India votes against Sri Lanka

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India on Thursday voted in favour of a resolution backed by the United States, urging Sri Lanka to investigate alleged violations during its war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The UN’s top human rights body has passed a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to properly investigate alleged war crimes during its 26-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva approved the resolution with 24 countries in favour and 15 against. Eight countries abstained from Thursday’s vote.

Sri Lanka and its allies on the 47-member council had fiercely resisted the resolution saying it unduly interfered in the country’s domestic affairs and could hinder its reconciliation process.

But backers, such as the United States, the European Union and India, say credible probes into alleged crimes committed by both sides are an important step for justice and equality in post-conflict Sri Lanka.

The resolution in Geneva became the driving issue in Sri Lanka’s ties with India, as New Delhi was pressurised by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) to vote for the resolution.

China however backed Sri Lanka and opposed the proposed UN resolution.

Sri Lankan representative at UNHRC session, Bandula Jayasekara, urged the members not to adopt the resolution.

“We have said that this is very intrusive. We have explained that we are working on this. But this sort of intrusive force would derail the process,” said Jayasekara.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka requested India to ‘reconsider’ its support for a US-backed resolution. However on Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that his country’s ties with India remains cordial as they have been at all times, pointing to “domestic political compulsions” for New Delhi’s change of stance on a US-sponsored resolution on alleged rights abuses.

Rajapaksa, the powerful younger brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was responding to India’s change of stance regarding the resolution sponsored by the US to censure Colombo for alleged human rights violations at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.

Rajapaksa, who steered the government’s victorious military campaign against the LTTE, said Sri Lanka had noted the change of Indian stance from opposing country specific resolutions to a stance of supporting the US move.

“We have to understand the domestic political compulsions for the Indian government,” he said.

Rajapaksa said a visit to Tamil Nadu by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton last year was a precursor to the American resolution against Sri Lanka.

He denied the accusations that government troops had deliberately targeted Tamil civilians in the no fire zones (NFZ) during the final stages of the ethnic conflict with the LTTE.

Western countries and international human rights groups have accused the Sri Lankan military of large-scale human rights violations during the war against the LTTE which ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

International rights groups have alleged that up to 40,000 civilians died in the final months of Sri Lanka’s military campaign to crush the Tamil Tigers, who waged a bloody decades-long campaign for a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

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