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Param: M’sia will back Sri Lanka in UN vote

 | March 22, 2012

The former UN special rapporteur believes it is a situation of scratching each other’s back.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will support Sri Lanka and vote against the United Nations resolution seeking investigations into human rights abuses in the last phase of that country’s 29-year civil war, according to former UN special rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy.

He told FMT that he reached his conclusion after discussing the matter with senior officials of the Foreign Ministry.

“It’s quite common among developing countries to try to support each other without understanding the issues correctly,” he said.

“I’m personally disappointed with the Malaysian government on this matter. Senior officials of the Foreign Ministry recently indicated in conversations with me that the Malaysian delegate will vote against the resolution.”

However, he also said that the resolution, even if passed this Friday at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, would not lead to any significant development in attempts to bring closure to the conflict that pitted Tamil rebels against the Sri Lankan army.

“Nothing will come of it,” he said. “It’s weak resolution. And knowing how Sri Lanka has been conducting itself on human rights issues in the past, it will ignore it.”

He said some diplomats and delegates attending the Geneva session had told him that the government in Colombo had sent a strong team of lobbyists to persuade delegates from “friendly nations” such as Malaysia to vote against the resolution.

Malaysia is one of the 47 members of the Council. The resolution, moved by the United States, calls on Colombo to probe atrocities allegedly committed by both government troops and Tamil guerrillas.

Explaining why Malaysia would support Colombo, Param said Putrajaya was possibly seeking Sri Lanka’s support in other UN resolutions.

“It’s a situation where I scratch your back and you scratch mine,” he said.

According to him, the only option for those intending to drag Sri Lankan before an international tribunal on human rights was to go through the UN Security Council.

Horse trading

He described the Human Right Council’s resolution as a “weak first step”, adding that China and Russia might veto it even if it ended up going to the Security Council.

“I saw the draft copy of the resolution late last night. It’s a weak one and it might be diluted further before the resolution is put for voting at the end of this week.

“A lot of horse trading is going on there and Sri Lanka will likely succeed.”

Param urged Malaysian-based Indian NGOs and other parties supporting the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils to look into reconciliation efforts.

“They should look into this option seriously,” he said. “They must find ways in which the international community can help the Sri Lankans rebuild their lives and their country.”

He also called for more studies to determine the views of the Sri Lankan people on what needs to be done to deal with the aftermath of the war.

“A lot has been said by groups that sympathise with the Tamils,” he said, “but there hasn’t been much of a concerted effort to listen to and understand the people directly affected by the conflict.

“We must be fair to all parties and not just accuse Sri Lankan security forces of violating human rights. There are evidences of violations committed by LTTE, especially toward end of the conflict.”

The LTTE, short for Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, was the main guerrilla force championing the the Tamil cause during the war.

As many as 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the last months of the conflict, which ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

Also read:

Back UN resolution on Sri Lanka, govt told


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