Fri, 2008-12-19: "The British Government recognises the Government of Sri Lanka’s democratic right to fight terrorism," Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Bill Rammell said at the adjournment debate on ‘Sri Lanka’ initiated by Andrew Pelling MP (Ind) for Croydon Central on December 18 at the House Of Commons, British Parliamnet, London.
Minister Bill Rammell said, "The LTTE has no democratic mandate to represent the Tamil population. It is reported to recruit civilians, including children, into its ranks forcibly, to extort food and money from an already impoverished people, to abduct and kill Tamil civilians who disagree with its views or methods and to break all norms of international humanitarian law by preventing civilians from leaving conflict areas, effectively holding them as a human shield. The LTTE has conducted a terrorist campaign across the whole of Sri Lanka for nearly three decades, deliberately targeting thousands of individual civilians, as well as assassinating Government figures."
Members of the Tamil community in the UK are concerned about proscription of the LTTE—an issue raised by Leicester- East MP Keith Vaz (Labour Party), Minister Rammell answered, "It is important not to forget that the LTTE is a ruthless terrorist organisation, which is responsible for serious human rights abuses against civilians throughout Sri Lanka. So British Government has outlined the LTTE’s record as a terrorist organisation and until it renounces terrorist activities in word and deed, there is little prospect of the proscription being lifted."
He said, "theBritish Government concerns for civilians in Sri Lanka and it is primary responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka to protect them. The conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE has gone on for more than 25 years, and it has claimed the lives of at least 70,000 people in Sri Lanka. We recognise that the causes of the conflict, and the legitimate concerns of all communities in Sri Lanka, need to be addressed."
"However, terrorism is not the way to achieve that. The LTTE claims to be the sole legitimate voice of the Tamil people and is alleged to have killed Tamil politicians with different political views from its own. We must never allow a proscribed organisation to be the only voice of the people."
"There needs to be a full debate among all communities—Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese—free from intimidation, on what an acceptable political settlement to the conflict might resemble. We have called on the LTTE to renounce terrorist methods and demonstrate genuine commitment to democratic principles. I hope that the recent reduction of attacks on civilian targets in the south of Sri Lanka suggests movement in that direction.
The Government of Sri Lanka also have real responsibilities. They need to show that they are serious about reaching a political solution to the conflict, and to do much more to reach out to the different communities in Sri Lanka. We are supporting initiatives to get political parties together around the same table and to promote grass-roots dialogue between the different ethnic communities. An important part of a political solution will be to ensure that proper structures and institutions are in place to protect the rights of all Sri Lankans, and to bring an end to the culture of impunity that allows human rights abuses to occur across the island." Minister said.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir Michael Lord chaired the adjournment debate and the following MPs also commented.
Mr. Andrew Love for Edmonton (Labour), Mr. Andrew Dismore For Hendon (Labour), Mr Jeremy Corbyn for Islington, North (Labour, ) Mr. Lee Scott for Ilford, North (Conservative, Mr. Paul Burstow for Sutton and Cheam (Liberal Democrat) John McDonnell for Hayes and Harlington (Labour), Susan Kramer for Richmond Park (Liberal Democrat), Simon Hughes for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Liberal Democrat) (The Asia Tribune)