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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 26, June 13, 2009

Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils

Saturday 13 June 2009, by Era Sezhiyan

Era Sezhiyan, a former Member of Parliament, has brought to light the documents relating to India’s co-sponsoring and supporting the Sri Lankan resolution to the UN Human Rights Council on May 27, 2009, commending the acts of the Sri Lanka. Below is given a summary of the relevant portions of his appeal and the note to Members of Parliament and the scanned copies of the Human Rights Council’s documents relating to India being a co-sponsor and voting in support of the Resolution of Sri Lanka.

When in the eighties, organised violence was let loose against the Tamil speaking population in Sri Lanka with the open connivance of the Government, Police and Army of Sri Lanka, the Government of India adopted a good diplomatic approach to negotiate with the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil representatives in order to assuage the rigour and animosity of the situation. It was well known that thereafter the Indian Government began to give special assistance and facilities to the training and organising of Tamil groups and rebel elements. After the cruel assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, there was change in the stand of the Indian Government to give the Sri Lankan Government arms, ammunition and sophisticated defence materials which the Sri Lankan Government needed desperately to control the Tamil militants. In course of time, the Sri Lankan Government utilised the military potential given by India not only to control the rebel militants, but also to unleash indiscriminate genocidal attack on the Tamil population as a whole.

Tragic Drama in Human Rights Council

As per the Human Rights Council rules, a request of minimum 16 signatures is required to convene a special session to enquire into the misdeeds of a country in damaging the human rights of sections of the people by anybody including the government. Denmark took efforts to approach the HRC on the Sri Lanka situation by mustering the support of 20 members such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Espania, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. Switzerland submitted to the HRC a draft decision on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

India gives Solid Support to Sri Lanka

Against the Swiss resolution, Sri Lanka gave a counter-resolution which was co-sponsored by India, Pakistan, Russia, China, Cuba, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

At the preliminary meeting of the Council on May 26, 2009 for consideration of the Swiss proposal, India as a member of the HRC sought to postpone discussion on the Swiss resolution and at one stage staged a walk-out to assert its determination.

When the Swiss resolution did not gather majority in the Council, the Special Session of the HRC considered the full fledged resolution submitted by Sri Lanka, glorifying the acts of the Sri Lankan Government in winning the war against the militants and soliciting assistance from other countries for rebuilding the country through peaceful development and for maintaining the rights of all people. Eventually, the Sri Lankan resolution was adopted with the support of 29 against 12 with six abstentions.

Scanned images of the UN documents are included here relating to India’s co-sponsoring and voting in favour of Sri Lanka’s resolution on May 27, 2009.

Defeat of Sri Lanka in the May 2008 Election to the Human Rights Council

It may be noted here that Sri Lanka was rejected by the UN Members in the election towards membership of the Human Rights Council. In the elections for four seats of the Council held in May 2008, there were six candidates Bahrain, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste.

Leading human rights organisations in Sri Lanka and all over the world campaigned vigorously against the Sri Lankan candidature. Peace Nobel Laureate, Jimmy Carter, urged the United Nations General Assembly not to elect Sri Lanka with its ignoble track record of several acts against human rights. Another Nobel Laureate, South African-Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was emphatic that ‘Sri Lanka does not deserve a seat in the UN Human Rights Council’. A third Nobel Laureate for Peace, Adolf Perez Esquivel from Argentina, also held that the member countries ‘can do a great service to the people of Sri Lanka by rejecting their government’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council‘.

The results of the votes cast by the Members of the UN Assembly was that four countries successful in the 2008 elections to the Human Rights Council were Japan (155 votes), Bahrain (142), South Korea (139) and Pakistan (114). The candidature of Sri Lanka with 101 votes was solemnly rejected by the UN General Assembly to the great jubilation of the peace loving people and the human rights organisations. In the 2008 elections also, India voted in favour of Sri Lanka.

The dual policy of the Indian Government has come to the stage of climax now. When the Sri Lankan Government claims to have defeated decisively the LTTE, the Indian Government is unable to put a check on the continuing all round extermination of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government.

In our representative system of parliamentary democracy, the government is accountable to Parliament and through Parliament to the people of India. The return of Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister to the great expectation of the people should augur well for us to hope that the new government will take remedial measures and revise its diplomatic policy which should be in accordance with the letter and spirit of the norms of human rights and credibility so as to reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people of India.

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