Tamil diaspora representative addresses British Labour Party conference
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 September 2008, 08:21 GMT]
Leader of British Tamils for Labour, Sen Kandiah, on Monday, addressed the annual conference of the British Labour Party, in front of over 10,000 delegates and the British masses viewing the conference on BBC, urging the Labour Party to note with alarm the increase in violence and human rights violations perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Government against Tamils. He also urged the party to note that the policies of the successive Sinhala governments and the current Sri Lanka constitution, which was adopted without the mandate of the Tamil people lies at the heart of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Sen Kandiah, who is also a member of the British Tamils Forum, declared that
recognising the Tamil people right to self determination is inevitable and essential in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP opened the afternoon of the Labour Party Conference on Monday, under the banner of 'Britain in the World Debate' in his speech which amongst others, stressed the moral duty of Britain and her Foreign Policy engagements in other parts of the World. British Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander and the Defence Secretary Des Browne were at the stage. European Trade Commissioner Hon Peter Mandelson was also amongst the audience including Senior Labour Party Officials, Members of Parliament, Members of European Parliament, Business Leaders, former Cabinet Ministers and dignitaries.
Sen Kandiah was called upon to speak on behalf of the British Tamils and pass a resolution around 3:00 p.m.
Following is the full text of his speech:
"Chair and Conference,
"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the resolution that highlights the sixty years of oppression of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.
"I am a British Tamil. In the last two years four democratically elected Tamil members of Parliament have been shot and killed by the Sri Lankan government. Not long ago, seventeen aid workers, who worked for the International Aid Agency, were gunned down by the government troops.
"What action did the government take? None!
"I can tell you stories of thousands of Tamils who face the same plight. Sri Lanka has become the third country in the history after Soviet Union and Saddam Hussain's dictatorship to use indiscriminate aerial bombardment against its own citizens.
"In Northern Sri Lanka the Government is carrying out genocide, uprooting and causing unexplainable pain and suffering. Tamils are internally displaced, living in fear without food, medicine or shelter.
"The eyes of the world are not looking and no one is telling this tragic story.
"The government of Sri Lanka is continuing this military strategy to resolve what is fundamentally, a political problem? Our Tamil struggle for justice and equality began with non violence. When our cry for justice and equality through non-violence was met with violence and oppression, the call for the independent homeland for Tamils became louder and louder. When it became apparent that non violence means were not working the Tamil people were left with no choice other than to pursue an armed struggle. More than one hundred thousand Tamils lives have been lost the last three decades.
"Therefore, I ask you to back the resolution that calls for the conference to note with alarm the increase in violence and human rights violations perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Government against Tamils living in north and east of the country.
"Secondly, we want the conference to note that the policies of the successive Sinhala governments and the current Sri Lanka constitution, which was adopted without the mandate of the Tamil people lies at the heart of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
"Thirdly, to acknowledge that the time has come for the labour Government to recognise the Tamil people right to self determination is inevitable and essential in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka.