During his Thai Pongal message, Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South, has expressed his concern over the detonating human rights situation in Sri Lanka for Tamils and Muslims and has called for sanctions against Sri Lankan officials accused by the UN of war crimes.
"Sri Lankan officials that have been accused by the UN of war crimes must also face targeted sanctions. We have already seen our Government do so with officials in Myanmar responsible for the genocide of Rohingya Muslims, and it's time they acted on Sri Lanka", he said.
In his statement, Tarry highlights how Britain’s colonial history influenced the root causes of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and argued that the country must “play a leading role in ensuring that a peaceful political solution is found”, one which respects the Tamil right of self-determination.
Tarry also expressed deep concern over the destruction of the Mullivaikkal memorial at Jaffna University and highlight that it was a UN fundamental right for Tamils to be able to remember their war dead.
He notes that” “elected Tamil politicians, the relatives of the dead and the wider Tamil community” continue to face “state repression in their attempts to remember their war dead”. He maintained that he would pressure the Foreign Secretary to hold Sri Lanka accountable.
Militarisation and accountability
A key concern raised by Tarry is Sri Lanka’s rejection of the “UN resolutions calling for an international accountability mechanism for war crimes” and highlights the ongoing issues of militarisation of Tamil homelands”. He further states there are “attacks and intimidation of civil society and journalists are of serious concern”.
It is in this light, that Tarry argues for that Britain must take a firmer stance with Sri Lanka and should be “leading on efforts for a new resolution at the next Human Rights Council session”.
Tarry further demanded that “any future trade deals with Sri Lanka must be linked to tangible progress on the UN resolutions”.
He concludes his statement noting that the Labour party had made a manifesto commitment to the Tamil rights struggle and that they would “always stand by the Tamil people in their struggle for justice, an end to oppression and self-determination both in Sri Lanka and across the world”.