DMK, allies hit out at Centre on India’s abstention from UNHRC vote on Lanka

DMK chief Stalin and MDMK leader Vaiko call it ‘unpardonable betrayal’ of Eelam Tamils

The UNHRC’s 46th regular session sought to fix accountability for war crimes and rights violations by Sri Lankan authorities.

India’s abstention from voting on the resolution against Sri Lanka – a tightrope for the Centre given the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu – at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been flayed by Opposition parties in the state.

The DMK and its allies, including Vaiko-led MDMK, have termed New Delhi’s stance as “an unpardonable betrayal” of the Eelam Tamils.

“The Indian representative, without taking part in voting, walked out. This is an unpardonable, huge betrayal of Eelam Tamils by the Indian government,” DMK chief MK Stalin said.

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“This is a complete betrayal done by the Indian government on the Sri Lankan Tamils. Only because of elections in Tamil Nadu, the Indian government walked out of the voting, otherwise they would have voted in favour of Sri Lanka. I condemn the manner in which the Indian government has conducted itself,” Vaiko said on Tuesday (March 23).

“What happened in Sri Lanka was not a civil war but genocide. As many as 1.37 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils were murdered. Schools and hospitals were bombed. In 2009, the Sri Lankan government had starved the Tamils to death,” said Vaiko.

However, AIADMK leader Kovai Sathyan said the door is still open to put pressure on the UNHRC to take it up again. “We’ll definitely pressure the Centre to act on the same,” he said.

India on March 23 abstained from voting on the contentious resolution at the UNHRC that sought to fix accountability for war crimes and rights violations by Sri Lankan authorities. New Delhi in the past has twice supported the resolution. The resolution, submitted by the core group of the UK, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia as main sponsors, was approved by 22 in favour, 11 against and 14 abstentions during the UNHRC’s 46th regular session.

Russia, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh voted against the resolution on the grounds that it was highly politicized and undermined Colombo’s sovereignty. Nepal, like India, abstained.

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“India supports the call by the international community for the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments on the devolution of political authority, including through the early holding of elections for provincial councils and to ensure that all provincial councils are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. At the same time, we believe that the work of OHCHR should be in conformity with mandate given by the relevant,” said a statement from India before the vote.

New Delhi cited two factors for its abstention. “One is our support to the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, dignity and peace. The other is in ensuring the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka’s progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives,” stated Indian permanent mission’s First Secretary.