Britain’s Liberal Democrats back Amnesty’s Sri Lanka campaign

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 01:38 GMT]
Britain’s third largest political party, the Liberal Democrats, came out strongly Tuesday in support of Amnesty International’s campaign to promote independent human rights monitors in Sri Lanka and called on all sides to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. The party said one of its MEPs, Saj Karim, Liberal Democrat Member of the Human Rights Committee, has tabled a key amendment to the annual European Parliament report into Human Rights.

Saj Karim, MEP
Saj Karim, MEP
“Increasing abductions, illegal killings and child recruitment in Sri Lanka are all going on unchecked and victims do not receive justice. The intensified fighting over the last year has forced over 300,000 people to flee their homes. At least 1000 people have been forcibly disappeared since the beginning of 2006,” a statement emailed by the Liberal Democrats said.

“To coincide with Sri Lanka's Cricket World Cup Semi-Final Clash with New Zealand, the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament are supporting Amnesty International's campaign "Play by the Rules," pressing for independent human rights monitors and calling on all sides to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law,” the party said.

"We are concerned by abuses by all parties to the Sri Lankan conflict. Civilians are killed, abducted and forcibly disappeared every day at the hands of government forces, Tamil Tigers, the Karuna faction and other armed groups. All parties are breaching international law by failing to protect innocent civilians," said Mr. Karim, MEP

Sarah Ludford, MEP
Sarah Ludford, MEP
Sarah Ludford MEP, Liberal Democrat Vice Chair of the Human Rights Committee who co-signed Saj Karim's amendment, said: "Cricket is a great game and the Sri Lankan people are rightly proud of their ethnically diverse national cricket team, which symbolises the best of their country.”

“[But] whilst we celebrate Sri Lanka's success in the World Cup, we mustn't forget the hundreds of thousands of people who have had to flee the fighting and now live in temporary shelters. These people are not able to live in safety, let alone enjoy the cricket," she said.

"The situation in Sri Lanka has become so desperate for local people that urgent action is needed. Civilians desperately need better protection and a key goal of our campaign is to press for independent human rights monitors to investigate human rights abuses and identify the perpetrators, so they can be brought to justice,” she said.

Liz Lynne, MEP
Liz Lynne, MEP
Liz Lynne MEP, who also co-signed the amendment and is a member of the European Parliament's delegation to South Asia, concluded:

"The European Union as Co-Chair of the peace process and a key donor in the region must take the lead on a Sri Lanka Resolution in the UN Human Rights Council. It would be a small step for all parties to allow access for independent human rights monitors, but it would make a huge difference to the lives of ordinary Sri Lankans."

The Liberal Democrats emphasised that neither they nor Amnesty International are calling for a boycott of the Sri Lankan cricket team or Sri Lankan sports teams in general.


External Links:
UK: Sri Lanka: Human Rights is the issue not Cricket says Karim


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