Millennium Post

India must vote against Sri Lanka

As the United Nations Human Rights Council takes up the US-driven resolution against Sri Lankan war crimes on 22 March, the Indian government must stand up for the right cause and vote against its neighbour’s war-time transgressions. The UPA-II, although under tremendous pressure from DMK and AIADMK to move against the Lankans for the latter’s three-decade-long subordination of the ethnic Tamils, should not be just political considerations that direct UPA’s decision. Toughening of stand against Sri Lanka must be carried out above and beyond the diplomatic protocols of non-interference into the domestic affairs of foreign countries. However, given the substantial numbers of resident Tamil people in India, the matter has already passed the watermark of dispassionate judgement. Last year as well, India had shown courage by voting with the US for a resolution asking Sri Lanka to investigate the abuses by its military during the final phase of war against the LTTE in 2009. Consequently, the Mahindra Rajapakse government was unhappy with New Delhi, but the Tamil issue is too close to the Indian heart for any wishy-washy procrastination on the part of our state. Now, after a year of thorough investigation and surfacing of graphic evidence incriminating the military’s brutal role in the crackdown, which included killing women and children, such as murdering the 12-year-old son of the slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran, there is no option but to take the hard stance against the cavalier attitude of the Lankan government towards its own citizens.

This is a humanitarian crisis of the worst order and must be addressed in a concerted and unruffled manner, despite the competitive politics played by the parties in Tamil Nadu, who have latched on to this sensitive issue as the decisive factor for the next general elections. Although consular relations with Sri Lanka have improved over the years, with cricket and commerce often blurring the strong differences over Lanka’s favouritism towards the Sinhalese community over the ethnic Tamils, indiscriminate killing of over 40,000 civilians during the three decade war scream out for justice, delayed but not denied. The simmering anger against the Lankan government in the global fraternity, with human rights group advocating trial for long at the International Criminal Court, has left no choice for New Delhi but to back Washington in this regard. Albeit China is likely to side with Sri Lanka at the 22 march UNHRC resolution, that is a calculated move to veto the powerful US resolution and is intended to check America’s grandstanding on the matter. However, the footage of execution in the documentary aired on a British television channel thoroughly exposed the excesses of the Lankan state militia and the sustained pogrom, which has severely tarnished the image of the Lankan state. In the face of successive UN reports documenting the war crimes, New Delhi must bite the bullet, although it cannot completely ignore the vagaries of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.
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