British FM meets Tamil expats in London
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 September 2008, 13:17 GMT]
During a community meeting attended by over one thousand British Tamils, UK Foreign Minister Lord Mark Malloch Brown, said: "UK Government believes that minorities in any country must have their right to practice the fullest and free to expression of self determination. "We are extremely concerned about how this government behaves and treats the Tamil community, and we are using all the means available to us to press the government to do otherwise."
L-R: Hon Robert Evans MEP, Rt. Hon Lord Mark Malloch Brown - Deputy Foreign Secretary and Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa Asia and the UN,lor and Leader of the Association of Tamil Councillors Thaya Idaikadar, Member of Parliament for Leicester (East) and the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Rt. Hon Keith Vaz.
The meeting was organised by the Harrow West Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Rt. Hon Gareth Thomas to discuss the current situation in Sri Lanka with his Tamil constituents. This meeting was also attended by Hon Robert Evans Member of European Parliament for London, Member of Parliament for Leicester (East) and the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Rt. Hon Keith Vaz and Harrow Councillor and Leader of the Association of Tamil Councillors Thaya Idaikadar.He said that both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were responsible for breaking of the Cease Fire Agreement and it is wrong to blame just the one side for the breakdown. Commenting on the situation in the East, Mr Brown said, on one level the situation is secure and peaceful than before, but he does not see political reconciliation that will bring everyone to the democratic political process.Commenting on the current situation, Mr Brown said, "both sides should allow access to the international humanitarian workers to help the people of North. We are extremely concerned. We have through the Secretary General of the United Nations and our High Commissioner made representations to both parties to ensure free and safe access remain opened for humanitarian workers to assist the people of North."British Government's overriding position is that there is no military solution to this problem in Sri Lanka. This problem should be resolved by finding a political solution. This message was relayed by me to the President, his brother the Defence Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC). UK government funded a trip of members of the APRC to visit Northern Ireland to see for them at first hand of conflict resolution. The aim was to aid the thinking so that they will come with innovative solutions and to re-start the political process.On harassment of journalists, he said he believes journalists should be given access to the theater of war. "We are constantly pressing through the EU and the UN to protect against these abductions and disappearances," Brown said, adding, "We do not have the right to tell any country how to rule or run their country. All we can do is with our international partners we can press for better governance and compliance to human rights laws." Hon Robert Evans Member of European Parliament related his experiences during his various visits to Sri Lanka. He was non-apologetic for his team's press statement after their recent visit to Sri Lanka as an EU Delegation. He explained the various excuses that the GoSL gave to delay and possibly shorten their trip to the East of Sri Lanka where he was scheduled to meet Pillayan, the new Chief Minister and spend time exploring the ground situation without any government agents present. He said that they were amazed how the government claims on the one hand that the East has been 'cleared' yet the delegation was not allowed to travel to Batticaloa (East of Sri Lanka) due to security problems. In the end, the delegation never went to the East of Sri Lanka at all.He also said how he found the LTTE running a very efficient general administration and hospitals within the Vanni area soon after Tsunami struck Sri Lanka.The meeting came to a close soon after 8:30 p.m.
Aerial view of the crowd from the balcony.