Several British MPs and other politicians have released messages of solidarity as the Tamil nation around the world marks Tamil Genocide Remembrance day today.
See some of their messages of support below.
Stephen Timms Member of Parliament for Eastham, Executive Member of APPGT
“My thoughts are especially with all those who are mourning people who died in the terrible events of nine years ago, and with those who still don’t know what became of loved ones who disappeared at that time. Reporting in February on the situation in Sri Lanka, the UN Human Rights Commissioner pointed out that progress with commitments previously made by the Sri Lankan Government ‘has been virtually stalled for more than a year’, and that allegations of torture have been rife. The British Government has a particular responsibility here, not least because some of the commitments were accepted by David Cameron in person when he visited Sri Lanka. Britain should be leading efforts to secure the international involvement in the reconciliation process which was previously agreed to, and maintain unrelenting pressure until the commitments made are fulfilled.”
Joan Ryan MP for Enfield North, Vice Chair of APPGT
“My thoughts and best wishes are with you all as we commemorate the tragic events of Mullivaikal. 9 years on from the end of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, I share your deep concerns that the Sri Lankan Government has made no meaningful progress on truth, justice and reconciliation. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Unless the culture of impunity on the island is tackled, and there is a genuine reckoning with the country’s past, Sri Lanka will be unable to lay the foundations of a sustainable peace.
I can assure you that I will continue to support all efforts to ensure an enduring peace in Sri Lanka and the recognition of the Tamil people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.
Siobhain McDonagh MP for Mitcham and Morden, Senior Vice Chair of APPGT
“Dear All, today we pause to mark the 9th anniversary of the massacre at Mullivaikal. We reflect and remember all those who died during Sri Lanka’s civil war. And we reaffirm our strong belief that only truth, justice and accountability will set Sri Lanka on a path to lasting peace. Each of you will be fully aware of the failure of the Sri Lankan Government to live up to its promises on justice and reconciliation. The Tamil community has valiantly brought the damning evidence of the Sri Lankan Government’s war crimes to the attention of the world. And yet, the overwhelming majority of the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government remain unachieved. None of the four key transitional justice mechanisms pledged have even been operationalised.”
Wes Streeting MP for Ilford North, Vice Chair of APPGT
“The events of the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war were among the most bloody and barbaric. We have a responsibility to honour the memory of the deceased and the disappeared and to continue our quest for truth, accountability and reconciliation. Year after year I have travelled to Geneva to make sure that the international community holds Sri Lanka to account. They made a commitment to involve international judges and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed during the civil war. Now they must deliver. It is to the eternal shame of the international community that we looked the other way while innocent people were subjected to unimaginable acts of violence and terror.
We owe it to you and to all the Tamil people never to look away again. As you gather in solemn and loving memory of those who are lost, as Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and the Member of Parliament for Ilford North, I give you my word that I will work relentlessly to make sure that the commitments made to the international community by the Government of Sri Lanka are honoured.”
Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Secretary of APPGT
"Like other MPs, both from my party, the Liberal Democrats, and other parties, I will continue to campaign for justice for the Tamil community.”
John Mann MP for Bassetlaw
“On this anniversary we send solidarity to the Tamil people in their fight for reconciliation and justice. Recognising the injustices and the bravery of the families of those missing, we call on the UK government and the UN to guarantee a full international inquiry, action to support the human rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka and justice for all the families and communities of the Tamil diaspora.
It is shameful that the UK is no longer leading the way in the fight for justice and we call upon Boris Johnson to speak at the UN human rights council in Geneva to strengthen the powers of the UN to intervene in this tragedy. Today we stand in remembrance and solidarity”.
Grant Shapps MP for Welwyn Hatfield
“As we mark today’s tragic milestone, it’s hard to comprehend the suffering that the Tamil people went through during the Civil War. My thoughts and prayers are very much with all those who sadly lost their lives and also the friends and families who have been so badly impacted by this tragedy.
