As the deadline approaches for a possible vote on the U.S.-backed resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, diplomats following the developments concede that Sri Lanka was putting up a tough fight.
The Indian change of stance on single-country resolutions had made a few countries look favourably at the resolutions, said diplomatic sources in Colombo and Geneva.
Earlier this week, it appeared that Sri Lanka had considerable support in the Council of 47 nations. Sri Lanka had lobbied hard to get at least 18 countries on its side as of Monday. Many of these countries did not go into the present case per se, but were more bothered of the torch of inquiry turning in their direction at some later date. There were at least 10 nations in the undecided category. The Indian stand seemed to have made some of the 10 countries re-think. Plus, the U.S. has put in additional resources on Ground Zero in Geneva, and has been working overtime to persuade the fence sitters. “The Indian Prime Minister’s statement will make other countries think carefully about their positions,” said a Western diplomat.
The U.S. has maintained that the resolution expresses the international community’s concern about the delays in implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee report and called for action on important steps towards reconciliation and accountability. Sri Lanka says the resolution is against it. “Against is the operative word,” said Bandula Jayasekara, President’s spokesperson.
Sri Lanka also continued to witness protests outside the Indian High Commission. On Wednesday, it was the turn of monks and Tamil fishermen to put pressure on India.
Buddhist monks, who said they belonged to the ‘National Sangha Council,’ marched to the High Commission demanding that India should not support the proposed U.S. led resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council.
The monks, supported by the ultra nationalist JHU, carried a banner which read “Leaders of India — do not break the long standing friendship between Sri Lanka and India by supporting U.S. resolution”. The JHU is a constituent of the UPFA, Sri Lanka’s ruling alliance.
A group of Tamil fishermen from the Northern Province also marched to the High Commission. The ‘United Tamils of Sri Lanka’ members held a demonstration in front of the High Commission and urged India “not to do anything which will affect their livelihood and harmony”. Both groups handed over separate memoranda to Deputy High Commissioner P. Kumaran.
The High Commission posted a ‘Consular Notice for Indian Nationals’ in its Facebook site to “inform all Indian nationals in Sri Lanka” of the “mechanism has been put in place to address their grievances and contingency situations.” Indian nationals have also been requested to register online on the HCI, Colombo website www.hcicolombo.org.