Sri Lanka: Human Rights — [Dame Maria Miller in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:54 pm on 20 March 2024.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden 2:54, 20 March 2024

I will then make a statement of fact: David Cameron worked on behalf of a Chinese state enterprise to promote a commercial port in Sri Lanka, promoting a Rajapaksa-era mega-infrastructure project. I do not believe that that was in the interests of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and I do not think it was in the interests of this country, either. My Tamil constituents deserve better.

There seems to be an attitude in the Foreign Office, which I have witnessed during Labour Governments and Conservative Governments, of there always being a need for discussion and encouragement. Nothing that I have seen in Sri Lanka over the years since the civil war suggests that the Sri Lankan Government will ever react to anything but force and determination, rather than encouragement or negotiation. Hundreds of thousands of people who disappeared during the civil war have still not been found, and not one person has been prosecuted for committing a war crime.

There are more questions than there have ever been. On occasion, it seems to me to be just ticking a box and some mealy-mouthed diplomacy. Tamils deserve a UK Government that will take the lead in calling for Sri Lanka to repeal the sixth amendment, which would give Tamils in Sri Lanka and abroad the ability to come together and call for the political solution they hope for. Then we would have a Government with a principled position on Sri Lanka.