India on Tuesday abstained from voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council on a resolution against Sri Lanka for crimes committed against Tamils during the country’s long civil war, which ended in 2009. However, the resolution on deterioration of Sri Lanka’s human rights situation was adopted after 22 members out of 47 voted in its favour.
A total of 11 countries, including China and Pakistan, voted against the resolution, in support of the Sri Lankan government. Meanwhile, 14 countries abstained from voting.
The resolution titled “Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka” was taken up after a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report, released on January 27, warned that Sri Lanka’s failure to address human rights violations and war crimes committed in the past had put the country on an “alarming path” that could lead to a “recurrence” of policies and practices of earlier crimes.
Shortly before the voting, the India mission in Geneva released a statement expressing support for Sri Lankan Tamils for equality. It also stressed on unity and territorial integrity of the country.
“We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka’s progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives,” the statement said.
“At the same time, we believe that the work of OHCHR should be in conformity with [the] mandate given by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly,” the statement said.
India urged Sri Lanka to “carry forward” the process of reconciliation and to “address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected”.
Tamil Nadu parties call to vote in favour of resolution
India’s decision to abstain from voting comes days ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance partner All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had urged the Narendra Modi government to support the resolution against Sri Lanka for war crimes.
AIADMK leader M Thambidurai had said on Tuesday that the prime minister had assured them that he would take up the cause and protect the interests of Sri Lankan Tamil people, PTI reported.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin had also said that India should vote in favour of the United Nations’ resolution against Sri Lanka for its war crimes and human rights violations.
Meanwhile, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief and Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko had warned that the BJP-led Centre should not ignore the sentiments of Tamil people. Vaiko’s party is an ally of the DMK and the politician is a known sympathiser of the separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Sri Lanka had called the draft resolution “unwarranted, unjustified” and in violation of the relevant articles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The UN Human Rights Council has moved several resolutions against Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 12 years ago, but Sri Lanka’s incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa dispensation had always called it an “unwanted foreign interference”, The Hindu reported.
According to the United Nations, 80,000 to 1,00,000 people died in the 26-year-long war, in which the Tamil Tigers hoped to carve out a separate state for the Tamil minority.