Sri Lanka

Part of Opposition Day — [10th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 29th April 2009.

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Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton 6:30 pm, 29th April 2009

We must send the message that we are friends of Sri Lanka but that we cannot stand back and watch as this crisis unfolds. We cannot do nothing. Yes, there is expertise within the UN, the EU and the Commonwealth, and that ought to be used. The hand of friendship is offered and we hope that the Sri Lankan Government will take it up.

The UN must be seen to be doing more. It is not just a case of, "Let's have these discussions behind closed doors." We have to say publicly, within the forums of the United Nations, that we as a Government and we as a Parliament stand out against what is happening in Sri Lanka and that we will do our utmost, publicly as well as privately, to stop it.

My final point, which was raised earlier, is that ending the humanitarian crisis is only the first move. If we do not want to find ourselves in another humanitarian crisis two, three or five years down the road, as has happened before in Sri Lanka, we need a viable peace process. The first thing that we need is a ceasefire, and one now would enhance the prospect of a proper peace process. The process itself is incredibly important and I think that our experience in Northern Ireland has a great deal to offer on how that process should be carried out. Most importantly, the peace process must have international support. Britain, India, the United States and the United Nations must be entirely behind it, and should ensure that it encapsulates all the populations in Sri Lanka and all the different political trends.

There are moderate Tamils as well as Tamils who support the LTTE: the opinion held by the Muslim community is very different from other views, and there is a range of political opinion even in the Sinhala community. All that has to be taken on board, but if we can bring those people together, there is a real prospect for peace.

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