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India abstains from UNSC vote on Syria

By The Assam Tribune

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 5 (IANS): India has abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Syria, which was blocked by Russia and China using their veto power.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Puri, announcing the abstention, said the resolution before the Security Council "does not accommodate our concerns about threat of sanctions."

"It does not condemn the violence perpetrated by the Syrian opposition. Nor does it place any responsibility on the opposition to abjure violence and engage with the Syrian authorities for redressal of their grievances through a peaceful political process," he said, explaining India's decision to keep away from the vote.

Prepared by the European members of the UN Security Council and supported by the US, the resolution stipulated that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime should face the possibility of tough sanctions if it fails to stop its crackdown on opposition within 30 days of the adoption of the resolution.

The resolution was rejected late Tuesday by a 9-2 vote, with four abstentions, including India.

"India remains concerned at the unfolding events in Syria that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and security force personnel. We deplore all violence irrespective of who its perpetrators are," Puri said.

He said India recognised the responsibility of all states to respect the fundamental rights of their people, address their legitimate aspirations and respond to their grievances through administrative, political, economic and other measures.

"At the same time, states also have the obligation to protect their citizens from armed groups and militants. While the right of the people to protest peacefully is to be respected, states cannot but take appropriate action when militant groups, heavily armed, resort to violence against state authority and infrastructure," Puri said.

Pointing to the complexity of ground realities in Syria, Puri said India believed engaging Syria in a collaborative and constructive dialogue and partnership was the only pragmatic and productive way forward.

India has, in both bilateral engagements and through the IBSA initiative, urged the Syrian government to exercise restraint, abjure violence and pay heed to the aspirations of their people, he added.

Asking the international community to give time and space for the Syrian government to implement the far-reaching reform measures announced by them, Puri said: "For this, it is also necessary that the opposition forces in Syria give up the path of armed insurrection and engage constructively with the authorities."

India firmly believed that the actions of the international community should facilitate an engagement of the Syrian government and the opposition in a Syrian-led inclusive political process and not complicate the situation by threats of sanctions and regime change, he added.

The UN says over 2,000 people have died since the start of the protests in March.

On Sep 21, US President Barack Obama urged the Security Council to impose new sanctions against Syria over its crackdown on opposition protesters.

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