Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam has said that India will be isolated if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh doesn't attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Kariyawasam said, "If PM Singh doesn't go, we have to think about who it will affect. Who will be isolated? Every other country barring Canada is attending. So those who don't attend will be in isolation."
This came as the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution asking the Prime Minister not to attend the meet in Sri Lanka. Following is the transcript of the interview with Prasad Kariyawasam:
CNN-IBN: To begin with high commissioner, it is not just calls from civil society itself but the Tamil Nadu assembly as well talking about a resolution to stop the Prime Minister from going to Sri Lanka the resolution calling for a boycott of the CHOGM itself. How do you respond to that?
Prasad Kariyawasam: Sri Lanka takes our international responsibilities very seriously and the Commonwealth government unanimously had agreed that we host the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo and Commonwealth summit is being held in Asia after 30 years, it's a very important occasion of Asia. The Prime Minister of India is not only a leader in this region but leader in Asia, leader in Commonwealth and even in fact the world, so bearing that in mind we, our External Affairs Minister came personally to invite the Prime Minister and we did that. We didn't go to each and every country, so it is a decision that India will have to take bearing in mind the national responsibilities, their profile and their importance of the multinational meeting. It is not a bilateral meeting where India should be present at the highest level, so it's a decision by the Indian government and we leave it to them.
CNN-IBN: It isn't just the Canadian PM who has said that Canada will boycott the CHOGM, the queen for the first time in 40 years will not be attending this particular Commonwealth for whatever reason. Other international groups including Amnesty International have asked to boycott it. Aren't you worried that on India's decision hinges a lot of other countries' decisions? Sri Lanka could be isolated.
Prasad Kariyawasam: Except the Canadian Prime Minister who had publically said that he is not coming, that is obviously due to the Tamil nationalist lobby in Canada, all the other heads of government are there. It's going to be a highly well represented event. So it's a very important occasion. India I think should be present and should profile itself as a world leader. This should not be based on bilateral issues.
First of all, Queen is not coming because of very different reasons and it has been very clearly clarified by the British government and Prince of Wales is representing the Queen. So there is no boycott by the Queen and that's very clear. The second thing is that human rights lobby groups have been campaigning against Sri Lanka for long years at the behest of Tamil separatist lobbies who are upset with Sri Lanka for defeating LTTE resoundingly. Human rights violation takes place in every country in the world. We have our share of it and we are making efforts to correct them. All the governments in the Commonwealth had decided unanimously that the Commonwealth Summit will be held in Sri Lanka, so there is no boycott. Isolation will happen to those who do not participate, not the other way round.
CNN-IBN: You're saying that, yet you are admitting there have been human rights violations. Why is it that the world still believes that Sri Lanka won the war against the LTTE, yet is still not winning the peace? It hasn't addressed the human rights concerns that continued all these years?
Prasad Kariyawasam: We are looking at those concerns. We have our internal inquiry for that. The issue is that these are propaganda done by groups, some in western countries, some in Tamil Nadu who are upset that LTTE is no more and this campaign will continue.
CNN-IBN: But why not address the human rights concerns. There was a shock in India over the photos of Prabhakaran's son.
Prasad Kariyawasam: No that's not true. We are only saying those who come up with some allegations on Sri Lanka continue to do so and they are LTTE supporters. I just said that Sri Lanka has Human Rights issues to address and we are keen to address them. We are like any other country in the world. Human rights violations are there every where. We make efforts to correct ourselves and we have domestic mechanisms for that. We get international support, but we are against international inquiry into our situations. We can do our own internal investigations. We are a democracy, we have our own institutions and we do the right things."
CNN-IBN: How big a blow will it be if PM doesn't come?
Prasad Kariyawasam: If the Prime Minister of India does not come for this important meeting, consequences for whom is the question that one has to think of.
CNN-IBN: Sri Lanka won't be affected?
Prasad Kariyawasam: I would say that those who would be affected would be many. Sri Lanka would be hosting the conference and we are happy at the level of participation that we have and it will be those who do not participate, who will be isolated and not those who are participating.
CNN-IBN: Have you got any kind of indication from the Indian government that the Indian PM will attend?
Prasad Kariyawasam: It's a decision by the Indian government and it's a decision that we respect India and it's our good friend. Our expectation is that the Indian government will take the right decision at the right time.