Human rights in Sri Lanka impact Indian politics

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government received a blow Tuesday when a regional party withdrew from the ruling coalition, complaining the government was being too soft on abuses committed during Sri Lanka's defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

By Udayan Namboodiri for Khabar South Asia in New Delhi

March 22, 2013
A larger | smaller | reset <span class="translation_missing">en_GB, articles, print</span> 19 comments

The human rights issues that arose during Sri Lanka's 2009 military action against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have cast a shadow over the future of Manmohan Singh government.

  • Dravida Munnetara Kazhagam (DMK) leader Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi (left) speaks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting in Chennai on January 3rd, 2011. The DMK withdrew its support from Singh's coalition government Tuesday (March 19th). [Indian Press Information Bureau handout/B. M. Meena/AFP]

    Dravida Munnetara Kazhagam (DMK) leader Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi (left) speaks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting in Chennai on January 3rd, 2011. The DMK withdrew its support from Singh's coalition government Tuesday (March 19th). [Indian Press Information Bureau handout/B. M. Meena/AFP]

On Tuesday (March 19th), the Dravida Munnetara Kazhagam (DMK), the second-largest party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance, withdrew its support, weakening the Prime Minister's government coalition. Five cabinet ministers submitted their resignations.

According to the BBC, the party had wanted the Indian government to pass a parliamentary resolution condemning the Sri Lanka Army for atrocities, and to push for stronger language in an upcoming UN resolution, including the term genocide.

Under the resolution, the UN Human Rights Council would call on Colombo to launch an independent probe into allegations that over 40,000 people were killed – including many civilians – as the Sri Lankan Army overran LTTE-held areas in the last stages of the civil war.

India backed a 2012 effort at passing such a resolution and has been supportive of the current one as well, former Indian Ambassador G. Parthasarathy told Khabar South Asia.

"This time too New Delhi was in favour of a condemnation, but had wanted a slightly diluted text," he explained. "For instance, India was against economic sanctions and wanted to avoid strong language as a priority was placed on improving relations with Colombo."

Opposition won't join criticism of government

While the DMK chides the Singh government for not being critical enough of Sri Lanka, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) argues that the party is overstating the case.

"The final crackdown on the terrorist group LTTE indeed caused a lot of collateral damage," BJP national secretary Sheshadri Chari told Khabar. "But to say there was genocide is a bit too much because 65% of Sri Lanka's Tamil population was outside the war zone and the country's government did not touch them. At any rate, taking Indo-Sri Lanka relations forward should be the objective."

He ruled out the possibility of the BJP moving a 'no confidence resolution' in Parliament to topple the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. "This issue does not have the support of either the people of Tamil Nadu or of India," he told Khabar.

But recently resigned DMK minister T.R. Baalu justified his party's stand. "The DMK's resignation has been backed by the wishes of millions of Tamil-speaking people not only in India and Sri Lanka but all over the world. We had no option but resign," he told reporters.

Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party President and an active campaigner against the LTTE, told Khabar, "The DMK was not clear about its objectives. Do they want another spell of insurgency in Sri Lanka or is it in favour of better relations between the ethnic Tamils and majority Sinhalas?"

Reduced seat strength in parliament

The DMK, which was in power in Tamil Nadu throughout the 138-day-long final fight in Sri Lanka, held 18 seats in the Lok Sabha. Its exit has reduced the seat strength of the UPA to 230 in the 543-strong House.

To get legislation passed between now and the next general election – scheduled for April or May 2014 – the government will need outside support. The two likely biggest sources are the Samajwadi Party (22) and Bahujan Samaj Party (21).

R. Raghunatha of The Hindu newspaper told Khabar, "The DMK's withdrawal will make no difference to the UPA because no other party is confident of facing an early election."

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram denied that the UPA government was facing dissolution. "The government will complete its full term with the support of secular parties outside the present coalition," he told reporters.

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Reader Comments
  • kamalApril 15, 2013 @ 12:04:14AM

    No one will not interfear is sri lanka government did the correct measure to tamils. Because of this there can be LTTE upriseing again. I am not tolking about a seperate state. The war is over. We have to support the tamils to come to normal unless doing the other way round. Becauseof this so call leaders world will get a different openion about the sinhalese people.

  • R.KrishnamurthiApril 14, 2013 @ 10:04:54AM

    Tamil race is targetted in SriLanka. Singala people think that Sri Lanka belongs to them only. But the truth is SriLanka belongs to Tamils also. Instead of finding a suitable arrangement for Tamils and Singhalese the situation could not improve. Tamilians in Tamilnadu and the Tamil speaking people all over world are worrying about the tamils in SriLanka. The merciless killing of Tamils to over Lakhs is a cruelty done to the Tamil race. The entire world people should get together to punish the president Rajapaksha.

  • gwitharanaApril 13, 2013 @ 10:04:40PM

    If Tamil Nadu politicians are really interested in sri Lankan Tamils, They should not encourage tamil nadu fishermen to encroach sri lankan waters for fishing depriving poor jaffna tamil fishermen of their lively hood, sri lankan govt has so far failed to ensure thier fisherman right to do fishing in their own waters, as big brother India is silence on the issue. A Simple test for Tamil Nadu politicains to show their love for Sri Lankan Tamils is to stop tamil nadu fishermen encroaching sri lankan waters. This is third garde politics. They are tring to outsmart each other by arousing Tamil nationalism. if there was genicide why waited for 4 years. only gullibles will believe these nuts.

