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Athletics | International

Indian province refuses to host Asian Champs



The chief minister of an Indian state scheduled to host the Asian Athletics Championships is refusing to organise the July meet because of the participation of Sri Lankan athletes.

Jayaram Jayalalithaa, chief minister of Tamil Nadu, said in a statement Thursday that staging the July 3-7 meet in the state capital Chennai would anger people in her province because of the alleged atrocities against the ethnic Tamil minority during the civil war in Sri Lanka.

"Since there has been no favourable response from the Asian Athletics Association, my government will at no cost accept holding the event in which Sri Lanka is also participating in Tamil Nadu," she said in the statement. "Tamils also will never accept it."

Jayalalitha said the Indian government and sports officials had been kept in the loop regarding the state's objections.

"It had been requested that they (AAA) update us on the follow-up action with copies of the letter sent to secretaries of union external affairs and sports ministries, but there has been no information from the association so far," she said.

On Wednesday, Jayalalitha slammed the Sri Lankan government for the alleged killing by its army of the 12-year-old son of former militant leader Velupillai Prabhakaran after TV images shown in Britain suggest the boy was not killed in crossfire as presumed. The images showed him in the custody of Sri Lankan soldiers before he was killed.

The Sri Lankan government and now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels have been accused of serious human rights violations during the 25-year war, especially in its final stages. According to a U.N. report, tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the five months before fighting ended in 2009.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said last week that Sri Lanka has failed to investigate reports of atrocities and claimed opposition leaders are still being killed or abducted.

The U.N. rights council passed a resolution last year urging Sri Lanka to investigate human rights abuses, as the country's own war commission had recommended. The clergy has asked the council to pass a new resolution noting a lack of progress by the government.



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