On Tuesday, India abstained from a crucial vote at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Sri Lanka’s rights record, though India called on Sri Lanka to carry forward the reconciliation process and address the aspirations of the Tamil minority in the country.
The 47-member UNHRC adopted a resolution giving UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet the power to collect and preserve evidence of crimes related to Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended in 2009 .
UNHRC is sponsored by a group of countries that includes the UK, Germany and Canada. The number of countries which voted for the resolution that was very critical of Sri Lanka’s failure to address human rights violations that occurred during the civil war counted to 22. The resolution also emphasised on the fact that the human rights situation has deteriorated under the Rajapaksa Government and ethnic and religious minorities are facing problems.
Countries, including Bangladesh, China and Pakistan, voted against the resolution taking the total votes against the resolution to 11, while 14 countries, including India, Indonesia, Japan and Nepal, abstained from voting.
Pawankumar Badhe, first secretary at India’s permanent mission in Geneva, said New Delhi believes states have the primary responsibility for protecting human rights before the voting on the resolution on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”.
“We would urge the government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected,” Badhe added.
“We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka’s progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives,” he added.
While the Sri Lankan government reached out to India in order to request to vote against the resolution at the UNHRC. Though, India has been annoyed with Colombo for revocation and amendment on a 2019 tripartite India-Japan-Sri Lanka agreement for developing the East Container Terminal at Colombo port.
The Sri Lankan government had to scrap off the deal in February following pressure from labour unions and instead offered to develop the West Container Terminal in place of East Container Terminal at Colombo port.
Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Dinesh Gunawardena in a tweet, appreciated “the support shown at Geneva” by countries such as India and Japan for abstainment, and in another tweet, he extended a “very warm Thank You for solid support” shown by countries that voted against the resolution of “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”.