‘Tamil Diaspora numbering over 300,000 a powerful inducement’

Lanka alleges UK Labour MP timed debate for UNHRC sessions



by Shamindra Ferdinando in Geneva


The UK continued to play politics with SriLanka’s national reconciliation process, government officials, now in Geneva for the 19th sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), told The Island yesterday (23).


They alleged that a group of British parliamentarians, too, was campaigning against Sri Lanka at the behest of the LTTE. The officials were responding to a British onslaught directed at President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government at Wednesday’s private member’s motion debate secured by Labour backbencher, Virendra Sharma, who represents Ealing Southall constituency.


During the 90-minute debate, which dealt with alleged atrocities committed by Sri Lankan forces during the conflict, the UK declared that the government was likely to throw its weight behind a resolution moved by the US during the course of UNHRC sessions beginning Feb. 28.


The UK couldn’t vote against Sri Lanka as it is not a member of the 47-nation UNHRC. The British backing for the US resolution in this particular case only gives some moral support to those campaigning on behalf of the LTTE to achieve its objectives at Geneva.


The British High Commission didn’t respond to The Island queries on Wednesday and yesterday.


Wednesday’s debate was the first this year since last year’s controversy over the House of Commons attacking both Sri Lanka and India on the human rights front. The Indian government lashed out at the UK in the wake of contentious discussion on ‘Human Rights in the Sub Continent’ last September.


London-based US Political Affairs Officer Richard Millis quoted Ti Waite, a senior aide to Foreign Secretary David Miliband as having told him in May 2009, how the ‘very vocal’ Tamil Diaspora in UK, numbering over 300,000, put pressure on the government. Waite claimed that Miliband had spent 60 per cent of his time on Sri Lanka due to impending UK elections. 


Senior attorney-at-law Gomin Dayasri told The Island whatever the consequences the government should expose those targeting Sri Lanka on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. In spite of the UK preaching human rights to the developing world, it was yet to finalise the Iraq war inquiry nearly a decade after the invasion in early 2003. Western powers had even ignored former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s declaration that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. The press quoted Annan as having said a year after the invasion that it was not sanctioned by the UN Security Council or in accordance with the UN’s founding charter.


In fact, the British initiated a much delayed inquiry in July 2009, Dayasri, who had represented Sri Lanka at Geneva talks in 2006, held under the auspices of the Norwegian government, said. The British role in secret transfer of terrorist suspects arrested in various parts of the world in a massive operation directed by the US was no longer a secret.


Responsibility relating to accountability on the part of the British government since the 9/11 attacks on US had never been an issue to countries pursuing Sri Lanka on the human rights front. But, several international organisations had exposed the British, though its allies had turned a blind eye for obvious reasons, Dayasri said.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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