Thursday, April 4, 2013

India should abstain from Commonwealth meet: Sinha

CHENNAI, April 4, 2013

Flaying the foreign policy flip-flops of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for letting the Sri Lankan Tamils issue come to such a pass, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said India should abstain from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo in November.

Addressing a meeting to express solidarity with the Tamil cause, organised by the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit, Mr. Sinha said while there could be no Commonwealth without India, the big question was whether the Prime Minister would muster the courage to inform the Commonwealth Secretary General that India would not attend the summit to protest against Sri Lankan atrocities on Tamils, which according to reports, were continuing even four years after the war ended.

Mr. Sinha said India had failed to raise complaints of human rights violations in Sri Lanka with the ministerial action group of CHOGM that could suspend, if not expel, a member country for such transgressions, just as it had failed to address the issue through the U.S.-sponsored resolution in the UNHRC.

According to his view, India should have framed its own resolution instead of playing second fiddle to the United States.

Accusing the Rajapaksa government of making "triumphalism its guiding principle", Mr. Sinha said India should hold Sri Lanka to its commitment to implement the 13th amendment to its Constitution; conduct free and fair elections in the Northern and Eastern Provinces; agree to an independent probe by an external agency on the charges of gross violation of human rights; and extract an unequivocal commitment to punish those guilty of genocide during the war.

According to Mr. Sinha, India, under the UPA, had always been "apologetic" about raising the Tamil cause because of two mistaken beliefs — that a harsh stand on Sri Lanka would open the doors for China in the region and that being vociferous about atrocities on Tamils would raise international clamour on Jammu and Kashmir. Arguing that "friendships are not founded on appeasement but rather on mutual trust", he said that as a result of the Indian government's policy of appeasement, "the Chinese were all over the place". Further, the Sri Lankan issue was at worst an internal strife, while the J&K situation was "external aggression" sponsored by Pakistan and the two were completely different, he said.
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