5.14 pm: DMK unimpressed despite resolution on Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka was clearly unhappy with the UN resolution that was passed against it a short while ago, with the country’s envoy calling it ‘overtly pessimistic’ and asking why there was an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with Sri Lanka. However the DMK is also unhappy.
“The resolution has been diluted, the government has failed”, said the DMK in remarks to media shortly after the resolution was moved in Geneva. “The formation of an international inquiry was a must to go into genocide, but this demand too has not been met”.
The resolution did not have any of the DMK demands, including the inclusion of the word ‘genocide’ and a demand for an international probe into rights abuses in the country. Times Now quoted sources as saying that the US had dissuaded India from including the eleventh hour amendments they had made to the resolution.
4.08 pm: Amnesty International welcomes adoption of resolution against Sri Lanka
Amnesty International spokesman Peter Splinter, has welcomed the UN resolution against Sri Lanka, saying that it was a good one, which pointed to the ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka and the need for ongoing international monitoring.
Splinter added that it would have been more desirable if the resolution mandated an international probe instead of just a ‘credible’ probe, but said that if the Sri Lankan government continued to behave in the manner they had been for the last few years, the next resolution would definitely see the imposition of an international probe.
“More than anything the resolution tells the people of Sri Lanka who are suffering that they are not alone, and the international community is concerned”, he added.
3.57 pm: UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka adopted 25 – 13 with eight abstentions
The UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka has been officially adopted by the council, with 25 members voting for the motion, and 13 voting against it. There are eight abstentions. The numbers are almost unchanged from that of last year. India voted for the resolution.
India’s envoy Dilip Sinha made a strongly worded statement on Sri Lanka, saying that it was imperative that Sri Lanka implemented the recommendations of the LLRC and moved forward in accordance with the 13th amendment to its constitution.
“It is vital that Sri Lanka addresses issues like missing persons, detainees, and the return of private lands by military”, Sinha said, adding that the measures taken so far were unsatisfactory.
“India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and share thousands of years of relationship. We cannot be but untouched by what happens in Sri Lanka”, he added.
Will this speech be good enough to win over the DMK and coax them back into the fold of the UPA? That will be interesting, considering that the resolution did not contain the word ‘genocide’, or call for an international probe – both of which were demands forwarded by Karunanidhi.
3.52 pm: Update – Japan will abstain from vote on Sri Lanka
Japan will abstain from the vote, said its envoy while asking the Sri Lankan government to move forward on the recommendations made by the LLRC, and appreciating the assurances made by President Mahinda Rajapasaka when he visited Japan earlier this year, that Provincial Council elections would be held in Jaffna.
3.49 pm: Thailand to vote against resolution, Korea to vote for
Both Thailand and Republic of Korea have expressed satisfaction with the Sri Lankan government’s steps, but while Thailand said it would vote against the resolution, Korea said it would support it.
3.42 pm: Why this obsession with Sri Lanka, asks envoy
Warning that resolutions such as that which was being brought against Sri Lanka would cause the UNHCR to suffer the same fate of its predecessor, the Sri Lankan envoy is asking “why this preoccupation with Sri Lanka on an inordinate and disproportionate level. It has been just three years and ten months since the war ended. We have demonstrated so much progress in a short period of time”, he asked.
The Lankan envoy also indirectly lashed out at the United States, saying it was only targeting countries that did not conform to its political agendas. “Today it is Sri Lanka, tomorrow it will be any country which does not adhere to the agenda of those who bring forward this resolution, who claim to stand for Human Rights the world over, while actively pursuing agendas other than Human Rights”, he said.
3.35 pm: Sri Lanka takes the floor, says ‘pessimistic’ draft is unacceptable
An extremely indignant Sri Lankan envoy has taken the floor, saying that the draft resolution is completely unacceptable to Sri Lanka. “The preambular part of the text is intrusive, replete with misrepresentations, focuses disproportionately on the negative and eliminates or is dismissive of the positive”, he said,
“There are also aspersions cast on domestic processes which are undergoing without any foundation”, he said.
