Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only to ask for shifting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Colombo this November but also boycott the meet and the leaders' retreat.
Her arch-rival DMK, which quit the central government last week over the Sri Lankan issue, has also made a similar demand at its executive council meeting held in Chennai.
In a letter to Manmohan Singh, the text of which was released to the media, Jayalalithaa said: "There is still time to consider even an alternative venue to hold the event.
"India should use this opportunity to ask that the venue for the CHOGM be shifted to another country. If India takes this diplomatic initiative there is likely to be broad based support amongst member countries of the Commonwealth."
Stressing that any high level participation or engagement from the Indian side in the CHOGM will not only embolden the Sri Lankan regime but also incense public opinion and sentiment in Tamil Nadu, she urged the prime minister not to attend the meet and the Leaders' Retreat proposed to be held in Colombo from Nov 15 to 17.
Jayalalithaa said that as an emerging great power and an aspirant for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, India has a duty to ensure that the values of democracy and respect for human rights are upheld anywhere in the world and in particular in its neighbourhood.
"As a leader in South Asia, India is uniquely positioned to exert the maximum influence on the Sri Lankans to accept an independent international mechanism to hold those who committed genocide and war crimes to account," she said.
Jayalalithaa said the proposed CHOGM is another opportune occasion for India to mount pressure on Sri Lanka to ensure that "accountability is established under an international framework for the war crimes and genocide committed in the closing stages of the civil war (against the Tamil Tigers in 2009) and the ongoing gross human rights abuses".
Jayalalithaa said many important countries across the world, including two G-8 nations propose to leverage the conference and make substantial progress in human rights issues in the island nation.
She referred to the reports of Canada indicating its likely decision to boycott the CHOGM in Colombo and the House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs in Britain urging the prime minister to boycott the conference.
The DMK at its executive council meeting resolved that holding CHOGM in Sri Lanka is not acceptable and appropriate and requested the organisers to change the venue. According to the resolution, if the conference is held in Sri Lanka, India should mind the sentiments of Tamils world over and boycott it.
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