Indian shadow on US resolution forced DMK's hand
By M.R. Narayan Swamy, New Delhi, March 19 : The DMK decided to quit the UPA Tuesday after it became clear that India had quietly diluted a US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC -- a la last year.
When the final -- and revised -- US draft resolution became public knowledge, DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi felt slighted because he had been pressing the UPA to take a hard line against Sri Lanka.
Despite demands in parliament, the UPA government, of which the DMK was a key partner until Tuesday, declined to say how it would vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Thursday.
India has not said if it played a role in softening the earlier US draft resolution that was highly critical of Colombo.
But human rights activists who have been campaigning against Sri Lanka have studied both versions of the US resolution to detect an Indian hand - a role New Delhi also played, but quite openly, last year.
According to Amnesty International India, the revised US resolution is much softer in the context of the overwhelming volume of fresh evidence on rights abuses that has been unearthed since the 2012 UNHRC session.
Sri Lanka is battling charges of killing or maiming thousands of Tamil civilians in the final stages of the war that vanquished the Tamil Tigers, a conflict in which New Delhi covertly backed Colombo.
But while India has shed no tears over the destruction of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), mounting evidence of atrocities committed on Tamil civilians by the military has placed New Delhi in a dilemma.
Alluding to Indian influence, rights activists say the new UNHRC resolution significantly downgrades the international community's concerns regarding human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
It has also dramatically diluted the list of Special Procedures that have requested a visit to the island nation.
Activists -- and Indian Tamil parties -- felt that the revised US resolution was a big setback for those seeking justice for victims of the Sri Lankan war.
The resolution replaces "Sri Lanka" with "each State": "Reaffirming that it is the responsibility of each State to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of its entire population."
Three new paragraphs in the revised resolution welcome Colombo's decision to hold elections in the northern province in September, to rebuild infrastructure in the former war zone, and how the Colombo-backed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission can lead to national reconciliation.
Those who have studied the US resolutions point out that some of the language in the new version mirrors what the Indian government has used in recent times on Sri Lanka.
The revised draft does away with the need for an "international" investigation into allegations against Sri Lanka and instead calls for "an independent and credible investigation".
In several respects, the revised resolution uses words like "encourages" instead of "urges" - which has a different meaning in diplomatic parlance.
Again, the word "unfettered" has been taken out from the phrase "providing unfettered access" to Sri Lanka.
Amnesty admits that the one positive aspect of the revised draft is that it makes a strong case for investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law and sets the stage for stronger action in the future.