Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Admiral Jayanath Colambage has confirmed that the government of India has assured Sri Lanka of its support at the UN Human Rights Council where a resolution will come up for vote next week urging Colombo to make good on its pledges to deal with war time atrocities.
The Media Center for National Development tweeted on Wednesday that Admiral Colambage had “confirmed” that India had assured Colombo of its support to “upkeep and protect the territorial sovereignty of Sri Lanka” during the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
“Being the super power that they are, Sri Lanka greatly appreciates their position,” the foreign secretary was quoted as saying. It was not clear where the Foreign Secretary was making these remarks.
Previously Admiral Colambage pleaded with New Delhi for support at the Council, where the UK is leading an effort on a Sri Lanka resolution that will set up an international evidence gathering project to serve future prosecutions of war crimes and human rights abuses committed in Sri Lanka. India should not abandon Sri Lanka at the UNHRC Colambage said in an interview with the Hindu newspaper. In the same interview Colambage also emphasized that the 13th amendment to the constitution designed by New Delhi as a power sharing agreement to end the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka in 1987 was outdated while urging the Indian Government to ‘stop harping’ on 13A.
The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has made no secret of its intention to repeal the 13th amendment, delaying elections for the provincial councils and submitting legislative proposals to amend the provincial councils act. However in what was seen as a fresh move to appease New Delhi, President Rajapaksa this week ordered officials to conduct the provincial polls immediately if necessary by withdrawing amendments proposed to the act that governs the PCs. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also had a much publicized telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week where the duo pledged to cooperate on multilateral issues.
There was no immediate statement confirming the Foreign Secretary’s remarks from the Indian Government. India has remained non-communal so far publicly on the issue of the Sri Lanka resolution coming up at the UNHRC. However in a statement to the Council at the beginning of the UNHRC session, the representative for New Delhi said that Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity was intrinsically tied to meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people and expressed concern about Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights situation as highlighted in UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s report.
In 2012 and 2013 New Delhi voted in favour of UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka when then President Mahinda Rajapaksa repeatedly reneged on promises made to the Indian government and the international community to offer meaningful devolution and a political settlement for the Tamil people after the end of the war with the LTTE. India strongly supported the GoSL push to defeat the Tamil Tigers in 2009, on the basis that the Rajapaksa government would negotiate a peaceful political deal with the country’s Tamil leadership once the fighting ended. In 2014 India abstained from voting on the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka. (By Janakie Mediwake)