Although the Sri Lankan government has in recent years taken a few steps to improve the human rights situation, much more remains to be done for the country to fulfil its commitments made at the UNHRC in October 2015. I’m pleased that this remains a priority for the British Government and will continue to press its counterpart in Sri Lanka to fulfil its obligations.”
Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East, Executive Officer of APPGT
“We honour those who lost their lives in the Civil War this Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day and shall do so every May 18th. Justice now for Tamils, and for the Sri Lankan government to be held accountable for their actions”.
Gareth Thomas MP for Harrow West
“As the Member of Parliament for Harrow West, with the largest Tamil community in the UK I have seen many cases of constituents directly affected by the terrible events that occurred during the conflict. I have spoken to countless Tamil constituents who lost relatives killed or injured in the fighting. I have seen the scars of people tortured in police cells, heard the stories of those who fled from communities where their friends and neighbours had been raped or murdered in cold blood or who had land and property stolen from them by the military.
The demand for justice remains loud and clear. The scale of human rights abuses will never be forgotten. The demand for an international UN-led investigation remains as pressing now as it did 9 years ago and I will always, always, be a champion for action against those responsible for the abuses all of us know happened.”
Theresa Villiers MP and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said,
Today is an important occasion to remember those that lost their lives in the tragedies that occurred in the closing stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
Thousands of people lost their lives, many at the hands of those committing war crimes and human rights abuses. So Mullivaikkal day today is another opportunity for me and parliamentarians across the United Kingdom to call on the government of Sri Lanka to introduce the accountability mechanisms that they promised to do when they signed up to the UN Human Rights Council resolution on these matters.
It's time to ensure that we have accountability in Sri Lanka and to ensure that those who are guilty of war crimes are brought to justice.
Ed Davey MP, the vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, also told the Tamil Guardian,
“We’re remembering the 9th anniversary of the massacre of Tamils… it’s an occasion where we should commit ourselves to redouble our efforts to fight for justice, for peace, for human rights and to hold the people who committed this genocide to account.”
“We need the EU to remove the trade preferences given to the Sri Lankan government – they shouldn’t have been given in the first place… That way we can use real power to force the Sri Lankan government back to the table so it does actually allow itself to have that independent international investigation into war crimes”.
Robert Halfon, Member of Parliament for Harlow said,
“On this very important day of remembrance, we should give our thanks to every member of the Tamil community who keep the flame of the Tamils alive.
And we remember all the tragic victims of the genocide of the Tamils. We remember all the awful treatment of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan regime. The Tamils deserve their autonomy. The Tamils deserve equality of opportunity. The Tamils deserve equality. One must never forget.”
Paul Scully, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, said,
“Even now, nine years on, we still have to get justice for the people who remain so that they can rebuild their lives, rebuild their future in Sri Lanka and elsewhere around the world. It’s very difficult to hear the stories of the survivors of Mullivaikkal, but we really do need to listen to them and redouble our efforts to get that justice.”
Speaking to the Tamil Guardian in London, Mr Scully went on to add,
“We’ve got to hold the Sri Lankan government’s feet to the fire, making sure that they adhere to the resolution at the United Nations that they sponsored.
Zac Goldsmith, Member of Parliament for Richmond Park and Executive Officer of the APPGT, stated that this day of remembrance was “in particular for the many tens of thousands of civilians who were killed in Vanni by Sri Lankan state forces at the very end of the war”.
“But we must also consider the t of those who survived. Particularly the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, of the disappeared.”
“Many of them handed their children to the Sri Lankan military at the end of the war, fully expecting them to be released after a brief vetting process. That was the last time many of them saw their children. 9 years later the Sri Lankan military has provided no answers. So on this Mullivaikkal remembrance day, I want to send my support to those mothers, who have been protesting peacefully and calling on the Sri Lankan state to release their children.”
Former parliamentarian Lee Scott released a short message stating that, “Justice will be done and I will always be by your side”.