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British All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils demand international accountability and self-determination for Tamils

Ahead of Sri Lanka’s 75th Independence Day, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) has issued a statement expressing solidarity with Eelam Tamils who are boycotting celebration and instead taking to the streets to demand an end to militarisation; the continued lack of accountability for the genocide they suffered; and to demand a political solution based on the principle of self-determination.

“For 75 years, successive Sri Lankan governments have prioritised pandering to Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism over rational and equitable governance and policy making, perpetually plunging the island into instability, economic hardship and ethnic conflict” the statement notes.

Eelam Tamils, who have long rejected Sri Lanka’s Independence Day, have planned protests and hartals across the North-East tomorrow as the state has failed to achieve a lasting political solution for Tamils. 

Accountability for genocide

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The statement maintains that this pandering has led to the island's economic ruin and lays behind the genocide Tamils suffered. The statement urges the British government and international partners to ensure an international accountability mechanism for the mass atrocities committed.

Whilst a definitive account of the Tamils killed during the final phase of the armed conflict has not been established, the International Truth and Justice Project has estimated that this figure could be as high as 169,796.


Ending militarisation

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Commenting on the continued military occupation of the Tamil homeland, the APPGT highlights that “the Sri Lankan army remains nearly double the size of that of the United Kingdom and permeates into civilian life, as the military continues to survey, harass and intimidate Tamil people, whilst also excluding Tamils from the economy, continuing land grabs and destroying Tamil places of worship”.

The statement also raises concerns over the continued harassment of peaceful demonstrators by Sri Lankan forces. In particular, it highlights the plight of Tamil mothers of the disappeared, who “continue to protest to find out about the whereabouts of their loved ones”.

Earlier this month, Sri Lankan minister Neel Bandaranaike Hapuhinna, confirmed that Rs. 200 million has been allocated for the celebrations taking place in the capital, Colombo, tomorrow although it continues to grapple with an economic crisis. Many Sri Lankans are experiencing difficulties buying basic necessities.

This occurs as the state “continues to oppress the Tamils in the North East, who are still dealing with enforced disappearances, land grabs, and other human rights issues disproportionately affecting them”.



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Stressing the need to meet Tamil aspirations for self-determination, the APPGT notes their approval of the recent meeting of the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs with leaders of Tamil and Muslim political party leaders and calls on the international community to meet Tamil demands.

They highlight that Article 1 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Sri Lanka is a party, enshrines the principle of self-determination.

The statement concludes by urging the British government “to ensure that our bilateral relations with Sri Lanka are tied to Sri Lanka's delivery on the aforementioned”.

Read the full statement here.

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