International Relations

India calls on Sri Lanka to honour its obligations towards Tamil aspirations

  • India has voiced worry over Sri Lanka’s poor progress in meeting its obligations to address the aspirations of the Tamil people.
  • The envoy of India at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva emphasised the lack of development.

Tamil issue in Sri Lanka

  • Violent persecution of the Tamil population erupted in Sri Lanka in the form of anti-Tamil pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981, and 1983.
  • Over 13 years after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, which killed and disappeared tens of thousands of civilians, survivors continue to demand justice and accountability for war crimes.
  • Human rights activists in Sri Lanka have regularly expressed worries about the country’s ongoing militarization, particularly in the Tamil-majority north and east, as well as repression and a narrowing space for dissent in the post-war years.

Why are we debating this?

  • Human Rights and Reconciliation: Despite the end of the war, the country still faces hurdles in reconciling ethnic tensions and maintaining human rights protection.
  • Economic Crisis: In addition to its unresolved conflict, Sri Lanka has been hit by a severe economic crisis that began last year, putting a large percentage of its population at risk. Many households have experienced greater poverty and food insecurity as a result of the crisis.

Concerns of the United Nations Human Rights Council

  • Political and Democratic changes: The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasised the failure to execute political and democratic changes even a year after a large protest movement.
  • Food Insecurity: According to the UN Human Rights Council, nearly 37% of households in Sri Lanka endure acute food insecurity, demonstrating the severity of the economic issues.
  • Delays in holding local government elections and reconstituting Provincial Councils have hampered citizens’ political involvement and freedom of expression.
  • Land Acquisition: A UN official expressed concern about rising tensions in Sri Lanka’s north and east as a result of land acquisition for military installations, conservation efforts at Hindu and Muslim shrines, and forestry protection.

India’s Position

  • Power Devolution: India reiterated its support for the Tamil community’s aspirations for equality, justice, dignity, and peace.
  • It also emphasised its commitment to Sri Lanka’s unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty by enacting the 13th Amendment.

The UN Review and Sri Lanka’s Reaction

  • The UN Human Rights Council is currently examining Sri Lanka’s pledges, and no resolution will be voted on during this session.
  • While recognising Sri Lanka’s initiatives in truth-seeking and reconciliation, the High Commissioner’s report emphasised the necessity for immediate confidence-building measures in order to achieve real reconciliation and transitional justice.
  • The Sri Lankan government dismissed the report, calling prior UN Security Council decisions intrusive and divisive.

@the end

  • India’s demand that Sri Lanka execute its obligations to satisfy Tamil aspirations underscores persistent worries about the country’s progress on reconciliation and human rights.
  • The economic crisis and political reform delays have exacerbated the situation, prompting substantial steps to foster genuine reconciliation and transitional justice.
  • The UN Human Rights Council review serves as an essential platform for assessing Sri Lanka’s actions in this area.
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