Britain wants long-term political settlement

swire    Answering a question in the UK parliament on 13 Feb 2014 Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Mr Hugo Swire said: We continue to monitor closely civil and political rights as well as land issues in Sri Lanka. We welcomed the Northern Provincial Council elections in Sri Lanka, which took place in September 2013 and continue to underline to the Sri Lankan authorities the need for a long-term political settlement to address these underlying grievances and will continue to monitor these issues.

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of reports of discriminatory practices towards the Tamil people in Sri Lanka relating to (a) political rights, (b) education and (c) appropriation of land.

Mr Swire: We continue to monitor closely civil and political rights as well as land issues in Sri Lanka. We welcomed the Northern Provincial Council elections in Sri Lanka, which took place in September 2013. This was the first provincial council election held in the predominantly Tamil north since the 1987 establishment of provincial councils. The opposition, Tamil National Alliance, won over 80% of the vote. Local election observers noted that elections were “relatively free from violence, though not from intimidation”.

We have expressed concerns at military involvement in civilian activities in the north and are aware of reports that the military are involved in education.

The Prime Minister raised land rights and militarisation in the north of Sri Lanka during his November meeting with the Sri Lankan President Rajapaska. He called for a meaningful political settlement with the north, including demilitarisation and full implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations.

We continue to underline to the Sri Lankan authorities the need for a long-term political settlement to address these underlying grievances and will continue to monitor these issues.

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking in Sri Lanka to create lasting peace and reconciliation.

Mr Swire: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I have given to question 186379 on 6 February 2013. (House of Commons)

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