The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution Thursday asking Sri Lanka to re-investigate alleged war crimes during its 26-year-long war with Tamil tigers. The U.S-sponsored resolution was backed by 24 countries while 15 countries voted against it. Eight countries chose to abstain from the voting.
Sri Lanka and its allies had strongly opposed the U.N. resolution stating that any kind of pressure from the U.N. amounts to undue interference by external forces in its internal affairs. It said the move will be counterproductive to the ongoing reconciliation process.
The conflict between Sri Lanka government and Tamil Tigers (LTTE) that spanned more than 25 years killed and injured thousands, making several thousand Sri Lankan Tamilians refugees in neighboring countries including India.
Allegations of atrocities exist against both the government forces and the Tamil tigers. According to human right groups around 40,000 civilians were killed during the final months of the war.
China supported Sri Lanka firmly and said that it is against any country putting pressure on others in the name of rights violations. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement Sri Lanka and its people were capable of dealing with their own affairs.
China's support to Sri Lanka was expected in the international circles. China had enhanced its investment and economic ties with Sri Lanka in recent years.
Meanwhile India, another regional power and Sri Lanka's neighbor, voted against Colombo. India had said till yesterday that it was yet to make up its mind on voting on the resolution. It was expected New Delhi would vote favoring the resolution, because of its domestic compulsions.
There were strong arguments in favor of Sri Lanka, but the political compulsions faced by the ruling Congress party and the complex coalition considerations forced the government to vote against its neighbor.
The conflict between the Lankan army and the Tamil tigers is an emotional issue in India as its southern states have considerable Tamil populations.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Indian Tamils have been supporting the Tamil tigers. The DMK, a major political party in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which is part of the national ruling coalition, had put tremendous pressure on the government to vote against Sri Lanka. It had even threatened to withdraw its support for the national government if New Delhi did not vote against Colombo.
Interestingly, India's neighbors like Pakistan and Bangladesh voted against the resolution and backed Sri Lanka.