BTF and APPG for Tamils to hold conference on structural violence against Tamil women

admin | May 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Following the horrific end to the armed conflict 5 years ago in May 2009, in which Tamil women became victims of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war, they continue to be subjected to many forms of structural sexual violence perpetrated by the Sri Lankan military occupying the Tamil Homeland. The social stigma attached to the victims afflicted by sexual violence, is preventing them escaping from one of the most persistent and most neglected injustices in the world. They remain vulnerable and exposed to further violence and exploitation by predators.

While we remember this May the deaths of over 70,000 innocent Tamil civilians who were killed during the final 5 months of that armed conflict, and 146,679 people who still remain unaccounted for, we must not forget the over 90,000 Tamil war widows. The structural violence against these women is destroying individuals, families and the Tamil Nation in the Island of Sri Lanka.

To shine a spotlight on these issues, British Tamils Forum and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils will hold a conference at the UK Houses of Parliament on 13 May 2014, bringing together civil society experts, MPs from UK and Sri Lanka, witnesses, and victims to speak of the structural violence against Tamil women in the Island of Sri Lanka.

Rally to commemorate fifth anniversary of Mullivaikkal Massacre

admin | May 7th, 2014 | 122 Comments »

Venue: Trafalgar Square, London (nearest station: Charing Cross)
Time: 4-8pm, Sunday 18 May 2014

Five years on from May 2009, when Sri Lanka’s decades-long persecution of the Tamil people reached its violent climax on the shores of Mullivaikkal, British Tamils will commemorate the tens of thousands of Tamils who were killed and the many more who were injured, disappeared or raped.

The rally, which will be held in Trafalgar Square, London, will not only remember those who were killed and wounded in 2009, but also the thousands of Tamils who continue to be killed, tortured, abused and harassed every day in Sri Lanka, in what the Tamil people believe to be a continuing programme of structural genocide.

British Tamils will also press world leaders to honour their promise to obtain justice for the victims of Sri Lanka’s oppression of the Tamil people.

British Tamils Forum encourages both Tamils and the wider British community to join us in remembrance of the victims of this ongoing conflict on the island of Sri Lanka.

Land grabs conference report published

admin | May 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

BTF has published its report on the International Conference on State Grabs of Tamil Land in the Island of Sri Lanka, which took place between 31 January and 2 February 2014 in London, organised jointly by BTF and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils.

Sri Lanka is on the UK’s Country of Concern list

admin | April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »

Foreign and commonwealth office has raised concern over Sri Lanka on their recent human rights report published on 10th of April 2014. There are 27 other Countries of Concern also listed in their latest annual Human Rights Report. Full report can be accessed on the following link.

All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils responds to Sri Lanka’s move to proscribe diaspora organisations

admin | April 2nd, 2014 | 70 Comments »

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils has released the following statement today in response to the Sri Lankan government’s decision to proscribe a number of diaspora organisations, including British Tamils Forum.

Click here to download this statement (pdf).

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APPG for Tamils Statement on UNHRC resolution establishing an independent international inquiry on Sri Lanka

admin | March 31st, 2014 | 21 Comments »

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG for Tamils), welcomes the decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt the resolution on 27th March 2014, which establishes an independent international inquiry into abuses that have taken place in Sri Lanka. The adoption of this resolution is the culmination of five years of hard work by many people around the world; the APPG for Tamils would like to express its sincere gratitude for their dedication and unwavering commitment to seek justice for the victims and survivors of this conflict.

Now the inquiry has been announced, the APPG for Tamils would like to seek clarification on how it is to be implemented. In particular, the APPG for Tamils asks the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) to explain how it plans to conduct the inquiry if Sri Lanka does not cooperate.

The APPG for Tamils also encourages the UK Government to consider how it can encourage the Sri Lankan state and officials, particularly those implicated in the crimes being investigated, to cooperate with the inquiry. The UK Government should use the full range of tools at its disposal to persuade Sri Lanka to comply.

