The Government of India felt anguish and pain over the Sri Lankan military’s alleged war crimes against unarmed Tamils in the 2009 war, said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in an unusually strong observation on the Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
Ms. Swaraj said India was committed to the protection of the rights of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, even as the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) appeared set to take up a crucial resolution on the issue on Friday.
“The anguish with which the members have raised the issue [of crimes committed during the war of 2009], the government associates itself with the same pain,” Ms Swaraj said.
“Our aim is to protect the interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka. You can achieve this through two means: by either doing it forcefully or through persuasion with the friendly country,” she said answering a question from D. Raja of the Communist Party of India
The Indian government, bound by domestic political compulsions, covertly helped the Sri Lankan army and navy to scour out and destroy the LTTE IN May 2009.
By the end of November 2008, the script was no longer in LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran’s hands. It was being written by the Sri Lankan forces tacitly supported by India and openly assisted by China and Pakistan.
In early 2009, India was encouraging and materially supporting the Sri Lankan government’s renewed efforts to rout the LTTE in the island’s North and East. Also “intelligence and interdiction” by the Indian Navy “starved the LTTE of supplies by the sea.”
Menon fondly remembers unpublicised regular midnight flights to Colombo with the then Indian foreign minister and current Indian President Pranab Mukherjee for briefings and discussion with President Mahinda Rajapakse and his army commander Sarath Fonseka. These visits occurred during the first five months of 2009, that is, until the military annihilation of the LTTE on May 18.
Menon justifies New Delhi’s support for Colombo’s brutal escalation of the communal war, purely on the grounds of India’s regional interests. He points out that Rajapakse had garnered political and military support for the war from China, Pakistan and “to an extent” the US. “If we stood aside,” he writes, “defending the killers of an Indian Prime Minister [Rajiv Gandhi]” it would have amounted to “abdicating a geopolitically strategic neighbour to other powers.”