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'Tamils have a fundamental right to remember their war dead' - British MPs commemorate Maarveerar Naal

In an act of commemoration, British MPs and ministers, have issued statements marking Maaveerar Naal and stressing the right of Tamils to remember their war dead and the need for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka.

The statement comes as Sri Lanka's security forces ramp up their repression across the North-East and have brutally assaulted Tamil journalists for attempting to cover memorialisation events.


Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South

Tarry's message called upon the British government to "play a leading role in calling out the Sri Lankan state" and stressed that any future trade deal "must begin with human rights and those conditions must be met with tangible progress".

He further reiterated calls for magnitsky-styled sanctions on Sri Lanka's notorious army commander Shavendra Silva, who has already been subjected to a US-travel ban for allegations of credible war crimes.

"It's high time to act on Sri Lanka", Tarry stressed noting that "Tamils have faced acts of genocide" and calling for an international investigation to look into the crime of genocide.
Tarry also emphasised Britain's responsibility for the conflict in Sri Lanka due to its colonial roots. He added that Britain must respect the right of Tamils to self-determination.
"The Labour party has and always will stand by Tamil people in their struggle for justice and self-determination" he stated.


Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow

In commemorating Maaveerar Naal Robert Halfon stated:

"Today the Tamils remember those who lost their lives fighting for freedom and the rights of Tamils living in Sri Lanka. The Tamils have suffered persecution and genocide by consecutive Sri Lankan governments since independence. Today Sri Lanka stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the United Nations".

He further added:

"I stand with Tamils for the fight for justice, freedom, accountability, autonomy. They deserve nothing less".


Elliot Colburn, Chair of the  All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and MP for Carshalton and Wallington 

In his message, Colburn stressed that "the fight for peace justice and accountability and the answers to the questions families have about the whereabouts of their loved ones is still being fought for till this day".

He further added that "Tamils are still facing human rights violations in Sri Lanka even now".

"The fight for truth and justice goes on" he maintained.


Paul Scully, Minister for London and MP for Sutton and Cheam,

Paul Scully marked the event by stating:

"My heart goes out to all those who have lost their family, who have either gone missing or died, throughout the terrible conflict. We want to make sure that we redouble our efforts to get truth, reconciliation, and justice for those families".


Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East

In his statement, Blackman emphasised that today marked a day to "pay respect to all those who fought for freedom and justice in Sri Lanka".

In noting the genocidal violence during the final months of the armed conflict, he stressed that an estimated 280 thousand people remain unaccounted for and that over 70,000 died in the final months.

"Government of Sri Lanka appears determined to prevent remembrance, prevent people from remembering what happened, and indeed commemorating their loved ones. Instead, we got symbols of triumphalism and victory celebrations which led to pain and anger amongst the victim communities" he stated.

"Tamils have been prevented from remembering the father, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, they lost during the armed conflict" he added.

He further stated that "despite the harassment, intimidation, threat of arrest, and violence by the security forces Tamils have commemorated their dead in private".

"We mourn with those families who have lost loved ones and indeed those who still have relatives which are not accounted for" he stated.

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet 

Villiers marked the day stating:

"It's important to remember all those who lost their lives during the long dispute and conflict in Sri Lanka which has seen for decades Tamils disadvantaged, oppressed, discriminated against and culminated in the civil war, including horrendous war crimes and human rights abuses".

She further added:

"I stand with my Tamil constituents on this national remembrance day and reflect on all those who have lost their lives as part of this tragic history to which the Tamil people have been subjected".

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe

Barker commemorated the event stating:

"We bring to mind all the Tamils who suffered discrimination and violence in Sri Lanka. We know that hundreds of thousands were incarcerated, went unaccounted for, or died. It's really important acts of remembrance go ahead uninterrupted so I've been incredibly disappointed that this has not always happened. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you remember those you loved and lost".


Siobhain McDonagh, Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils & MP for Mitcham and Morden

In her statement, McDonagh reaffirmed her strong belief that "only truth, justice and accountability will set Sri Lanka on a path to lasting peace".

She further stressed that "to this day no-one has been held accountable for international crimes committed. Crimes that have led many to accuse the Sri Lankan government of genocide against the Tamil community".

She also urged the international community to act with "far more sincerity" to ensure justice for Tamils. 

"However long the road to reconciliation may still be, we will keep fighting for justice and human rights until they are received by the Tamil people".

Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West

The MP for Harrow West highlighted during his statement that “human rights abuses continue to be a regular feature of life in Sri Lanka. There’s still a terrible culture of impunity for responsible for human rights abuses, war crimes, and the terrible events of the 2009”.

He further reiterated his call for Magnitsky style sanctions on Sri Lankan officials credibly accused of war crimes. His speech also noted that the Sri Lankan state’s attempt to squash Tamil memorials is another  “sad example of how the human rights of Tamil are not being met in Sri Lanka”.

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