleged Sri Lankan war crimes in the final months of the conflict, saying a process of "truth-telling" was essential for reconciliation.

In a historic move, Mr Cameron travelled to the Tamil-dominated north of the country - the first international leader to do so since Sri Lankan independence in 1948 - before holding face-to-face talks with the country's president.

At one point, the PM's convoy was surrounded by more than 200 protesters holding pictures of loved ones who they claim were killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces or have disappeared.

Mr Cameron said the visit - in which he also toured a temporary refugee camp and newspaper office whose printing presses have been burnt - had "drawn attention to the plight" of the Tamil minority in the country.

Continue reading the main story
_53409465_robinson-112x81.jpg Analysis Nick Robinson Political editor, with the prime minister in Sri Lanka

As Mr Cameron's entourage was leaving the public library, a group of screaming women - desperate to make their representations directly to the first world leader to come here - pressed photographs and petitions into our hands

He said the first-hand accounts he had heard of journalists who have been attacked and of a young woman who had grown up in a refugee camp would "stay with him" for a long time.

Mr Cameron said staging the summit in Sri Lanka had already resulted in positive changes, but the authorities needed to do much more to show they respected human and political rights.

"The fact is about this country that there is a chance of success because the war is over, the terrorism has finished, the fighting is done," he said.

"Now what's needed is generosity and magnanimity from the Sri Lankan government to bring the country together.

"And I think coming here, listening to these people, hearing these arguments, helps to draw attention to their plight. I think the spotlight has been shone on Sri Lanka and people can see the good and the bad."


The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson, who is travelling with Mr Cameron, said several protestors had been thrown to the floor by police as they tried to approach the prime minister's vehicle with photographs of relatives "disappeared" in the civil war and petitions.

He stressed that the demonstration had not been violent, but the prime minister had been made "fully aware of their grievances and their grief".

_71140799_71136193.jpgDavid Cameron has said the accounts of loss and hardship he heard on his visit to the north of the country will stay with him for a long time
_71143854_020004003-1.jpgTamil women approach the media bus travelling with David Cameron in Jaffna

The UK prime minister has defied calls for him to boycott the Commonwealth summit in protest against alleged human rights abuses.

Continue reading the main story Ponniah Manikavasagam, BBC Tamil, Jaffna

There was heavy security around the Palaly air base near Jaffna when the aircraft carrying the British delegation landed.

David Cameron first went to the famous Jaffna library to meet the main Tamil political party leaders.

Hundreds of relatives of those who went missing in the government's war against the Tamil Tiger rebels held a protest rally to attract his attention.

Some of them had tied black ribbons over their mouths and some were holding photos of their missing relatives.

They were all shouting slogans demanding international investigation into alleged war crimes.

When the British delegation was leaving the building, protesters surged forward to get their attention pushing photographs of their missing loved ones and petitions towards the convoy.

Police pushed them back; some of the protesting women fell to the ground. Pro-government supporters also held a protest rally outside the library.

Mr Cameron has also visited the leading Tamil Daily Uthayan's office, which was torched and several of its reporters killed during the war.

Many Tamils in Jaffna have broadly welcomed the visit of Mr Cameron saying it has helped to highlight their issues to the outside world.

President Rajapaksa rejects accusations of rape, executions and indiscriminate shelling, saying the end of the war had brought peace, stability and the chance of greater prosperity to the country.

But campaigners have said an international investigation is needed into the bloody conclusion to the civil war, in which UN estimates some 40,000 people were killed.

"The Sri Lankans have got their own domestic process, but frankly it's fatally flawed and it's not going to deliver any real justice to the people who were killed," David Mepham, UK director of campaign group Human Rights Watch, said.

"The other thing, which is equally important, is that there needs to be real pressure on the ongoing human rights issues. This isn't just a problem of the past."

The prime ministers of Canada, India and Mauritius are staying away from the summit in protest over the allegations.

Gordon Campbell, the Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, told the BBC that Sri Lanka had "turned its back on the very principles that the Commonwealth espouses".

_71143857_020003793-1.jpgThe PM met chief minister of Northern province, C. V. Vigneswaran (right) and Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan

The Labour Party said Mr Cameron's presence was a "reward" for the Sri Lanka president.

"There was a naivety about the British government's approach to this summit," shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said.

"The scale of the suffering has not been challenged in the way it should have been in past months."

The prime minister has dismissed Labour's call for a boycott as "rank hypocrisy", pointing out it was his predecessor Gordon Brown who originally agreed the summit venue in 2009.

The Prince of Wales, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Thursday, is representing the Queen at the biennial event which he opened earlier.

Prince Charles told the summit: "Each one of us is here because of the hope and trust we place in the Commonwealth to bring that 'touch of healing' to our troubles and deliver the very best future for our people."

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