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British politicians demand sanctions and international justice on Mullivaikkal anniversary

Photo Credit: ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

British politicians from across the political spectrum marked the 12th anniversary since the massacres at Mullivaikkal earlier today, with remarks from the UK foreign secretary and the Labour party leader Keir Starmer calling for sanctions on Sri Lankan officials accused of war crimes.

 

Dominic Raab - British Foreign Secretary

Photo Credit: ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

In his statement, Britain's Foreign Secretary reflected on the lives lost during the conflict stating on Twitter:

 

Keir Starmer - Leader of the Labour Party

Photo Credit: ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

In his remarks, Starmer reemphasised Labour's commitments to establishing an international accountability mechanism and called on Britain to impose sanctions on Sri Lankan government officials and military personnel responsible for war crimes.

Today, on Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day, we remember the tens of thousands of Tamils who were killed during the final stages of the Sri Lankan conflict.

The Labour Party stands with the Tamil community and as we pause and reflect upon this day our thoughts are with the victims, their families and loved ones.
But as we commemorate those we have lost this must also be a reminder of the need for truth, accountability and reconciliation. 12 years on the perpetrators of these atrocities still have not been brought to justice.

Today, the Labour Party recommits to securing justice for the families of those who died, and for the survivors of international crimes and gross human rights abuses. We reiterate our call for the United Nations to ensure a properly resourced and effective accountability mechanism. We call on the British government to deploy human rights sanctions against senior Sri Lankan government officials and military personnel so that the perpetrators of all alleged mass atrocity crimes and serious human rights violations can be held accountable and brought to justice.

Lord Tariq Ahmed of Wimbledon - Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth 

Lord Ahmed reemphasised Britain's support to achieve "reconciliation, justice and accountability" in Sri Lanka; stating on Twitter:

 

Gareth Thomas – MP for Harrow West

Gareth Thomas MP, commemorated Mullivaikkal noting the indiscriminate shelling of hospitals during the final phase of the armed struggle and calling for a referral to the International Criminal Court.

“I wish that there had been the chance to bring to justice those accused of terrible war crimes at the end of that conflict; those who are now being accused of genocide by so many people around the world, including within my constituency. Sadly the government of Sri Lanka continues to resist efforts led by the UN to bring to justice those who perpetrated those horrible human rights abuses. I believe there has to be a referral to the International Criminal Court.”

He further urged for the UK to “use its powers to take sanctions against individual members of the Sri Lankan military and government who were quite clearly responsible for terrible war crimes”.

Robert Halfon - MP for Harlow

Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, maintained the need to remember the Tamil genocide and to bring the perpetrators to face justice before an international court.

 

Wes Streeting – MP for Ilford North

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, called for the remembrance of all those who suffered, died and went missing during the final phase of the armed conflict.

“I want to see a future for all of the people of Sri Lanka that’s based on peace, freedom, democracy – all of the things that we hold dear. That won’t be possible without a process of truth, justice and reconciliation” Streeting maintained.

He also highlighted that the Sri Lankan government, “continues to turn a blind eye to contemporary ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka”.

 

Elliot Colburn - MP for Carshalton and Wallington 

Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, maintained that he would "continue to fight for accountability for the atrocities committed to Tamils during the Civil War and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice".

 

Bob Blackman - MP for Harrow East

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, called on Sri Lanka to desist from creating violence between communities and on the UK "to use all measures for an independent inquiry into the actions of the Sri Lankan government to ensure that the perpetrators of war crimes are brought to justice". 

 

Siobhain McDonagh - MP for Mitcham and Morden

Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, commemorated the end of the conflict noting that Mullivaikkal marked the “most recent peak of genocidal killings against the Tamils committed by the Sri Lankan state”.

In her statement, she noted that “12 years has presented so much challenge, so little progress, and so much pain […] Despite the passage of time human rights is again under attack”, she maintained that this was best symbolised by the demolition of the Mullivaikkal memorial in Jaffna.

She further highlighted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights damning report which noted that an “alarming path towards to recurrence of grave human rights violations”.

She also noted that she will meet with the Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights in Sri Lanka, which she maintains will be an opportunity “to make it clear that we cannot and will not turn a blind eye”.

“However long the road for reconciliation will be we will keep fighting for justice and human rights”, she concluded.

Stepehen Timms – MP for East Ham

Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, called upon the UK to follow the US’s lead in imposing sanctions on Sri Lanka’s army commander Shavendra Silva who led Sri Lanka’s army during the Mullivaikkal massacre and is responsible for the “shelling of civilians, hospitals, medical staff, and no fire-zones”.

Timms also noted that prior to the election of Gotabaya, Sri Lanka paid lip-service to the UN Human Rights Council resolution but that there was “no serious efforts to hold Sri Lanka to account”. “The new Sri Lankan government is no longer pretending”, he stated.

“significantly reversed progress on 15 of the 25 commitments under resolution 30/1 and halted progress on 7 others”.

He further added:

“There’s been a presidential pardon for one of the only soldiers convicted for a wartime atrocity; witnesses and victims have been intimidated; senior police officers taken off investigations; the former criminal investigation department head has been arrested”.

He urged the UK government to take “much firmer action, than we have seen so far” and to do so “well before we next commemorate Mullivaikkal”.

Steve Baker - MP for High Wycombe

Steve Baker, MP for High Wycombe, commemorated the day noting the tens of thousands massacred in the no-fire zones and the ongoing attacks on Tamils such as the destruction of the Mullaivaikkal memorial.

Theresa Villiers - MP for Chipping Barnet

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, marked the day noting:

"I believe Mullaivaikkal was a war crime and I want those who were responsible to be brought to justice".

 

Sam Tarry – MP for Ilford South,

Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South, called on the UN and the British government to step up the pressure on Sri Lanka to move things forwards.

“It’s been 12 years since the end of the armed conflict but life for Tamils, and the fight for justice, and the right to self-determination is still a long way off”.

Tarry maintained that as the MP for Ilford South, he would work incredibly hard to ensure that “you have justice self-determination and that all of the religions and people that exist on the island of Sri Lanka are able to do so with a shared future free from repression; free from human rights abuses; and free to have self-determination”.

 

Virendra Sharma - MP for Ealing, Southall

Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing, highlighted the intensified surveillance of Tamils by Sri Lanka’s security forces and called on the government to lift restrictions on remembrance events and to allow commemorations in a sage and COVID-secure way.

Sharma noted that Sri Lanka “denies justice to millions in the face of evidence of genocide and continues to be a party to acts of intimidation and threats of violence”.

He concluded by stating:

“I stand in solidarity with the families of those who suffered war crimes and want to peacefully commemorate their loved ones”.

Keith Prince - London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge

Keith Prince, London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge, stated that his thoughts and prayers were with the Tamil community during Mullaivaikkal as we remember those innocent lives lost during the war.

 

Lee Scot - Former Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils

Lee Scot, Former Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, remarked that we must never forget what took place and continue to fight for justice.

 

Hannah David - Director of Planning Futures & member of British Tamil Conservatives

In David's statement she reflected on the "thousands of people who lost their lives" and maintained that "we must never forget what happened in May 2009".

 

 

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