Finally, the APPG for Tamils reminds both the UNHRC and the UK government that the abuses did not end in 2009 – disappearances, arbitrary detention, rape, land grabs and militarisation continue to this day. Therefore, it is crucial that the international community takes immediate action to stop these ongoing crimes, even as the inquiry into past crimes gets underway.

Click here to download this statement (pdf).

Joint Statement on UNHRC Resolution 25/1 on Sri Lanka

admin | March 30th, 2014 | Comments Off

Tamils Worldwide Welcome the Establishment of an International Investigation; Urge UN to Support Political Space for Tamil Aspirations

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses the 25th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

We welcome the establishment of an international investigative mechanism to establish the facts and circumstances pertaining to “serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes” committed in the island of Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution A/HRC/25/L.1/Rev.1 on March 27, 2014, which paves the way for a comprehensive international investigation. We urge that the investigation should cover the period prior to, during and after the end of the armed conflict in 2009.

However, we would have liked to see the resolution better reflect the survivors’ and victims’ narratives seeking justice, reparations and closure for the killing of over 70,000 Tamils in just a few months in 2009 and determining the fate of 146,679 Tamils who remain unaccounted. While Tamils the world over appreciate the well-intended efforts of the 23 nations that voted to adopt this resolution, we regret India’s opposition to the establishment of an international investigation. India’s history of moral leadership and courage, coupled with its unique cultural and intellectual affinity with Eelam Tamils, makes its abstention and vote against the operative paragraph establishing an investigation deeply disappointing.

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UNHRC adopts resolution for international inquiry on Sri Lanka

admin | March 27th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to adopt a resolution to establish an international inquiry into abuses that have been committed in Sri Lanka.

British Tamils Forum and many other organisations have expressed concern regarding the ability of an OHCHR-led inquiry to deliver justice to the victims and survivors; we also regret the unduly narrow scope of the inquiry and the resolution’s failure to note the ethnocratic dimension to the conflict.

Nevertheless, we believe this resolution represents a step forward in the Tamil people’s quest for justice, rights and freedom. British Tamils must work with our allies around the world to strengthen this inquiry, deliver witnesses and evidence, and pursue our campaign for justice until Sri Lanka’s genocide of the Tamil people is halted.

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BTF welcomes explicit call for investigation but proposed resolution still has far to go

admin | March 18th, 2014 | Comments Off

British Tamils Forum calls on the Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Councils to support an international commission of inquiry (COI) into all crimes committed in the island of Sri Lanka prior to, during and after the war ended in 2009. This call must be made in the resolution on Sri Lanka that is being discussed at the 25th session.

As far as Tamils are concerned, the resolution in its current form has a number of serious defects. It fails to recognise the ethnocratic dimension of the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka. The escalating land grabs crisis, which has been widely documented and follows a clear pattern consistent with a programme of structural genocide, is referred to misleadingly as “land disputes”.

In terms of a political solution, the Council should facilitate a free democratic space for the Tamil people to express their political will, instead of prescribing solutions based on the existing Sri Lankan constitution, which has been consistently rejected by the Tamil people and which is at the very root of this 66-year-old conflict.

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British Tamils pay their respects to Tony Benn

admin | March 16th, 2014 | Comments Off

British Tamils Forum is profoundly saddened to hear that Tony Benn, a true friend of the Tamils and other oppressed people across the globe, has passed away. During the genocidal war waged by the Sri Lankan regime in 2009, Tony joined thousands of British Tamils who were protesting in front of the British Parliament, seeking the intervention of the British government to stop the massacre in Mullivaikkal.

A popular politician, who was much loved by the British public, Tony steadfastly condemned the banning of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the United Kingdom. In order to fight for the rights of Tamils to protest with their Tamil national flag, he argued with the Metropolitan Police and waved the Tamil national flag in front of the Houses of Parliament.

On behalf of the British Tamil community, British Tamils Forum pays its respects to Tony Benn and sends its condolences to his family and friends. He will be remembered as a true friend of Tamils, who stood with them in their hour of need.