Row over inviting Lankan President Rajapaksa for CWG closing

October 13th, 2010 - 12:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct 13 (ANI): Activists have opposed India’s decision to invite Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the guest of honour at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Rajapaksa accepted a “joint” invitation from the Indian government and the event organisers, and would be flying to India on Wednesday

The Lankan government confirmed that Rajapaksa would be the guest of honour at Thursday’s event.

The move has angered rights groups and the Tamil diaspora who have accused Rajapaksa of failing to protect many thousands of civilians who died in battles in the long civil war against Tamil separatists last year.

The Commonwealth Secretariat said that the decision to invite Rajapaksa to be chief guest was made by India.

Yolanda Foster of Amnesty International told BBC News that “impunity remains the order of the day” in Sri Lanka despite repeated promises to deliver on accountability.

“Commonwealth countries including India should be at the forefront of supporting an international inquiry into the allegations of violations of international law during the conflict,” she said.

The Tamil Diaspora would like to see Commonwealth members exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government, as they say Britain did in the cases of Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Hundreds of Tamils say relatives are still missing, more than a year after the war ended.

“The then Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) conference in the UK that just because a country has general elections does not necessarily mean that it is following democratic principles,” Suren Surendiran, of the GTF, told BBC News.

Sri Lanka is competing with Australia to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Rajapaksa’s hometown, Hambantota. (ANI)

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