India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will boycott the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka over alleged human rights abuses by its host.
Mr Singh is expected to write to Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to explain why he will not be attending the summit which will put political pressure on other counties to take a stronger stance against the allegations of war crimes committed in the war the countries national party and the Tamil Tigers during the 25 year conflict.
The absence of the leader of the Commonwealth’s biggest member state may embarrass David Cameron who has defended his attendance in Sri Lanka because it would allow him to personally deliver a a “tough message” about its human rights record.
The Sri Lankan government has conducted a repressive regime that has silenced resistance to the national party but recent reports of deliberate targeting of civilians in the conflict and crimes committed by its armed forces against violent Tamil separatists in the north of the country.
A British parliamentary committee has noted “continuing human rights abuses” in Sri Lanka with the UN also critical over a lack of effort towards over reconciliation between the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority.
Officials at the Indian foreign ministry have downplayed the decision to boycott the summit, which was reportedly taken by senior Congress party officials last Friday. They said it was not unusual for a prime minister to be unable to attend the meeting – however it will send a tough message on India’s Foreign policy against it’s neighbouring country.