UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and BTF Host Annual Dinner in London

admin | January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Activists, journalists, religious leaders, politicians of all parties and prominent members of the British Tamil community arrived at the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London yesterday for the annual dinner of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT).

The event began with a traditional Bharatanatyam dance performance and welcome speeches by Mr V Ravi Kumar, co-ordinator of BTF, and Lee Scott MP, who is the chair of the APPGT.

Mr Ravi Kumar reminded the seated guests that the recent change of government in Sri Lanka does not alter the Tamils’ position that they are the victims of genocide under successive Sinhala dominated governments. He also thanked the media in the UK, particularly Channel 4 News and Callum MacRae, for helping expose the Sri Lankan state’s actions to the outside world. Mr Ravi Kumar maintained that Tamils believe an end to the genocide is not possible without a fundamental restructuring of the Sri Lankan state and its institutions and without recognition of the Tamils’ right to self-determination. Pointing out that the new government has promised to protect the military – which continues to occupy Tamil lands – and those in the previous government from the threat of international justice, Mr Ravi Kumar called on the international community to resist the new Sri Lankan government’s call for more time. Mr Ravi Kumar also drew attention to the continued military occupation of Tamil lands on the island.

Throughout the dinner, guests heard impassioned speeches from MPs of all parties, including Ed Davey, John Mann, Siobhain McDonagh, UK Justice Minister Chris Grayling, Ivan Lewis, Robert Halfon, Tom Brake and Gavin Barwell. Guests also saw a video message from the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband and Nick de Bois MP read a message sent by the Prime Minister David Cameron.
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UK Parliamentarians Discuss Sri Lanka Following Presidential Election

admin | January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

Lee Scott, chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils opened the meeting, stating that the present government headed by the new President Sirisena is not a new government but the old government with new faces.

Several MPs present raised the point that the many of the ministers in the new government were from the old government including the President. Lee Scott raised his concern regarding the inclusion of General Sarath Fonseka in the new government, who is an alleged war criminal named by a UN report. One of the MPs present inquired whether the minister in charge of Sri lankan affairs, Hugo Swire, who is currently visiting Sri Lanka would raise these concerns with the new government and persuade it to accede to the Rome Statute, the UN convention on International Criminal Court.
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BTF and All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils Host Annual Dinner on 29 January 2015

admin | January 19th, 2015 | No Comments »

British Tamil forum (BTF) in collaboration with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG for Tamils) is to organise an annual dinner at the Royal Horseguards Hotel on 29 January 2015, inviting all UK MPs, business, religious and community leaders, international NGOs and international media personnel.

BTF hopes to highlight the following issues to the participants at this event:

1. Justice for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. To consider all options available to press the Sri Lankan Government to corporate with the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka and through a UN supported resolution to set up an international tribunal to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and the intent of genocide during the conflict, like those established for Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

2. A political solution to address the root cause of the conflict. To conduct an internationally monitored referendum amongst the Tamil people living in the island and the Tamil Diaspora, consisting of those displaced due to the war, to establish their democratic wish to exercise their Right to Self Determination.

3. To call on the UK government to take the lead in exerting pressure on the Sri Lankan regime y enforcing targeted sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes on Sri Lankan military personnel and politicians accused of complicity in the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Regardless of any change in the political leadership or regime in Sri Lanka, the accountability process should continue until justice is delivered to the victims of the crimes committed against Tamils.

British Tamils Forum delegation meets key BJP members in India

admin | January 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

Mr Vijay Jolly (All India Convenor of BJP’s Foreign Cell and Member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP) welcomed the recent BTF delegation to India, and said the following: “We are of the firm view that the attack on Tamils should immediately stop in Sri Lanka, and I, along with our party general secretary Mr Muralider Rao, raised our concerns with President Rajapakse on his last visit to India. We do not want to interfere with the internal affairs of another country but our sentiments are there with every positive endeavour of the BTF and its activities worldwide. We wish you all the best and we do hope that better senses will prevail for protection of human rights of Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Western nations will take adequate note of the valid concerns of the British Tamils Forum on this subject. Jai Hind.”
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British Tamil Forum response to the election results and the new government in Sri Lanka

admin | January 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

The presidential election in Sri Lanka has just concluded and the present government has lost the elections, but this will not still resolve the immediate issues faced by the Tamil people nor address the fundamental issue that has affected the Tamils in Sri Lanka for a very long time.

