The Chairman of the Conservative party, British government ministers, Members of Parliament and other lawmakers voiced their support for the Tamil community in the United Kingdom and backed calls for justice for the Tamil people at a reception hosted by the British Tamil Conservatives at the Castle Fine Art Gallery in the International Convention Centre in Birmingham this week.
Theresa Villiers Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Grayling Secretary of State for Justice, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State Hugo Swire and Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps attended the function.
Speaking at the event, Villiers said the “Tamil community has many friends in parliament” and the “concerns of British Tamils are heard loud and clear.” The British government “will continue to press for justice for those thousands of Tamils who suffered, particularly in the final few months of the conflict,” said the minister.
Hugo Swire told the audience that “there needs to be answers given to very serious questions” regarding human rights in Sri Lanka, noting that press freedom in particular continues to deteriorate. The minister went on to add that in Geneva, where the UN Human Rights Council meets, he was “pushing for Navi Pillay’s mandate” and despite the Sri Lankan government setting up their own commission to investigate reports of mass atrocities, “it in no way replaces the UN investigation.”
Member of Parliament Robert Halfon also addressed the crowd, telling his fellow law makers that “Tamils have been victims of genocide and deserve the right to have their own nationhood.”
“I am looking forward to the day that you have your own nation and you are treated equally in the manner that you deserve,” continued the MP.
The guests also thanked the British Tamil community, with Conservative party Chairman Grant Shapps saying. “We and I all hugely appreciate the support of the Tamil community.” “Conservative MPs have stood four-square behind you,” he added to a round of applause from the room.
Mr Shapps went on to say that David Cameron “did us all proud” by visiting Jaffna, with Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling adding that the British Prime Minister “sent a powerful message in that trip.” “The message it sent to the Government of Sri Lanka – that a foreign leader was willing to go there (Jaffna), to listen and understand was important,” said Mr Grayling.
Lee Scott, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, pledged his support adding that he has been “campaigning for justice for innocent Tamil civilians who have been murdered during and after the conflict.”
“If this continues there will only be one option,” said Mr Scott. “We have to talk about what we can do to make those those that committed crimes be brought to justice and I will be calling for sanctions amongst other measures.” “I will continue until that justice is found… So that their lives have not been lost in vain.” he added.
The British government-led End Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative was also referred to by another Member of Parliament Jackie Doyle Price. “Rape is a weapon of war and rape was very much used as a weapon against the Tamils,” she said, adding the issue would continue to be raised.