Indian Activist Gets Rajapaksa Invite to War Crimes Panel
By P K Balachandran | ENS | Published: 11th August 2014 06:00 AM |
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has invited Indian human rights activist, Avdhash Kaushal, to join the panel of experts attached to the Presidential Commission investigating wartime disappearances and charges of war crimes against the Lankan armed forces and the Tamil Tigers.
The Dehradun-based Kaushal told Express over phone on Sunday that Rajapaksa had phoned him to request him join the team of human rights experts, who will advice the commission when their advise is sought.
Asked if he will accept the invitation, he said that he is still to get anything in writing from the Lankan government, but said that he is keen to join. “I will definitely accept. I believe that the Sri Lankan government has faith in me. I have trained a number of Lankans, including Tamils, in human rights. About 20 Lankans have so far attended the 10-month course in human rights at my organisation the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK),” Kaushal said.
Asked if the Government of India will approve of his involvement in the Lankan panel, he said: “I know that the government of India will not like it. But I will go, whether they like it or not. I am not on the payroll of the Indian government.”
He had met President Rajapaksa three or four times in India and Colombo. “In fact, Rajapaksa’s first visit to India in 1999, was at my invitation. I was holding a seminar on tribal rights and Rajapaksa attended it as the Lankan Minster of Labour and fisheries. He also gave a number of lectures here. I had met him Colombo during his first term as President,” Kaushal said.
Bid to Outdo UN
In a bid to out do the UN investigative panel on war crimes in Lanka, Rajapaksa last week announced his decision to expand the panel of experts from three to six.
Media reports said that the new entrants will be from India, Japan and Pakistan. Presently, there are three members, all of them from the West. They are: Sir Desmond de Silva (UK), Sir Geoffrey Nice (UK), and Dr.David Crane (US), all lawyers of repute who had taken part in trials of alleged war criminals.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights panel has ex-Finnish President Martti Ahtsaari, former New Zealand judge Silvia Cartwright, and former president of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma Jahangir.