A U.N. resolution on war crimes perpetrated during Sri Lanka’s civil war with ethnic Tamil rebels has threatened the stability of India’s coalition government as a key regional ally pulled out of the alliance Tuesday in protest against New Delhi’s position on the resolution.
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against Sri Lanka government in the southern Indian city of Chennai on March 4, 2013
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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), based in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, urged India’s Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to introduce a stronger language into the resolution, including the use of the word “genocide,” to denote the alleged atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan forces against Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil population.
DMK’s demands also include that the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution lead to the formation of an international inquiry into the alleged war crimes and that the Indian government pass a resolution in the parliament condemning the war crimes.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi said the government “did not even consider” the amendments (to the resolution) proposed by the party, at a press conference in Tamil Nadu’s capital city, Chennai.
“So, a situation has arisen where the alliance will not benefit Eelam Tamils (Tamils living in Sri Lanka) in any way. Despite this, if the DMK continues in the Union government, it will be a grave injustice. So, the DMK has decided to pull out of the government and the UPA,” Karunanidhi was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
However, the DMK chief added that his party would reconsider its decision if the government heeds to its demand and adopts a resolution in the parliament, condemning the Sri Lankan government for alleged war crimes and genocide, the report said.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who met Karunanidhi Monday night, said there was no crisis and the “government is absolutely stable, it will stay in power,” the Hindustan Times reported.
Chidambaram said the government was deciding its position on the U.N. vote and was consulting its allies on a resolution by the Indian parliament.
The government, which needs the support of 271 MPs to stay in power, continues to enjoy the support of at least 280 MPs. Elections are due next year.
The issue of alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government in the final five months of its quarter century old civil war against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) militants, which ended in 2009, has long presented a tricky situation for the Indian government as it needs to balance the desire for close ties with the neighboring nation, while accommodating the demands of Indian Tamils.