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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2554

Vaiko on day-long fast at the sundial; Rajapakse’s ode to HR

By M Rama Rao - Reporting from India

New Delhi, 27 November (Asiantribune.com): MDMK chief Vaiko has brought his anti-Rajapakse, pro – LTTE campaign to Indian capital’s landmark sundial Jantar Mantar. He and his supporters sat on a day-long fast to protest against the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is away in Dehradun attending some local functions. The Rajapakse engagements here officially start from Tuesday.

Besides Vaiko, his party’s Law makers, S Ganesh and N Ramachandran joined the MDMK leaders in the hunger strike. They have a single-point demand: No defence aid to Lanka.

Vaiko is targetting in particular the proposal President Rajapakse has mooted for joint patrolling of Pak Straits to check arms smuggling by LTTE and to ensure fishermen don’t fall victims of cross fire between LTTE and Lankan navy. The Lankan leader repeated his proposal at Dehradun, two days after he raised it for the first time during an informal chat with reporters on the eve of his departure for India.

Vaiko has shot off a missive to the Manmohan Singh government, which counts on his support, asking the foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee to reject the Rajapakse call. "The Sri Lankan President is cunningly trying to make a trap to get India's naval assistance for their military offensive (against the LTTE). India should totally reject such a proposal," the MDMK leader, who never hides his pro-LTTE leanings, said.

His memorandum in fact picks up the LTTE refrain for an immediate r-opening of the closed A9 high way to Jaffna. Vaiko told Mukherjee that India should prevail on the Colombo to get the economic blockade of Jaffna lifted and military attacks stopped.

Rajapakse spending his second day in Dehradun after inaugurating the Asian Mayors Conference interacted with the leaders of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra (RLEK). He laid the foundation of the Indo-Sri Lanka Human Rights Centre for the South Asian Countries, which is being set up at the RLEK campus. 20 Sri Lankans are getting training at RLEK on human rights issues.

This was the Lankan President’s second visit to the RLEK, which was established in 1991 to work for empowerment of rural poor through wide-ranging community initiatives. He was at the Kendra to attend a human rights conference in 1999.

Rajapakse touched upon HR issues plaguing his own country and spoke about the HR violations by LTTE of Lankan people in general and ethnic Tamils in particular. Tamils in general while reiterating his government resolves to find solutions to the problems bedevilling the island nation through negotiations and by upholding human rights and democratic values of 'all our citizen' "Sri Lankan government has always offered to negotiate across the table and craft a solution that respects human rights and democratic values," President Rajapakse said, adding, "We remain deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights of all our citizens."

Rajapakse also spoke of his plans for empowerment of people and said his government was studying the Indian Panchayati Raj system.

- Asian Tribune -

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