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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Why India voted against Lanka

Patali Champika Ranawaka
Some years ago, the question of the ownership of the Kachchathivu Islands was raised in the chamber of India’s Lok Sabha. Opposition lawmakers demanded to know why India was bowing down before a small nation like Sri Lanka and having its pride insulted. In reply, the leaders of India’s Congress party said there were no issues regarding pride among brothers.

However, this relationship collapsed after 1977, and turned into an clandestine war after 1984. The wounds only started to heal after the LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. India openly did nothing when Premadasa and then Chandrika were waging war against the LTTE, or when Ranil called upon Western nations to help the LTTE to carve out a separate state in Sri Lanka. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa was waging war to eradicate the LTTE menace, India stayed firmly behind Sri Lanka, especially in the midst of the general election period in May, 2009. This was despite Karunanidhi’s fasts, Jayalalitha’s strikes, and Vaiko’s revolts, all of which were inflaming Tamil Nadu. In 2009, India voted against the resolution brought against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

There are no mass killings in Sri Lanka today. Most of the displaced have been resettled. The North is rising again through a combination of new roads, towns, electricity generation projects, irrigation projects and other development initiatives. The North, which was taken back 30 years by the actions of Tamil Nazis, is now recording unprecedented 20 per cent growth. Democratic elections have been held and civil administration established.
India is not ignorant of the progress Sri Lanka has achieved. Yet how was it that India, which stood with Sri Lanka during the most difficult of times in 2009, turn against us in 2012, when the country is very much at peace? Had just India and Mauritius, over which it has much influence, not voted for the US resolution, it would have received just 22 votes out of 47. Then it would have been a resolution which did not have a majority. Thus, it is crystal clear that the Geneva vote turned against Sri Lanka because India sided against us. The resolution does not stop at attempting to force us into implementing the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It constructs an environment where Sri Lanka could be charged with war crimes before an international court. It virtually gives the US a blank cheque.

When the UNHRC was established in 2006, the US opposed it. However, once established, it got into the council through the back door and effectively took it over in much the same way it has taken over every other decision making body within the UN. It should come as no surprise then that it is trying to use the UNHRC for its own ends. The US is not sheltering Tamil Nazi war criminals on its shores with the intention of protecting the rights of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. As I have explained before, the intention of Uncle Sam and Aunty Pillai is to prevent South Asia, especially Sri Lanka, from becoming the centre of commerce in the Indian Ocean. The intention is to prevent China from gaining a foothold in strategic locations in Sri Lanka.
India’s action at the UNHRC clearly has nothing to do with the threats coming from Tamil Nadu. I say this because India stood with Sri Lanka in 2009, when protests from the state were far more intense than this time. It is also not out of a desire to promote the rights of the island’s Tamils, when you consider the atrocities committed by members of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) during 1987-90. The LTTE itself complained of these atrocities to the UNHRC at the time. They even made a documentary titled “You too, India?” which detailed how Indian forces murdered women and children in the North. The documentary was more disturbing than the one made by Channel 4.

It is also clearly not out of a desire to promote human rights in Sri Lanka, as India faces similar allegations regarding its rule in Kashmir. The Indian army is accused of killing at least 9,000 civilians in the region, whose bodies can be found in some 38 different mass graves. Likewise, India faces similar allegations to Sri Lanka that its forces killed surrendering fighters of rebel groups. Indian forces are accused of killing the leader of a Maoist rebel group after he was captured, in much the same way that Sri Lankan forces are accused of killing surrendered LTTE cadres (including Prabhakaran).
India’s stance was also not motivated by a desire to secure self determination and devolution powers, as India is also subjected to a UN resolution passed in 1948 on Kashmir. One must also not forget that in 1988, Sri Lanka reverted to a provincial council system much like the Indian model.   
It is reported that Sonia Gandhi became highly distressed after seeing the body of Prabhakaran’s youngest son, Balachandran, and that she instructed her government to take action. Some have clearly forgotten that though Balachandran may have been a minor, he was also a child soldier. It is also noteworthy to point out that some mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who lived in the region were members of the LTTE. The likes of Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman never had time for families. They engaged in terrorism as a family-run business.

This is what makes Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Rohana Wijeweera different. This is not because he was Sinhalese, but because Prabhakaran made his entire family practice terrorism. Thus, why did India voted against its neighbour, one whose friendship is vital for the stability of the region?     One reason is that it fears the changes which would come when China gains a foothold. Another reason is the subtle warning issued regarding Sri Lanka’s increasingly cosy relationship with Muslim countries. The third reason is a desire to prevent Sri Lanka from becoming a commercial hub and centre of commerce. The fourth reason is to attract the attention of the UN to the region, and gradually take over their institutes later.
The March issue of “The Economist” has pointed out how the Indian economy, which achieved astonishing growth during the 2006-2011 period, is collapsing. As India grew economically, the economy of its states also began to grow, resulting in the provincial parties having too much say. The centre became weak.

At the same time, private entrepreneurs who carried India’s economy (such as Tata, Reliance, Ambani, Mahendra, Bharathi Airtel) started looking for overseas options after suffering losses within the country. The Indian central government is becoming weaker with states determining the direction of the country’s economic and foreign policies. It is only natural that such weak governments would target smaller nations like Sri Lanka. Where India has miscalculated is that unlike in the 1980s, Sri Lanka is not prepared to simply sit by and accept such beatings.

It was reported from Trincomalee last week that Vinayagam loyalists who have been trained in Tamil Nadu, are carrying out assassinations after sneaking back into Sri Lanka. It is time Tamil Nadu understood that it cannot hope to carry out a clandestine war in Sri Lanka like it managed to do in the 1980s.

By voting against Sri Lanka, India has not only dealt a killer blow to Indo-Sri Lanka relations, but also to reconciliation efforts among Sinhalese and Tamils. This in turn is akin to committing an act of diplomatic hara-kiri as both Tamil fascism and Western imperialism; which India is attempting to protect through its actions, are the real enemies of India. 
The Nation


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