GENEVA, March 21 (Agencies): India for the second year running voted for a United States sponsored resolution condemning Sri Lanka for its human rights violations against its Tamil minority, putting its regional ties and federal government at risk.
At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, India joined 25 out of 46 member countries that voted in favor of a strongly-worded resolution calling on Colombo “to conduct an independent and credible investigation” into crimes allegedly committed by Sri Lankan government forces against the Tamils towards the end of the 26-year civil war in 2009. Thirteen countries, including Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines voted against the resolution, and eight countries abstained.
In a statement before the UNHRC, India joined a majority of countries that demanded credible investigation and accountability from Sri Lanka saying it expected these measures to be to the satisfaction of the international community. But it refrained from moving stronger amendments that would have satisfied DMK, Tamil nationalists, and human rights groups while further aggravating Colombo.
“We encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to expedite the process of a broad-based, inclusive and meaningful reconciliation and political settlement that ensures that all communities live in dignity with equal rights and equal protection of the laws,” India`s envoy Dilip Sinha said in a statement. “As a neighbour with thousands of years of relations with Sri Lanka, we cannot remain untouched by developments in that country and will continue to remain engaged in this matter.”
The resolution and developments relating to Sri Lanka has roiled the stability of India`s federal government and is expected to have far reaching consequences for both regional politics within India and diplomacy in the neighborhood. Pakistan is already gloating over New Delhi`s discomfiture over voting against a neighbor with whom it has had strong, historical ties. Pakistan voted against the US resolution saying “a country specific resolution is not an example of constructive engagement.” Its envoy made snide references to Sri Lanka`s suffering for long “at the hands of foreign funded terrorism.”
The resolution was tougher than the one last year but was well short of text and tone that human rights groups and Tamil partisans demanded. “An independent, international investigation is both essential and overdue to obtain justice for victims,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement, criticizing the Council`s failure to call for one. Whether the relatively mild intervention by New Delhi is enough to mollify DMK concern remains to be seen given the impression that the resolution that was passed was a watered down one. India refrained from calling for an international probe and avoided using the term genocide, both of which was demanded by the DMK.