ISSN 2330-717X

Bangladesh To Support Sri Lanka In UNHRC, Says Lankan Foreign Secretary

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Commitment voiced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself, he said

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has indicated that her country will support Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) where it is going to face a hostile resolution on its human rights record, next week.  

According to Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Adm. Prof. Jayanath Colombage, Shiekh Hasina told the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa: “Bangladesh will always be with Sri Lanka. It will continue, I assure you.”

Hasina then went on to say that Bangladesh “will never take the side of terrorists and will always be with the victims of terror.”

Touching upon the need to think of the region rather than confine oneself to narrow national interests, Hasina said: “Do not think about your own country. Think of the region.”

Commenting on it, Adm. Prof. Colombage said:  “These are powerful words from an Asian leader. We Sri Lankans are very happy.”  

Sources in Dhaka said that India is also likely to support Sri Lanka in the UNHRC. Earlier, Lankan Foreign Secretary Colombage had said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told the Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a phone conversation:  “India will not do any injustice to Sri Lanka.”

This is interpreted by some in Colombo as a sign support, though India is still to reveal its definitive stand. However, the general expectation has been that India will abstain.

Sources said that given the near-certainty of the resolution being carried, it does not matter if India supports or opposes Sri Lanka and that abstention may be a safe way out of a sticky situation.       

Earlier, India had mildly criticized Sri Lanka in the UNHRC. Its envoy Indra Mani Pandey had said that India is committed to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka as well as ensuring justice to the Tamils and that it would not do to fulfil one to the exclusion of the other. He said that the Tamil question can be solved through devolution of power to the provinces as per the 13 th.Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution (which stemmed from the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987) and sought its implementation. Since Sri Lanka was believed to be toying with the idea of doing away with the 13A,  the speculation was that India would remain neutral by abstaining from voting in the UNHRC.

The Bangladeshi envoy had chosen not to speak, giving the impression that Dhaka might follow New Delhi and abstain.

Rajapaksa sought Bangladesh’s Support: Joint Communique

The Joint Communique issued at the end of the visit of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to Bangladesh on Saturday, speaks mainly of economic cooperation and the need to implement MoUs expeditiously. But it also says that Prime Minister Rajapaksa sought Bangladesh’s support in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) where Sri Lanka is to face a hostile resolution next week.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa thanked Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Government of Bangladesh for their steadfast support in combating terrorism in Sri Lanka, and in this context, for extending support to Sri Lanka at international fora, including the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and other United Nations bodies and international organizations.

Rajapaksa expressed the hope that Bangladesh will continue to stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka at the ongoing 46th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva, the Joint Communique said.

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P. K. Balachandran

P. K. Balachandran is a senior Indian journalist working in Sri Lanka for local and international media and has been writing on South Asian issues for the past 21 years.

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