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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

another US sponsored resolution at Geneva against Sri Lanka - what will India do ?

‘No Fire Zone’ has incensed the human minds…….. it is an investigatory documentary about the final weeks of Sri Lankan civil war directed by  Callum Macrae.  In the series of photographs shot in 2009, the bare-chested boy is first shown seated on a bench watching something outside the frame; then he is seen having a snack and in the third image he is lying on the ground with bullet holes in his chest. The photographs, which were released by the British broadcaster Channel 4, appear to document the final moments in the life of 12-year-old Balachandran Prabhakaran, the youngest son of the leader of LTTE.  In an exclusive in The Hindu,  Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied that the Army killed LTTE chief Prabakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran.

In this background, Sri Lanka  now faces its second US-sponsored resolution in as many years at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. America is very keen on India’s support on this issue since it is a key regional player.  New Delhi is under intense pressure from political parties in Tamil Nadu to back the resolution rebuking Sri Lanka over war crimes.  Not sure of the reaction of Delhi as there would be talks that India’s support for the motion is likely to cause diplomatic tensions with Colombo.

Those who follow the cause of Sri Lankan tamils will sure remember 23rd Mar 2012, when there was debate on the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Convention  at Geneva. At the end of the debate, Sri Lanka  faced a major embarrassment as the UN's top human rights body adopted a resolution censuring it for alleged war crimes in the conflict with LTTE as India joined the West in backing the US-sponsored move. In the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, 24 countries, including India, voted for the resolution and 15 against it, while eight nations abstained. India, which normally does not vote on nation-specific resolutions, made a last-minute departure in the current instance after overwhelming pressure from parties in Tamil Nadu, to vote against Sri Lanka.

Well, it was a paper victory and nothing big came out of that is another issue altogether.  Sky nor the roof came crashing down as it was a non-binding resolution.  It did score morally a correct message in trying to provide redressal of grievances of tamils. The Chinese delegate  had stated that the resolution was a blatant violation of Sri Lanka’s rights as a sovereign nation.

Moving to the present, the specifics of the pending US resolution remain unknown, but it is expected to once again call on the Sri Lankan government to work towards reconciliation and open up its doors to international monitors. Firstpost quoting US State Dept spokesman reports that “The resolution will ask the Government of Sri Lanka to follow through on its own commitments to its people,”

Morally, India should back the UNHRC resolution rebuking Sri Lanka. There are reports that PM had promised to back the resolution though the fine print is not yet out.  It appears that motion also, even if successful may not bind the Srilankan Govt to any policy.  Still a rebuke would harm them internationally.  In 2010 the European Union withheld trade preferences to Sri Lanka over its perceived failure to address human rights concerns.

There have been varying estimate of those civilians killed in the war and media freedom is still trampled there.  Sri Lanka has dismissed the claims and a large team of Sri Lankan officials and diplomats are lobbying countries to oppose any fresh resolution, saying such a move would damage reconciliation efforts.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Mar 2013.

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