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Lanka asks UN to emulate India

world Updated: Oct 14, 2007 16:29 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran
Hindustan Times
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Top Sri Lankan leader, Basil Rajapaksa, had asked the visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to emulate India and stop "policing" Sri Lanka, The Nation reported on Sunday.

The second most important man in Sri Lanka after President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told the ranking UN official, that India was not acting as the policeman of the South Asian region, but was helping Sri Lanka solve its problems. For example, India had sent food to tackle shortages in Jaffna, he said.

"We urge the UN to assist Sri Lanka and refrain from policing human rights in the country," he told Arbour.

Earlier, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) leader and Buddhist monk, Venerable Athuraliya Rathana Thero, told her that she should fight for animal rights too. "This is the ideology of Buddhism and the JHU," he said.

Charges Exaggerated

Sri Lanka's case, as presented by President Rajapaksa and others in the government, is that the country's primary task is to defeat the LTTE, which is described as "the world's most ruthless terrorist group", and that in conflict situations like the one in Sri Lanka, some human rights violations are only to be expected.

The government also contends that the international organizations are exaggerating the rights violations. Cabinet minister Rajitha Senaratne even said that Sri Lanka was being pilloried because it was economically weak, without "a big market like India and Iraq."

No punitive action

So far, Sri Lanka has been able to prevent the international community from taking any action against it, despite a consistent and high voltage campaign by international and domestic rights organisations. The European Union chose not to introduce a resolution against it at the recent Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Japan, one of Sri Lanka's principal donors, had made it clear that sanctions were not the right way to get a point across.

The US periodically expresses concern about the rights situation in the country, but the White House is not contemplating any punitive action.

India's Tacit Support

India, which wants to build strong economic ties with Sri Lanka, has never made a strident comment on the rights situation in the island, despite a past of supporting the minority Tamils, the victims of rights violations.

In fact, today, Colombo enjoys New Delhi's full support. While New Delhi is shy about trumpeting this, powerful elements in the Sri Lankan government like Basil Rajapaksa and the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, make no secret of it.