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Sri Lanka must respect rights of Tamils, India tells UNHRC

India highlighted the “legitimate aspirations” of the Tamils in Sri Lanka on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a tour to poll-bound Tamil Nadu
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 25 February 2021, 16:28 IST
Last Updated : 25 February 2021, 16:28 IST
Last Updated : 25 February 2021, 16:28 IST
Last Updated : 25 February 2021, 16:28 IST

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Sri Lanka should respect the rights of its minority Tamils, India on Thursday told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which of late once again threw the spotlight on the atrocities allegedly committed by the security forces of the island nation during the 2009 crackdown on the rebels.

“We believe that respecting the rights of the Tamil community, including through meaningful devolution, contributes directly to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka,” Indra Mani Pandey, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council. “Therefore,” he added, “we advocate that delivering on the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil community is in the best interests of Sri Lanka.”

Pandey was participating in an interactive dialogue at the UNHRC on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on Sri Lanka’s progress in investigating allegations of atrocities committed by the security forces of the island nation during the military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009.

With the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu round the corner, the government led by the BJP over the past few weeks raised its pitch over rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka, nudging Colombo to fully implement the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the Indian Ocean island nation to ensure devolution of power to the local governments in its Tamil-majority Northern and Eastern Provinces.

India highlighted the “legitimate aspirations” of the Tamils in Sri Lanka on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a tour to poll-bound Tamil Nadu. He had reaffirmed India’s steadfast support to Tamils in Sri Lanka during an earlier visit to the state.

Bachelet’s report last month noted that the failure of the Sri Lankan government to address past violations of human rights had significantly heightened the risk of such violations being repeated. The damning report highlighted the worrying trends over the past year, such as deepening impunity, increasing militarization of governmental functions, ethno-nationalist rhetoric, and intimidation of civil society.

“Nearly 12 years after the armed conflict in Sri Lanka ended, impunity for grave human rights violations and abuses by all sides is more entrenched than ever, with the current government proactively obstructing investigations and trials, and reversing the limited progress that had been previously made,” the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out.

“The assessment of the High Commissioner regarding developments nearly 12 years from the end of the conflict raises important concerns,” Pandey stated.

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Published 25 February 2021, 16:28 IST

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