A senior group of Labour MPs is calling on the UK Government to take immediate measures to protect and promote fundamental rights and freedoms for Tamils in Sri Lanka and to stop all forced returns to the island from the UK, in light of the on-going constitutional crisis in the country.
In letters to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary, the MPs have raised serious concerns about the potential repercussions for the Tamil community – “who have so often borne the brunt of terrible human rights violations” – following President Sirisena’s attempts to dissolve Parliament and appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, a man who conducted a reign of terror during his 10 year rule.
The Labour MPs are pressing the Foreign Secretary to consider the suspension of EU trade benefits to Sri Lanka as the crisis continue. Joan Ryan MP also urged the Home Secretary to conduct an urgent review of his department’s asylum and returns policy to Sri Lanka and halt all forced returns to the country in order “to ensure that no more lives are put at risk.” For the seventh consecutive year, Freedom from Torture named Sri Lanka as the top country of origin for torture survivors.
Sen Kandiah, the Chair of Tamils for Labour, said:
“With Sri Lanka’s constitutional crisis deepening over recent days, it is so important that the Tamil community see that Labour MPs are on their side.
We are indebted to our Labour friends in Parliament for all their support on these important issues and in pressing the UK Government to act on our behalf.
Tamils for Labour agrees wholeheartedly that all forced returns to Sri Lanka should be stopped – it’s time that the Home Secretary protects Tamils from further harm.”