The Council of the London Borough of Redbridge passed a historic motion on 19 March 2015 calling for justice for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and for a permanent solution to the conflict in that island which will meet the aspiration of the people within the Tamil nation.
The leader of the Conservative Group Cllr Paul Canal proposed the motion and Conservative councillor for Clayhall Ward, Alan Weinberg seconded it. The motion received cross party support and was carried unanimously.
When asked for comments on the matter, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and the MP for Ilford North, Hon. Lee Scott said “it is important that the entire population of this country is informed of the positive contribution that the Tamil community makes to this country and of the issues faced by their kith and kin in Sri Lanka. I am pleased that Redbridge has taken the lead on this and I would like to see other Councils follow suit”.
He also added, “On the day Redbridge Council passed this motion, I was at the United Nations in Geneva working to bring about the changes required in order to deliver justice, peace and a permanent political solution to the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka”.
Welcoming the motion, Labour Councillor Thavathuray Jeyaranjan, said “it rightly draws attention to the sad plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. During the onslaught of the Sinhala let government on the Tamil people fighting for their basic right terrible atrocities were committed by the government forces. As many people would know, when the country became independent in 1948, the Tamil, people were allowed no say at all in running the country. No freedom at all. They were treated as worse than aliens in their own country. I support the motion”.
Councillor Paul Canal said that he is grateful to have received cross-party support for the motion. He further said that our country and the international community should take immediate steps to help the Tamil people realise their legitimate aspirations in their historic homeland.
The full text of the motion passed by the Council follows:
“Council notes that over many decades the Tamil people in Sri Lanka have been the subject of atrocities of genocidal proportions committed by the Sri Lankan government. The Tamils are also the subject of genocidal land-grabs overseen by the government. In May 2009, according to UN reports, over 70,000 civilians were killed in just a few weeks mainly due to shelling and aerial bombardment by the Sri Lankan armed forces. During the onslaught by the Sinhala state on the Tamil people, the British Tamils including residents of the London Borough of Redbridge poured on to the streets of London in mass rallies and held vigils in Parliament Square and elsewhere in order to call upon our government to take active measures to stop the onslaught. Similarly, Tamil people around the world called upon their respective governments but their calls fell on deaf ears.
Council also notes that the international community, having supported the Sri Lankan state in its war efforts based on its promise to address the root cause of the conflict, is beginning to see that there is no will on the part of the Sri Lankan state to do so. Our country’s actions during and subsequent to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 resulted in the Human Rights Council adopting a resolution requesting the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ‘to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes’.
Council further notes that the report resulting from the said investigation was scheduled to be published in March 2015. The international community has again failed to deliver on its promises by its intentional postponement of publication of the report.
In light of the above Council resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the following:
- The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Secretary General of the United Nations
Requesting that they take concerted efforts in order to facilitate the delivery of:
(i) A permanent political solution addressing the root cause of the conflict which will meet the aspirations of the Tamil people in their home nation.
(ii) Justice for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Tamil people.
(iii) A mechanism which will ensure the socio-economic and cultural wellbeing is enhanced while safeguarding historical identity within their Tamil nation.”