  • WijeyApril 12, 2013 @ 05:04:03AM

    Dear Wilson, You say the main issue between Sinhalese and the Tamils is the Language barrier. Majorarty of Muslims speak good Sinhala and Muslims and Sinhalese have had the best of repport for a very long period. The next 30 year war is between these two races. End of Sri Lanka. .

  • manokaran,mApril 11, 2013 @ 06:04:35AM

    will the persons supporting srilankan government give assurance for the life of tamilians ,there,if possible why the srilankan refugees in india are not returning back to their homeland.because there is no safty for them,.prabakaran act as a good solider and not as a good leader.he himself killed lot of his people,there is a proverb in tamil "kathi eaduthvan kathiyal saavan"that means aperson who handles knife to kill will be killed by knife,another proverb in tamil says "atta kadichy,matta kadichu kadachyil l manusanay kadicha matthiri means that wild animals first,kill goat,thencow and at last human,like that hestarted to kill his own fighters,killed lankan leaders and at last our leader rajiv gandhi,any how the loss of tamil people was too much,this could be avoided if they followed americaaaan style to kill binladen

  • sridharApril 10, 2013 @ 07:04:17AM

    no comment...................

  • GaneshApril 6, 2013 @ 09:04:21PM

    Wilson senasingha explained everything is very correct ........ Tks Dear Wilson ........

  • raviApril 6, 2013 @ 02:04:30AM

    we must workhard .

  • sathyanApril 5, 2013 @ 04:04:21AM

    veelnthom pudhainthom vidhaigalanom please students remember do it.

  • sadham hussainApril 5, 2013 @ 03:04:15AM

    tamilnadu politicions have enough problem to sort out with their people

  • VinoApril 4, 2013 @ 09:04:51AM

    Nice

  • madhavanMarch 31, 2013 @ 02:03:28AM

    This is not a solution.need more justice for tamil people

  • sarath surasenaMarch 30, 2013 @ 10:03:18PM

    Tamil nadu politicians have enough problems to sort out with their people, we know very well about poor and suffering people in tamil nadu. we Srilankens who knows how we sufferd for a period of 30 years with terrorism. today we live peacefully. now we feel the freedom, we see the development, we are happy. why should we bother about Tamilnadu politicians?let this to be handle by the prasident.he is for that.

  • siri mutukumaranaMarch 27, 2013 @ 08:03:25PM

    v useful update for the sri lankan academia . Thanks for the balanced astatements.

  • SIRIMEVANMarch 25, 2013 @ 07:03:53AM

    karunanidi is not a politician.he is uneducated person..LTTE KILLED RAJI V GANDI..BUT INDIA DID NOT ANY ACTON .ONLY PRESIDENT RAJAPASHA PANISED PRABAKARAN. WE LOVED INDIAN PEOPLE.THEY ARE OUR RELATIVES.OUR LOARD BUDDA BORN IN INDIA. SRI LANKA AND INDIA IS CLOSE BROTHERS. WE ARE DISSAPOINTING ABT IAMILNADU UN EDUCTED POLITICIANS.

  • Wilson SenasingheMarch 24, 2013 @ 01:03:50PM

    There are no friends or enemies in politics. Once a party or an individual comes to power or gain a seat, his utmost desire is to keep it forever in Asian Politics.Next is to handover to his son or daughter. There are so many tactics employed by these politicians to reach that goal. Weapons like, Racism, Ethnic Conflicts, Relgions are the main tools in their armoury, In Sri Lanka those who cross over to Government Side forgetting the voters who returned them, from the opposition gets portfolios and and many luxuries to improve tere standard of living. There is a Bribery Act in force in Sri Lanka, but offering and accepting a ministerial pos to crossover is not covered by the Bribery Act. I gave those details to show how the Tahil Nadu Politicians Exists. There food is ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Really there is no such thing exists in Sri Lanka. No Tamil party has shown or given a list of Rights they have been denied just because they are Tamils. This Genocide Tales and others are just a fiction tailor made to catch votes in Sri Lanka and in Tamil Nadu too. Now the Sinhalese are learning Tamil and once both major communities can exchange their views, Politicians may have to go to Planet in another Galaxy as there is no chance use the old slogans. Those who in Tamil Nadu joined Cngress is, if not classified as Bribery it is so close to it. They left to sow the illness to catch the votes in the next General election. My dear Tamil Friends There are no Statesman today.

  • nikeshMarch 23, 2013 @ 04:03:06AM

    nice

  • akila sandun pereraMarch 23, 2013 @ 03:03:19AM

    we are srilankans people.we are powerfull more than indians peoples,

  • شاہدالاسلامMarch 21, 2013 @ 11:03:14PM

    Since statistically the government has majority therefore all the analysis and talk about mid-term election is nothing but illogical. This is why the largest opposition party Bhartiya Janata Party, which always try to defeat the government on every issue, has announced that it will not bring a no-confidence motion.

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