British MP calls for Sanctions against Sri Lanka

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On this day 12 years ago, the Sri Lanka military extinguished the Tamil armed resistance and in doing so slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians through a relentless campaign of shelling hospitals, designated “no-fire zones”, summary executions, unlawful detention, torture, and enforced disappearances.

12 years have passed, and no military or government official has been held to account for this genocidal violence. Instead, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warns, Sri Lanka has continued to “sow the seeds of future violations”. Sri Lanka’s President has abandoned the country’s commitments to the UN Human Rights Council; promoted genocidaires to head government departments; and has called for witnesses and investigators to be prosecuted.

All this has taken place whilst a deadly pandemic has ravaged Sri Lanka, leaving the country with an infection rate higher than India. Those hardest hit are Tamil communities in the North-East which have been pushed to the point of starvation due to government negligence. Rather than offer support, Sri Lanka’s security forces have enforced a harsh military rule, criminalizing acts of remembrance, and destroying memorials.

Despite this, Tamils across the homeland and the world continue to resist and call for justice. From lighting candles to passing out kanji, to marches, Tamils refuse to let their history be erased or their call for justice be extinguished. Whilst it is clear that Sri Lanka has no intention to punish its genocidaires; there is a growing international consensus for action.

Parliamentarians in Australia, Britain, Canada, the USA, and European Countries are calling on their governments to follow the lead of Ontario in recognizing the Tamil genocide and to go further by referring Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.

As the Honourable Shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Stephen Kinnock MP, has rightly pointed out, Britain is failing to abide by its moral obligations through its silence on Sri Lanka. Labour MPs have repeatedly asked why the government’s Global Human Rights sanctions regime does not include “a single senior Sri Lankan government minister, official or military officer” importantly General Shavendra Silva.  It is time for Britain to put its rhetoric into action and demand accountability and justice in Sri Lanka.

As the Tamil community gathers across the world to remember the sacrifices made by our people; we stand unified in demanding justice in Sri Lanka for the crime of genocide; that an independent international prosecution of mass atrocity crimes against Tamils take place; and that, the right for self-determination of the Tamil people be recognized.

Sen Kandiah, Chair of Tamils for Labour said:

“As long as Tamils live, genocide suffered by our people during the war in Sri Lanka will never be forgotten.  We will continue to fight for justice for the genocide suffered by our people.  Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer MP’s statement confirms the resolve of the Labour Party to continue the battle for justice for Tamils”.
Keir Starmer’s full statement

“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”.

Sir Keir Starmer, QC, Leader of the UK Labour Party

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