Belated regret by UK for arms deal with Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 31 March 2010, 06:31 GMT]
“In the case of Sri Lanka, arms were exported during ceasefire periods, which, in retrospect was regrettable,” the report released Wednesday by the British House of Commons said. It also mentions that, “[t]he final offensive raised “grave concerns” for human rights,” and adds that the British Government had been concerned about the Sri Lankan situation “for quite a long period of time”. “[t]he review and subsequent revocation of nine extant licences for exports to Sri Lanka is to be welcomed,” the report said in conclusion. Considering the thousands of innocent Tamils killed during the Sri Lanka armed forces’ offensive on Vanni and their continuing distress, the belated regret expressed in diplomatic terms does not in anyway help to erase the cause of the regret, representatives of Tamil civil organizations in UK said.

Some excerpts of the report follow:

“In our last Report, following the escalation of hostilities in Sri Lanka, we examined licences for arms exports to that country. In April 2009, Bill Rammell MP, then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told us that the FCO's judgment was that an embargo, or the threat of one, was not the best vehicle for trying to secure a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. The Minister told us that few licences had been granted for exports to Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2007 which he cited as evidence of procedures being effective.”

“He added that: "due to the lack of access and information surrounding the final stages of the conflict collection information on how helicopters were used in the conflict has been challenging" and that based on the information available "we can say the helicopters were used for medical evacuation, logistical support, re-supply and ad hoc search and rescue operations and to transport VIPs including foreign delegations up to the northern region. They were used to much lesser extent moving troops themselves to forward areas […]."

 

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