The Sri Lankan government has welcomed India’s abstention from voting on the US-sponsored anti-Lankan resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday. But the Tamils have received it with mixed feelings. Addressing the media at Hambantota immediately after the vote on Thursday, the Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris said the decision taken by India was ‘significant’.
“In the past two years, India had voted in favour of US resolutions, but now it has abstained because the new resolution has some shortcomings,” Peiris said.
In an obvious expression of thankfulness over the change in India’s stand, Lankan President Rajapaksa ordered the immediate release of all detained Indian fishermen, thus paving the way for talks between Lankan and Indian fishermen on the vexed question of fishing in Palk Bay and Palk Strait.
The TNA, the largest Tamil outfit, has expressed disappointment even as it said that India would continue to play a supportive role in the Tamils’ struggle to get a just peace and a just political settlement. “India’s decision to abstain was somewhat of a surprise. The TNA and the Tamil people are disappointed over the decision. India may have had its reasons to take this stand and this was stated in the Indian delegate’s speech. However, the TNA and the Tamil people believe that India would continue to play an important role in the efforts to find and secure peace and a just solution to the Tamil question in Sri Lanka,” TNA chief R Sampanthan told Express on Friday. Asked if the Tamils of Sri Lanka would become hostile to India for not supporting the resolution, Sampanthan said that they would not.
As regards the US resolution itself, Sampanthan said the TNA is “happy that it was carried well”. “We believe that it will lead to reconciliation. We hope Lanka will help in the early implementation of the points made in the resolution.’
Meanwhile, Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF), a party of Colombo Tamils, said by abstaining, India has acquired a ‘new handle’ to deal with Sri Lanka. Explaining, he said, with abstention, India would not be seen by Lanka as an ‘enemy country’ and its advice on the ethnic question would be accepted in a spirit of friendship.