The Sri Lankan delegation also stated that there were allegations that there was discrimination on the basis of ethnic and religious consideration, which were blatantly false.
3.30 pm: Venezuela slams Sri Lanka resolution as ‘hypocritical’ and ‘double standard’
Venezuela has rejected the resolution against Sri Lanka, saying that the resolution does not have any genuine cooperation or dialogue which is the cornerstone of any meaningful resolution. The envoy slammed it as being ‘hypocritical’ and of ‘double standard’ and said that Sri Lanka was being targeted despite the meaningful steps its government had been taking to foster reconciliation.
He added that Venezuela would vote against the resolution.
3.27 pm: EU, Switzerland, Brazil and Sierra Leone to vote against Sri Lanka
The envoys from Ireland (speaking on behalf of the EU), Switzerland, Brazil and Sierra Leone have all welcomed the resolution on Sri Lanka as being geared towards helping the country promote national reconciliation and accountability, and have said that they will support it.
3.17 pm: India ‘urges’ Sri Lanka to move forward on reconciliation
India’s envoy Dilip Sinha is reading out a diplomatic, yet strongly worded statement on Sri Lanka, saying that it was imperative that Sri Lanka implemented the recommendations of the LLRC and moved forward in accordance with the 13th amendment to its constitution.
The 13th amendment establishes the Provincial councils in Sri Lanka, and was an attempt to devolve power from the centre. It was introduced to the Sri Lankan constitution at the behest of India in 1987, and recently was called into question when President Mahinda Rajapaksa ruled out devolution of power in the Tamil dominated North and East.
“It is vital that Sri Lanka addresses issues like missing persons, detainees, and the return of private lands by military”, Sinha said, adding that the measures taken so far were unsatisfactory. This is one of the strongest statements India has ever made on Sri Lanka with regards to the ethnic conflict that ended in 2009.
Sinha added that it was India’s belief that the end of the conflict provided an unique opportunity to Sri Lanka for reconciliation and the opportunity needed to be grabbed.
“India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and share thousands of years of relationship. We cannot be but untouched by what happens in Sri Lanka”, he said, adding that India would continue to enage with the country.
Sinha also urged the President of the UNHRC to accept an invitation by Sri Lanka to visit the country.
3.10 pm: Pakistan to vote against US resolution on Sri Lanka, takes dig at India
The Pakistan envoy has said that the draft resolution against Sri Lanka was overly intrusive and interfering, adding that Pakistan was appreciative of Sri Lanka’s efforts to foster reconciliation and its continuing efforts to update the council on steps being taken in this regard.
And in what can be construed as a dig against India, the envoy said that Sri Lanka had suffered for many years from “externally sponsored terror” and said the country needed more time to right all the wrongs that had been perpetuated on it.
Of course the Pakistan envoy could also have been referring to the active Tamil diaspora in countries like England and Canada which were instrumental in funding the LTTE during its two decade long struggle against the Sri Lankan government.
He added that Pakistan was of the opinion that country specific resolutions must be of a constructive nature to bear any fruitful results, and that the Sri Lanka resolution was not an example of such a resolution.
“A country like Sri Lanka needs to be helped and not chastised”, he added.
3.05 pm: United States presents the draft resolution on Sri Lanka
The resolution on Sri Lanka is being co sponsored by 41 countries, says the US, saying that Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on accountability, the deteriorating human rights situation and said that much remains to be done in terms of adopting the constructive suggestions of the country’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission.
The US said that they were committed to working constructively with Sri Lanka, and stood ready to assist in the effort to rectify the situation.
3.00 pm: UN session gets underway
Well, it took a while, but the UN Human Rights Council meet has finally got underway. The draft resolutions are still not being taken up for discussion, because there are still some procedural things that have to be dealt with, including the appointment of people to various international councils.
Meanwhile surprising no one, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that India will vote against Sri Lanka at the vote.
1.59 pm: UN session to begin shortly
The UN session and vote on Sri Lanka will begin in a short while from now. Still no word on whether India’s amendments have been included in the final draft of the resolution.
