British Tamils appeal to Blair over humanitarian crisis

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 11:55 GMT]
A coalition of over 80 expatriate Tamil community organisations in the United Kingdom this week appealed publicly to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene diplomatically to end the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka's Northeast. The appeal was published in a full page advert placed in The Times newspaper on Monday by the British Tamils' Forum and signed by 88 expatriate Tamil welfare associations, religious societies, cultural and arts societies, sports clubs and rehabilitation organisations.

"As British Tamils, we implore you not to sit by and allow evil to triumph in Sri Lanka," the petitioners said in their letter to the Prime Minister, citing English philosopher Edmund Burke, who famously said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

"We urge you and your government not to turn a blind eye to the on-going human rights violations being carried out against the civilian population and to do more to oppose those who target civilians with violence and deprivation."

"This appeal has the backing and support of a wide range of groups and organisations working to support the advancement of an estimated 150,000 strong Tamil community in the United Kingdom," they said.

The petitions urged the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to intervene and compel the Government of Sri Lanka to:

"Take immediate action to open the arterial routes and to ensure that the passage of all food, medical and other essential humanitarian relief supplies reaches Vakarai and the Jaffna peninsula.

"Ensure that the civilian population is respected and protected in all circumstances, in accordance with the principle of distinction between civilian and military targets and thus avoid indiscriminate attacks.

"Allow and respect the freedom of movement of the Tamil population in the North and East of the island.

"Ensure the safety of all Aid workers, health professionals and others and allow all such personnel free access to all war affected areas.

"Stop attacks on hospitals and all other health institutions and their surroundings and to recognise and regard such sites as safe zones."

The petitioners wrote the Premier, "you will be aware North and East of Sri Lanka is where Tamil people traditionally lived in Sri Lanka and it is our collective belief that since independence from Britain in 1948 the British Government has had a duty to recognise the long-standing suffering of Tamils in Sri Lanka."

The Forum said its constituent member organisations represented "amongst others, some 3,000 acocuntants, 2,500 doctors, 5,500 nursing and other health and social care professionals, 3,000 engineers, 5,000 small businesses, 250 solicitors and legal practitioners, and over 10,000 other Tamil graduates working in key positions in UK's public, private and voluntary sectors.

 

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