Mumbai: India must boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, next month, say human rights activists who are opposing Sri Lankan president Mahendra Rajapakse being depicted as the hero in the ‘War on Terror.’

Spearheading a campaign to mobilise public opinion across the country is the charismatic German-born Indian, Dr Gabriele Dietrich, Professor Emeritus from the Centre of Social Analysis, Madurai, and a member of the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM). Admitting that it is difficult to create interest in the Sri Lankan situation in India even though Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha has raised this issue time and again, she said, the extent of violence, bloodshed and displacement is often not fully understood in other Indian states.

It has to be realised that if the meeting is allowed to take place, “it would be a disaster for Sri Lanka, especially for the Tamils living there, and equally for India and South Asia,” said Dietrich at a press conference today. It would legitimise all that happened in Sri Lanka and give a picture a normalcy in that country. Already, Canada has said it would not be attending the meet whilst Australia is considering it.

“The war was formally over in 2009 after an enormous sacrifice. Some think it was a genocide whilst others call it war crimes and human rights violations,” she said. “However, we are all under one opinion –that Rajapakse must be put on trial by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Sri Lankan Tamils must be granted referendum for a political solution of their plight and the Sinhala Army must be withdrawn from Tamil territories.”

In the name of demining the north and east, the army, she says, has occupied every Tamil territory even as the Tamils themselves languish in refugee camps. The NAPM and other human rights organisations, she said, were worried about the 90,000 war widows in Sri Lanka, mainly Tamils, “who are sexually abused left and right. Women are raped consistently and made pregnant. It is similar to what the Conquistadors did in Mexico to native American population.”

To understand and decipher the tragedy unfolding in India’s backyard, “which is extremely damaging to democracy and legitimises totalitarianism and murder of local population, public opinion has to mobilised.”

The NAPM’s tour therefore is happening at a crucial juncture through Pondicherry, Kochi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bhopal, Lucknow and Patna to highlight the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.