A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk attends a protest outside the Indian High Commission in Colombo on Wednesday. The demonstration was against attacks on Sri Lankans visiting the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sri Lankan authorities have warned tour operators against sending pilgrims to Tamil Nadu following a spate of racial attacks. Photo: AFP
India promised Wednesday to push for a “strong” UN resolution urging Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes, a day after the issue caused a split in the ruling coalition.
The US is drafting a resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva which is expected to be voted on Thursday and is bound to anger Colombo.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said India would propose amendments to the draft resolution being negotiated, but he denied that India was trying to water it down.
“India’s position has always been and remains that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation,” Chidambaram said.
India’s ruling coalition was rocked on Tuesday by the resignation of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) from Tamil Nadu state, which accused the government of being too soft and demanded the resolution refer to the “genocide” of ethnic Tamils.
Sri Lanka has denied that its forces killed civilians and has resisted calls from the UN and Western powers for an independent international investigation into the conduct of its army.
Sri Lanka’s top general, who led the campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels, said Tuesday the government should accept a probe but he rejected any suggestion of genocide.
The country has lodged a complaint with India and warned its pilgrims against travelling to Tamil Nadu because of repeated physical attacks against them.
India risks a further worsening in relations with its neighbor over the UNHRC resolution.
In another move likely to deepen the discord, Chidambaram stressed that the Indian government was consulting other parties about a parliamentary resolution which would also call on Sri Lanka to investigate the alleged war crimes.
The DMK pullout, which rattled markets, has fired speculation that the government that relies on the support of powerful regional parties to stay in power could call early elections, possibly as early as November.