COLOMBO: Despite mounting pressure from Tamil Nadu on New Delhi to vote for the US resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Sri Lankans are expecting India to support their country as a matter of “principle,” says Dr Rajiva Wijesinha, a ruling coalition MP and former Lankan negotiator on human rights issues.
Wijesinha told Express here on Sunday that both Lanka and India were agreed that there was no room for a “country specific” resolution against Lanka or any other country, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Sri Lanka, he pointed out, would be facing the UPR in the September–October session of the United Nations HRC this year.
“India will back Lanka on principles. We only hope that India does not fall for American blandishments and the influence of the pro-American lobby,” he said.
“However, the Indians will ask Sri Lanka to move forward faster on the issues of reconciliation and a political settlement of the Tamil question, a line I too will endorse,” Wijesinha said.
Asked if New Delhi would be able to resist pressures from a vociferous Tamil Nadu to vote against Lanka, Wijesinha said that India knew that taking an extreme position would only help encourage the extremists on the Sinhalese and Tamil side in Lanka, and prove to be injurious to the final objective of bringing about Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation.
Lankans point out that India’s awareness of the danger of exacerbating differences among the ethnic groups can be seen in the statement of the Indian delegate in Geneva who said that any offer of foreign technical assistance to bring about ethnic reconciliation could create “unnecessary conceptions” about the foreign role ie: create fears of foreign interference in Lanka’s internal affairs.
The daily Ceylon Today said on Sunday that Lanka had requested India to talk to the US on its behalf to get the latter’s resolution watered down further. But Wijesinha saw no basis for this because Lanka was resolutely opposed to the very idea of a resolution.
“India and Sri Lanka agree on the principle that such resolutions are not germane to the UNHRC,” he said.
Wijesinha expected the going to be tough for Sri Lanka in the next ten days of the 19th session.
“The United States is lobbying hard, using various kinds of pressure on the members,” he said.