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Bid to censure Lanka at UN puts India in a fix

NEW DELHI: India finds itself in a political bind over a UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) move to censure Sri Lanka for alleged rights violations during the last weeks of the war against the terror group, LTTE. Although the vote is still a few days away, it is now embroiled in domestic political compulsions of a weak UPA government since its ally DMK has openly asked the Centre to vote against Sri Lanka at the HR Council.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has had to write a letter to DMK chief K Karunanidhi, saying efforts are on to achieve a “forward-looking” outcome that would avoid “deepening confrontation and mistrust”.

“We are engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve an outcome that is forward-looking and that ensures that rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between concerned parties, a way forward is found on issues related to accountability and reconciliation,” Singh wrote. This came after DMK parliamentarians asked the government to clarify its stand on the resolution.

On Tuesday, AIADMK and DMK forced an adjournment of the Rajya Sabha over the issue and proceedings of the Lok Sabha were also disrupted for some time as they pressed their demand for supporting US-sponsored resolution in the Geneva-based UNHRC.

India has a tradition of not voting on any country-specific resolution, but it’s unclear whether it would be able to explain this position to Congress’s allies in Tamil Nadu. Diplomats are working overtime in the UN to take the resolution option off the table. However, this is dependent on how the western countries, particularly the US, regard the vote.

As western pressure builds against Sri Lanka in the run-up to a UNHRC vote, Colombo rejected as ‘malicious’ and ‘fabricated’ a video documentary by UK’s Channel 4 television.

“Sri Lanka categorically rejects the malicious allegations made by the Independent Television Network, UK, through its new Channel 4 video on Sri Lanka. Content of the video is fabricated, not being authenticated and against the universal ethics of journalism. The report is politically motivated to get more attention ahead of a vote on USD-backed UN Human Rights Council resolution for an inquiry into human rights violations by Sri Lankan forces.”

India is increasingly exasperated by Colombo’s delaying tactics on getting a devolution plan working. Despite repeated promises, the Rajapakse government, according to Indian government sources, has shown no initiative to work out a political solution on the Tamils’ issue.

Singh told Karunanidhi that India had emphasized to Sri Lanka the importance of a genuine process of reconciliation to address grievances of Tamils, adding that New Delhi welcomed the report of Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC). “We have also emphasized the need for an independent and credible mechanism to investigate allegations of human rights violations in a time-bound manner, which has also been recommended by LLRC. Our focus on these issues with the Government of Sri Lanka will continue,” Singh said.

India had also urged Sri Lanka for early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigations into alleged human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns of all affected families, Singh said.

“We have offered our technical, economical and financial assistance to aid this process. I would like to underline that it is as a result of our engagement with the government of Sri Lanka and our considerable assistance programme that a modicum of normalcy is beginning to return to the Tamil areas in Sri Lanka,” the PM said. “There has also been progress in the areas of withdrawal of emergency regulations and the conduct of local body elections in the northern province of Sri Lanka. We intend to remain engaged with the government of Sri Lanka in order to take this process forward,” he added

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