As the members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group [CMAG] meeting in London scheduled to be held on April 26 draws close, the CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] boycott call has increased, with DMK chief M. Karunanidhi sending his emissaries to meet the CMAG envoys to demand shifting of the CHOGM venue out of Sri Lanka, Indian media reported. Meanwhile, Canada’s Liberal party leader, Bob Rae, urged Commonwealth states to boycott the meeting if held in Colombo, and said “[t]he Commonwealth is too important to allow its business to be disrupted by a single rogue member’s violation of the association’s beliefs and values.”
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha urged Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to skip the summit. Addressing a hall meeting on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue in Chennai last week, Sinha said India was the pivot of the Commonwealth body. “If India does not go there, CHOGM cannot be held,” the Sunday Leader quoted Sinha as saying.
Bob Rae in a statement released last week said, “[t]he situation on the ground in Sri Lanka is showing no signs of improvement, and the Rajapaksa regime’s disrespect for human rights and democracy continues unabated. No serious effort has been made by that government to reconcile with all actors in Sri Lankan society.
“There is neither truth nor reconciliation after the end of the civil war. Ethnic and religious discrimination is growing, not decreasing. Attacks on journalists and opposition politicians are getting worse and more lethal. The abuse of the rule of law is increasing; the impeachment of the country’s Supreme Court Chief Justice was a deep abuse of power,” Rae added.
The DMK, which walked out of the UPA coalition over the Lankan Tamils issue last month, had also demanded that India boycott the meeting in case it was held in the island republic, The Hindu said.
Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu are the current members of the CMAG.
While Sri Lanka-CHOGM issue was rumored to be not included in the meeting agenda of the forthcoming CMAG, the Sunday Leader reported that “attempts are being made to discuss Sri Lanka outside the main agenda,” and that “a last minute push was underway with parties urging their governments to make that move [shifting of the meeting venue from Colombo] ahead of the (CMAG) meeting.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already issued a warning that he may boycott, and the Queen will also likely not attend.
“Any high level participation or engagement from the Indian side in the CHOGM will not only embolden the Lankan regime but also incense public opinion and sentiment in Tamil Nadu on this very sensitive issue even furthe,” Tamil Naadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to boycott the Colombo meeting.
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