EU Resolution agaisnt the war crimes of Sri Lankan Government

Press release for immediate use:

EU Resolution agaisnt the war crimes of Sri Lankan Government: Conservative Party denounces United Nations report on Sri Lanka at the European Parliament

Today (12/5/11) the European Parliament debated a resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka after a recent UN report.

This report claims that the Sri Lankan military massacred more than 40,000 people in the final phase of the war that ended in May 2009. They bombed hospitals, schools, temporary shelters and so-called ‘no fire zones’.

 400,000 refugees were taken to ‘detention camps’ with no proper facilities. Deaths and gross humanitarian abuses took place during the transportation and in the camps.

This debate was pushed by the left groups, the Greens etc. The final drafted resolution, after compromises with many other groups, was weak and lacked clarity (See pdf).

 However, a number of MEPs spoke in favour of the resolution and highlighted the immediate need for an international war crimes investigation. Paul Murphy, MEP for Dublin, Ireland and supporter of Tamil Solidarity, registered his support for the resolution with reservation (see video below). Given the limited time to raise the opposition he correctly pointed out a few key weaknesses of the resolution. His full statement is attached below.

 Tamil Solidarity welcomes Paul Murphy’s statement. The resolution was viciously opposed by Charles Tannock, Conservative MEP for London and Conservative spokesperson for foreign affairs in Brussels.

 He opposed the use of the term ‘genocidal government’ used against the Sri Lankan government and attacked the UN report as “light on substantial proven facts”. He further claimed that “the approach taken in the report seems to be undermining the efforts now taken by the government of Sri Lanka to promote truth and understanding not least through the LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission]. And the government actually has released more than 200,000 detained prisoners”.  

Tamil Solidarity condemns this hideous attempt to hide the massacre that took place in Sri Lanka and the Conservative Party’s attempt to defend the perpetrators in the hope of gaining some economic advantage.

 The ruthless logic behind this was later revealed by Mr Tannock. He states that China stepped in as a friend of Sri Lanka in the breach of a loss of influence of the international community! This has been the foreign policy line of the Conservative Party for a long time. The fact that he casually accepted that the Sri Lankan government previously imprisoned 200,000 people is also a revelation of the brutal character of Conservative Party policies.

 Previously, during Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s infamous visit to deliver a speech at the Oxford Union, Mr Liam Fox, Conservative secretary of state for defence in the UK, met the Sri Lankan president in secret, despite the widespread opposition of Tamil-speaking people in the country and allegations of war crimes published in the media. Tamil Solidarity strongly condemns the Conservative Party’s policy of supporting a government that committed such a massacre.

Video of Paul Murphy, MEP’s Speach:

Paul Murphy’s written explanation of vote – 12/5/2011
Sri Lanka: follow up of the UN report (B7-0324/2011)

I voted in favour of this resolution despite some serious reservations. Noting that the Sri Lankan government is identified in the UN report as a key perpetrator of war crimes, we cannot expect it to do a proper investigation or take any active measures. The government made it clear that they will not comply with any call for an independent inquiry that has the power to prosecute.
I do not accept the legitimacy of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It was set up by the government to deflect attention from a real investigation. For real justice what is needed is a democratically elected tribunal made up of workers and poor people from all sections of the community.
There will not be any progress towards any political devolution or self-determination for Tamil-speaking people under this government or in a society dominated by capitalism and landlordism.
My party’s sister party in Sri Lanka, the United Socialist Party, and the Tamil Solidarity Campaign support the right to self-determination for Tamil-speaking people. We also demand: All the detention camps be shut down immediately, all political prisoners be released, all attacks on the media to end and all repressive legislation be repealed.