Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:22 pm on 2nd May 2007.

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Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton 6:22 pm, 2nd May 2007

I apologise, but I shall not take interventions as I only have two minutes.

In recent months countries and organisations such as Canada, the European Union and the United States have taken tougher action in respect of the LTTE; Canada, for example, has joined others in proscribing it. I do not want to get into the arguments for and against taking such action, but we should clearly state that we cannot defeat it militarily and neither can we do so by banishing it from the political system. It has to be possible to bring it in. There has to be a political solution to the problem and that must include the Tamil community—a solution cannot be achieved without it. That requires critical and sustained international engagement. My major plea is that the British Government must call on the international community to do more. Some time ago, the international donors talked about putting pressure on in terms of international donations. Many countries give debt relief to Sri Lanka. Are we asking whether that is getting through to all the people in Sri Lanka to ease all of its problems? We need answers to such questions.

I wanted to go into greater detail than time allows on the human rights situation, which is extremely bleak. There is an intensification of the dirty war that mainly impacts on civilians in the north and east of the country. Child recruitment continues on both sides, and there have been more than 700 abductions and disappearances in recent months. Emergency regulations have effectively been turned into prevention of terrorism legislation that contains sweeping powers and is not accountable to the political process. Of course, the LTTE has gone further in rejecting the possibility that the peace process can deliver for it.

So the reality is that the situation has not been bleaker than this for many years. The reality is also that only the international community can make a real difference in bringing the two sides together. I make the plea that I am sure everyone else is making. Although the British Government may not play the main role, in many ways they have a unique role because of our membership of the Security Council, our historical role in Sri Lanka and our membership of the EU. All those factors can be brought to bear to ensure that we do the most important thing: bring the two sides together, reintroduce the ceasefire agreement and get the political process under way.