The United Kingdom has again appealed for the urgent need for humanitarian ceasefire in Sri Lanka saying that it was concerned at the plight of civilians caught up in fighting between the Government troops and Liberation Tigers.
Whilst one Sri Lankan minister regretted UK’s call another ridiculed it as an “International joke”.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday, April 2 renewed his call for an "urgent humanitarian ceasefire" to "allow the remaining civilians to leave the conflict area" and sought unhindered access for humanitarian agencies to the civilians displaced by the fighting, including those, whom he referred as "still trapped" in the conflict area.
Miliband's call came a day after LTTE's Political Head B. Nadesan conveying the Tiger stance to the Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim that the attacks by the Sri Lankan forces on Tamil people aimed at total subjugation of the Tamil nation, and that only an immediate ceasefire could put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Sri Lankan aggression and pave the way for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
David Miliband in his statement said he condemned the killings of civilians in the strongest possible terms and urged the parties to take action to avoid further civilian casualties.
He also stated that the actions of the LTTE "cannot excuse any failings by the Sri Lankan government to meet the higher standards naturally expected of democratic governments in a conflict."
The appointment of Des Browne as British Prime Ministers Special Envoy to Sri Lanka was a measure of the UK's commitment to contribute to an improvement in the humanitarian situation and to the search for a sustainable political solution to the conflict, he said.
"It should be seen as such. We have been disappointed that the government of Sri Lanka continues to reject the appointment, despite earlier assurances from the President that his government would engage with an envoy." he said.
Reacting to Miliband’s statement, the Sri Lankan government said it regretted the statement of the British Foreign Secretary expressing disappointment at the continued rejection of the appointment of the British Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama reiterated in Parliament that the Government’s position that the British Government had failed to adhere to the time honoured tradition in diplomatic practice of consultation and following the procedure in making the said appointment.
Meanwhile, another Sri Lankan Minister declared that UK has no right to accuse Sri Lankan military of harming civilians considering the heinous war crimes the British have committed in the past.
“In 1982, when the British were fighting for the Falkland Islands they killed 3000 Argentineans claiming that the ship was within the war zone. However, months later it was revealed through satellite pictures that the ship was in fact within the no war zone. The British are yet to apologise for this atrocity,” Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Patali Champika Ranawaka said.
The Minister ridiculed the US and the UK saying that it was an “International joke” that the British and Americans were lecturing the Lankan military on halting the war when scores were dying in Afghanistan and Iraq and suggested the British and American military take lessons from the Sri Lankan military.