New Delhi: Despite
Sri Lanka's hopes, India is likely to back the US-sponsored
resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva
against Colombo - if there is a vote.
But this decision will not be influenced by the anger in Tamil
Nadu against the killing of large numbers of Tamil civilians by
the Sri Lankan military in the war against the Tamil Tigers. New
Delhi is convinced that while rehabilitation of the war displaced
is taking place in the island's northeast in some measure, Sri
Lanka does not seem to be sincere vis-à-vis national
In any case, the situation at the ongoing UN meet in Geneva is
different from last year when also the US piloted a resolution
pulling up Sri Lanka for rights abuses and more. In a move that
shook Sri Lanka, India broke ranks with the rest of South Asia and
voted for the US resolution that got passed despite hectic
lobbying by Colombo.
The 47-member UNHRC membership is rotational. Russia, Cuba and
China, which were among Colombo's backers last year, are no more
in the Council.
Last year, after Sri Lanka's refusal to deal with Washington,
India engaged with US diplomats and toned down the resolution,
deleting references to its intrusive aspects.
Like many developing countries, India remains sensitive to Western
moves that could be construed as interference in a country's
sovereign affairs. This time, Pakistan and some like-minded
countries are said to be talking to US diplomats, apparently on
behalf of Sri Lanka.
Despite strident demands from political players in Tamil Nadu, the
Congress-led central government has not revealed how it will vote
this year. One reason is that the US resolution is subject to
amendments, and India will wait to see its final shape.
Second, there is a possibility that the resolution may be adopted
by consensus, in which case it will be futile for India to reveal
its cards - at this point.
Colombo seems to have realized that the dice is more heavily
loaded against it at Geneva now compared to 2012.
The dominant view in New Delhi is that the Sri Lankan leadership
has badly bungled after crushing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE). The feeling is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
knowing that many Tamil civilians did die in the final stages of
war, could have offered a public regret and announced adequate
This would have reduced the ill feeling among many Tamils, more so
because many were caught in the horrendous conflict between
Colombo and the LTTE against their wishes.
Instead, Sri Lanka took a bizarre stand - and has stuck to it -
that no civilian was killed in the military blitzkrieg against the
LTTE and that the Tigers were to blame for all civilian deaths.
Colombo has also dragged its feet on the issue of national
reconciliation, refusing to engage in an earnest dialogue with the
Tamil National Alliance, the biggest Tamil political grouping in
This has prevented Sri Lanka from taking bold steps to bring about
a national reconciliation that would help heal the wounds of a
conflict that left tens of thousands dead over a quarter century.
Sri Lanka has also gone back on the promises it made to Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on political steps it would take
once the LTTE became history.
For these reasons, if there is a vote in Geneva, India may do a
repeat of last year, say those in the know here.
(M R Narayan Swamy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)