'Manmohan Singh boycotting CHOGM has sent a strong message to Sri Lanka': Amnesty

Bangalore, Nov.15 (ANI): Chief Executive of Amnesty International India, G. Ananthapadmanabhan on Friday said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, has sent a strong message to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government, but expressed disappointment over the fact that India has never taken a stand openly against the war crimes committed during the final days of the Sri Lankan civil war.

"The fact that the Manmohan Singh has not gone to Sri Lanka has sent a strong message to Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan Government. However, the fact that the Indian Prime Minister has not stated very clearly and explicitly what his concerns are, and why he did not go, is a little disappointing, because India has been constantly sitting on the fence on this issue," he said.

"They have taken a stand, but never taken a stand openly and clearly enough. But the signal has been quite strongly sent to Rajapaksa and his government that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is unsatisfactory and they need to do something about it," he added.

He further said that there should be an international investigation into the alleged war crimes, which has been committed by both LTTE and the Sri Lankan state, and added that the perpetrators should be brought to justice soon.

"The first thing now is to deliver justice. There should be a credible internationally led investigation into the alleged war crimes at the end of the war. The allegations are both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan state committed war crimes. That should be investigated and the perpetrators should be brought to justice," he said.

He also said that the authoritarian regime in Sri Lanka against the minorities must immediately stop stifling dissent.

"The second step is the increasingly authoritarian regime in Sri Lanka where every kind of dissent is being stifled, where people are disappearing, where there is widespread alleged use of sexual violence against minorities. That has to be brought to a stop," he added.

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 Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was at its zenith under the leadership of Prabhakaran.

As many as 40,000 civilians were killed in the last months of the conflict, as government troops advanced on the last stronghold of the rebels fighting for an independent homeland, a United Nations (UN) panel said in 2011.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is under fire from the UN Human Rights Council, which last year adopted a United States-sponsored resolution demanding that Sri Lanka should ensure that government troops who committed war crimes during the final stages of its war against Tamil rebels are brought to justice. (ANI)