1.03 pm: Sri Lankan issue is more troublesome in India, say Lankan newspapers
Sri Lanka’s government run Daily News newspaper has run an editorial slamming the anti-Lanka protests in Tamil Nadu, and calling the attack of several Sri Lankan Buddhist monks ‘loutish behaviour’.
“It’s excellent at this time then that Sri Lankan regime and people, have not taken cudgels against India. Why should they? India’s problems with regard to the Sri Lankan issue seem to be more troublesome than Sri Lanka’s own!”, read the editorial.
“The attacks were ghoulish and would be a blot on India’s image without the slightest doubt, though it’s granted that the Indian political establishment or the Indian people as a whole have nothing to do with them. This behaviour would invite instant condemnation from anybody concerned with these events, politically or otherwise”, it added.
Meanwhile an organisation calling itself ‘Ravana Balaya’ launched a protest opposite the Indian High Commission in Colombo yesterday condemning the recent attacks on Sri Lankan Buddhist monks in Tamil Nadu, reported the country’s Island newspaper.
11.00 am: UNHRC resolution on SL today, will India’s amendments make it?
The UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka will go to vote in Geneva at around 2.o0 pm India time, and it remains to be seen whether India’s amendments which were decided on at the eleventh hour, will be incorporated into the final text.
India’s envoy in Geneva, Dilip Sinha was in Delhi on Wednesday and met with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss a set of amendments intended to strengthen the final draft of the resolution against Sri Lanka, which has been widely decried as being greatly diluted.
Compared to the original draft, the final resolution has given up the demand for an international investigation, and now the onus to set up a mechanism for investigation is on Sri Lanka.
The other changes that dilute the resolution are:
1. Government of Sri Lanka has been replaced with “each State” thereby making it a general observation than being specific to Sri Lanka.
2. Three new paragraphs that support Sri Lanka have been inserted into the revised draft.
3. The new text welcomes the announcement by the Government of Sri Lanka to hold elections to the Provincial Council in the Northern Province in September 2013
4. New text also refers to rebuilding infrastructure in Northern Sri Lanka and how LLRC report can be the basis of national reconciliation.
It was this perceived dilution that also prompted the DMK to withdraw support to the UPA government.The Indian government’s sudden rush to incorporate amendments is being seen as an effort to placate Karunanidhi’s party who wanted the Indian government to intervene and strengthen the UN resolution.
Of course given the CBI raids that were conducted at DMK leader MK Stalin’s house early morning, it will be interesting to see if mere amendments will be enough to win back the DMK. Especially given that a majority of party’s in the house are also uncomfortable with the DMK’s second demand that the Parliament pass a resolution condemning ‘genocide’ in Sri Lanka, and calling for an international probe into perceived war crimes.
Major political parties like the Samajwadi Party and BJP have all said that they are not comfortable with the idea of passing a country specific resolution.
“We have recently rejected Pakistan parliament resolution on Afzal Guru. How can we do the same to a friendly neighbour. At the UNHCR, India should do what is in the national interest and interest of Tamils of Lanka,” said SP leader Rewati Raman Singh while emerging from the meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
JD(U) Sharad Yadav also echoed similar views at the meeting where he is understood to have questioned the logic of adopting a resolution against a sovereign nation.
He is believed to have told the meeting that if India has to provide relief to Sri Lankan Tamils, it should do so without antagonising the host country, sources said.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka has rejected even the greatly watered down version of the draft resolution.
In letters addressed to foreign ministers of UNHRC member countries, External Affairs Minister GL Peiris said Sri Lanka believes that drawing disproportionate attention to Sri Lanka’s situation and introducing resolution that seeks to discredit, single out the country are unhelpful and counterproductive to Sri Lanka’s current reconciliation process, reported Xinhua.
The minister noted that the beneficiaries of such action would be none other than the divisive forces that seek to destabilize the hard won peace in the country.
Moreover, he said the precedent created by intrusive, biased and politicized actions such as the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka would pose danger for all nations.
“Just as the government of Sri Lanka did not recognize the last HRC resolution, it rejects the new resolution. Sri Lanka seeks the understanding and the support of HRC member states at the vote on this resolution,” the minister said in his letter.