Yesterday, British MPs met with Tamil activists, lawyers, and religious leaders in the parliament to demand that the UK government recognise the genocide perpetrated against Eelam Tamils.
The conference aimed at addressing the ongoing structural genocide against the Tamil community and reflecting on the urgent need for accountability for past atrocities.
Speaking at the conference, Shadow Minister for International Trade, Gareth Thomas MP, raised his concerns over the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and stressed the need to hold perpetrators and human rights abusers accountable for their actions.
Thomas further stressed the need to uphold human rights and labour rights as well as the utility of sanctions.
Tamil civil society leader and coordinator of the P2P movement, Velan Swamikal, spoke at the conference about the structure genocide of Tamils through the destruction of Tamil temples and imposition of Buddhist Viharas. A key example being the destruction of the Vedukkunaari Temple in Vavuniya.
The imposition of Buddhist Viharas is often accompanied by interference by the Sri Lankan military. Swamikal called on the international community and the UK in particular to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court; to address the urgent need to protect the Tamil homeland; and facilitate a referendum for determining their desired form of governance and democracy.
Shadow Minister of State for Police, Sarah Jones, stressed the need for the UK to show global leadership and noted the support of 60 MPs to debate issues on Sri Lanka. She further stressed the importance of collective efforts and parliamentary engagement to seek justice for the Tamil genocide.
Speaking at the Conference, Sir Ed Davey MP and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, maintained that: "We must never forget the immense suffering faced by the Tamil community”.
He further raised concerns over the continued harassment and targeting of Tamil political representatives. Davey urged the British government to hold the Sri Lankan army and government accountable and maintained that trade sanctions and withdrawal of trade benefits would be a useful tool. He further urged Britain to follow Canada’s lead and sanction two former Sri Lankan presidents, Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Davey’s maintained that the economic crisis the island was suffering was the result of corruption and military control.
John MacDonald MP similarly stressed the need for Magnitsky-style sanctions on Sri Lanka.
"It is imperative that the UK government not only formally recognizes the Tamil genocide but also takes concrete steps to enact Magnitsky legislation. Such legislation would hold those responsible for the atrocities accountable and ensure that justice is served."
Virendra Sharma MP assured the audience of his unwavering support for Tamils and his continued engagement with the community over the years.
Sam Tarry MP, stressed the need to advocate for accountability and call on Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court to face justice for the Tamil genocide.
The conference included speeches from Tamil activists from the World Tamils Heritage Society and Janani Jananayagam, Chair of Together Against Genocide.
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