Sri Lanka leader releases Indian fishermen after U.N. vote

COLOMBO Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:49am EDT

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo November 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's president ordered the release on Friday of 98 Indian fishermen detained for poaching as a "goodwill gesture" after New Delhi abstained in a vote on a U.N. resolution that approved an international inquiry into alleged war crimes on the island.

India, Sri Lanka's largest trade partner, backed two prior resolutions, but on Thursday unexpectedly took a neutral stand on the demand for a probe into actions by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels during the 26-year conflict that ended in 2009.

"The president ordered the release of all Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture," Mohan Samaranayaka, a spokesman for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told Reuters.

A total of 23 states voted in favour of the U.S.-led resolution, 12 against and 12 abstained. Among those who voted against were China and Pakistan, while India withheld its vote over concerns that the investigation would be "intrusive".

Sri Lanka says poaching and illegal fishing by Indian fishermen depletes the catches of its own fishermen. The arrests have caused friction with India's southern state of Tamil Nadu and become a regional issue in campaigning for an Indian general election that starts on April 7.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Ron Popeski)

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Comments (2)
Antany-Peter wrote:
As usual the Rajapaksa regime and its funded media are fooling the people by talking about the UNHRC votes that many countries abstain from voting or voted against the resolution. The truth is the efforts of the Rajapaksa regime have no bearing on the final outcome. The reality is 23 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 12 against and 12 abstained from voting. The top United Nations rights body has approved an international war crimes inquiry into alleged crimes committed by both sides during Sri Lanka’s civil war. The question is what is next? Let’s not exalt the foolish regime’s useless efforts, but question the foolish regime how it is going to handle the next step. As I predicted the momentum has started in favour of the West; the US backed UNHRC resolution would lead to a bloody disaster in the Indian Ocean. I really don’t think the Rajapaksa brothers can handle it from now on. If they do it will be the greatest miracle in the 21st century. The West has been ruling the world for the last 700 years; its knowledge and power are beyond the comprehension of the Sinhalese, Tamils, Indian and Chinese leaders. The West had defeated Germany, Japan, and almost Russia as well. Therefore, Sinhalese, Tamils, Indians and Chinese really can’t predict all of the West’s tricks in the future. Just wait and see how the West is going to spin the heads of Sinhalese, Tamils, Indians and Chinese through the resolution. Again the Sri Lankans will suffer more than the others due to the foolishness of the Rajapaksa regime. Sri Lankans are very unfortunate people in Asia, yet the Rajapaksas are fooling their own people as they are the greatest leaders of all time in the wonder of Asia.

Mar 29, 2014 5:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sumith321 wrote:
Release all the tamils in Sri Lanka and ask them to move to Tamil Nadu. Their homeland

Mar 30, 2014 6:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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