Wed, 21 Mar 2012 01:52:31 GMT

Sri Lanka urges India to review Geneva stand



New Delhi/Colombo, March 20 (IANS) Sri Lanka Tuesday urged India to review its stand on the 'war crimes' resolution against it in Geneva, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his government was inclined to vote for it.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris telephoned his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna to make the request, said government sources.

Peiris said Colombo hoped that India will assess its request favourably in view of the 'excellent bilateral relations' between the two countries.

Krishna alluded to strong sentiments expressed by various parties over the issue in Indian parliament and said the two sides will remain engaged over it. He did not give any commitment.

Sri Lanka is bitterly opposed to the US-sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling on Colombo to address issues of alleged human rights violations during its civil war that ended in 2009.

According to The New York Times, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is mobilising support from leaders in Asia, Africa and Latin America to fight the resolution.

Peiris called the resolution 'strikingly divisive and polarizing'.

In New Delhi, amid pressure from coalition ally DMK, Manmohan Singh reiterated in parliament that India was inclined to vote for the resolution over Sri Lanka's 'war crimes' and hoped it will ensure the Tamil community 'equality, justice and self-respect'.

'As regards the issue of a draft resolution initiated by the US at the ongoing 19th Session of HRC in Geneva, we do not yet have the final text of the resolution,' Manmohan Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

'However, I may assure the House that we are inclined to vote in favour of a resolution,' he said. He made a similar statement in the Lok Sabha Monday.

AIADMK members, however, demanded that the prime minister commit himself to take up the issue of 'war crimes' by Sri Lankan military against Tamil civilians when the Tamil Tigers were crushed in 2009.

Four amendments were moved by AIADMK and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The AIADMK insisted on voting even as it was in a minority on the issue as the DMK was supporting government.

The amendments were defeated with 84 of the 94 members present voting for the government after members from the Left and NDA walked out.

India's move towards voting against Sri Lanka has come in for sharp criticism in the Sri Lankan media.

'India continues to blow hot and cold about the US resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva,' the Island said in an editorial.

'It was only the other day that the Indian government made it very clear that it was opposed to any country-specific resolution at the UNHRC,' it said.

While berating New Delhi for 'running with the hare and hunting with the hounds', the daily praised Tamil weekly 'Thuglak' editor and MP Cho S. Ramaswamy.

'Ramaswamy has rightly pointed out that in moving the anti-Sri Lanka resolution, the US has not been driven by any love for human rights,' the daily said.

Ramaswamy, it said, had raised a pertinent question. 'Suppose the US or some other country sponsors a similar resolution tomorrow on Kashmir. Are we going to honour it?'

The Daily Mirror said the Indian decision 'has seriously impeded the country's efforts to defeat the resolution' in Geneva.

It said the Indian decision had sent a message to those countries which were on the fence. 'Hence it could erode Sri Lanka's vote base'.

©Indo-Asian News Service

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