As stated by the newly sworn in president in his election manifesto, the policy towards giving autonomy to the Tamil people, de-militarisation of the Tamil areas and cooperation with the UNHRC’s international inquiry will remain the same. The fundamental issue that has fuelled this conflict for well over 60 years since the independence of Sri Lanka or Ceylon is the nature of the state, which needs to be structurally reformed. Read More

Joint New Year Message from World-wide Tamil Organizations and Entities: A Solemn Pledge to Work for Justice, Protection, and Freedom of the Tamil People

admin | January 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »

On this New Year’s Day, January 1, 2015, Tamil organizations and entities around the world pledge our renewed commitment to bring dignity, freedom, justice, and peace to our Tamil brethren living in the occupied NorthEast region constituting the Tamil Nation in the island of Sri Lanka. We are united in our quest for freedom for our people who have been oppressed by successive Sri Lankan regimes.

We thank the International Community for leading and supporting the Resolution at the March 2014 Session of the UNHRC, which initiated the investigation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for violations of human rights and related crimes against the Tamil people. We are hopeful that the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) will lead to accountability and remedial justice for genocide, war-crimes, and crimes against humanity committed against the Tamil people.

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British Tamils’ heartfelt condolence to the families of victims of landslide in Sri Lanka.

admin | November 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »

BTF shares the grief of the Tamil people  of Meeriyabedha in Badulla district. 66 apartments in 6 lines of houses have been completely submerged in the landslide that took place between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. on 29th of October 2014. In one of the biggest landslides in Sri Lanka, members of more than 66 Tamil families are feared dead in the disaster that struck on Wednesday in Meeriyabedda in Badulla District in the Up Country. Tamil relief workers in the Up Country said more than 300 people are feared missing and there is no hope for survivors. Several school children survived the catastrophe as they had gone to schools, the reports further said. Many children have become orphaned. 95% of the affected people are Tamil people employed in the tea plantations.

BTF calls upon the fellow diaspora Tamils to provide all possible assistance to the affected Tamils through the NGO’s and calls upon the UK government and the UN to provide immediate disaster relief to the affected families and children.

Complete ratification of Article 1 of the ICCPR is a necessity to adequately address systemic and structural violation of Tamils’ collective and individual rights

admin | October 8th, 2014 | Comments Off

The Sri Lankan State is currently being reviewed by the Human Rights Committee at the 112th session for its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 7-8 October 2014. The Human Rights Team of the British Tamils Forum is closely following the important UN Human Rights mechanism and submitted a NGO reply for consideration to the Human Rights Committee. The Human Rights Team of BTF welcomes that the Committee included and were interested in information which were provided in our report.

Having attended the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council in September, members of the Human Rights Team of BTF are currently present in Geneva attending the review of Sri Lanka by the UN Human Rights Committee.
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BTF statement on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update on Sri Lanka at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

admin | September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

British Tamils Forum commends the OHCHR for expressing concern at the hostility and obstructiveness of the Sri Lankan state and civil society – including the government, parliament and media – towards the investigation, which is mandated to investigate “alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka”.

In the oral update, the OHCHR notes that the Sri Lankan government has gone so far as to threaten those who might testify before the inquiry with legal action. Furthermore, the OHCHR has expressed concern that the Sri Lankan government has proscribed a number of organisations, including BTF, that have been actively engaged with the Human Rights Council since the OHCHR inquiry was mandated by resolution 25/1 in March 2014. The proscriptions add to the risks faced by individuals and organisations on the island who work with these organisations to bring Sri Lanka’s abuses under international scrutiny. Read More

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett supports international inquiry into war crimes and believes genocide has occurred in Sri Lanka

admin | September 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

British Tamils Forum members and a constituent met former UK Home Secretary David Blunkett MP last Saturday to garner support for UK Tamil organisations and individuals that have been targeted by Sri Lanka’s efforts to silence dissent through the use of UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

During the meeting, Mr Blunkett told the delegation that he believed genocide had taken place on the island of Sri Lanka and that evidence that human rights violations had occurred during the armed conflict in 2009 must be properly investigated.

Mr Blunkett expressed disappointment at Sri Lanka’s obstruction of the currently ongoing UN Human Rights Council mandated investigation into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and lent his support to the need for an independent international investigation on abuses that have happened in Sri Lanka.