Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 5:03 pm on 2nd May 2007.

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Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 5:03 pm, 2nd May 2007

I thank the hon. Lady for that contribution and she makes a valid point. I hope that the Minister will be able to say what the Government are doing to ensure that the misery and suffering that the blockade is causing ceases. If we are to have a ceasefire, we need dialogue, and that can happen only if the misery and suffering abate.

The Sri Lankan Government must also ensure that rogue elements in their army are not acting independently against Tamils. Not only is that wrong and a violation of the human rights treaties that the Government of Sri Lanka signed up to, but it provokes and encourages the LTTE to seek revenge. As has been proved time and again around the world, not least in Northern Ireland, a cessation in violence has to be a precursor to productive peace talks. A negotiated settlement through peaceful means is the only way forward for both parties if they wish to see their people prosper.

Sri Lanka as a country has enormous potential for the future. The people involved in the conflict need to recognise that the future of their country lies in investing in its future prosperity and not in bombs and bullets. In the 21st century, the world's centre of gravity is moving from Europe and the Atlantic to the south and the east. Sri Lanka needs to ensure that by continuing its conflict, it does not miss out on the opportunities that this century will bring for all the people in that region.

Recent history has shown time and again that most conflicts are eventually resolved by dialogue. The LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government have a simple choice. They can either continue the conflict, with many more people suffering and dying on both sides, and decide to engage in dialogue at some future point, or they can engage in productive talks now and prevent the needless suffering and death that are the immediate alternatives.

It really is time for both sides to engage in dialogue, to have a ceasefire and to ensure that peace once more reigns in that beautiful island. I thank the House for listening.