India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon has made it clear to the Sri Lankan top brass that New Delhi’s stance at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in November will depend entirely on what Colombo does to improve its human rights image.
Menon’s refrain that the issues of ethnic reconciliation and political settlement of the Tamil question in Lanka are matters to be settled by Sri Lankans only can be interpreted to mean that Lanka cannot count on blind backing from India at the UNHRC, where it is expected to come under intense scrutiny.
India has a crucial role to play in the UPR because it is one of the three countries charged with the responsibility of overseeing the proceedings, the other two being Spain and Benin.
The Sri Lankan top brass and the Lankan media are under the mistaken impression that India voted against Lanka at the 19th session of the UNHRC because it had become a victim of TN politics and not because it had any grievance against Lanka. The other explanation was that India got annoyed when the leader of the Lankan delegation, Mahinda Samarasinghe, prematurely declared that India had assured support to Lanka.
New Delhi’s Grievances
Sri Lankans were not aware that New Delhi itself had grievances against the Lankan government and that the negative Indian vote was but an expression of its displeasure with Colombo.
In 2009, the Lankan government had explicitly promised to effectively implement the devolution package contained in the 13th amendment of Lanka’s own constitution. But it was not kept.