-Tamil Youth in the UK Continues the Diplomatic Meeting with the MPs –
Another important meeting took place on 11th March 2022 via Zoom with Hon. Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for the Crawley, to urge the British government to take an appropriate action to impose sanctions upon the Sri Lankan war criminals including the General Shavendra Silva, the Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan army under the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanction Regime.
This meeting was chaired by Mr Geeth Kulasegaram, legal adviser for the victims. Melissa Dring, Campaign Director of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (SLC), Benjamin Kumar Morris, Deputy Campaign Director of the SLC and Mrs Ambihai K Selvakumar Executive Director of the International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICPPG) attended as guest speakers and briefed the MP on this issue.
In his introduction, Mr Geeth Kulasegaram pointed out that in April 2021, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) submitted 50 pages dossier to the Foreign and Common Wealth Development Office (FCDO) with sufficient evidence of Gen. Shavendra Silva’s involvement in the massive war crimes during the last war in Sri Lanka and in May 2021, the ICPPG submitted evidence of the ongoing military involvement in the abductions and torture in Sri Lanka, but the FCDO has failed to take any appropriate action yet. He also highlighted that Shavendra Siva should be sanctioned not only on the basis of the historical war crimes committed during the last war but also for his involvement in the ongoing abductions and torture in Sri Lanka which is being carried out by the armed forces which operates under his command. He also introduced the victims of recent torture who were present at the meeting as the living witnesses who deserve justice.
During her speech, Melissa Ring outlined the work of the SLC in campaigning for justice and emphasised the need for the British government to act immediately, not only to deliver justice for the crimes committed during the final war but also to prevent the ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. She also referred to the fact that the United States has already imposed ban on Shavendra Silva and his family members last year and therefore there is no reason for the UK to delay.
In Mrs. Ambihai K. Selvakumar’s speech, she emphasised that the Sri Lankan government has not yet been held accountable for their human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and the torture continues with impunity. She also mentioned that the ICPPG is receiving testimonies from victims who are tortured very recently as within last two months. She also stated that the torture and sexual abuse is committed without age discrimination and the youngest victim she has documented victims as young as 10 years and as old as 65 years. On behalf of the victims, she requested Hon. Henry Smith MP to arrange a meeting with the Foreign Minister to meet the victims in person and listen to their accounts firsthand, which she suggested would make the FCDO realise the seriousness of the issue.
Shafeer Khan Mohamed Iqbal, a local constituent of Crawly organised this meeting with Hon. Henry Smith MP and some of the recent victims including Jayaseelan Sivasothy, Christy Nilani Kandeepan, Vijay Vivekanandan, Prasanna Balachandran, Sithambarasubramanian Thiruchenthilnathan, Vidura Vivekanandan and Laxman Thirugnanasamthar participated and shared their horrific experiences in Sri Lanka.
In the conclusion speech, Mr Geeth Kulasegaram insisted that it is an opportunity for the UK to prove its commitment to deliver justice to the Tamils and requested the MP to write to the FCDO behalf of his constituents who are victims of torture and Genocide in Sri Lanka and demand them to take appropriate steps to impose sanctions on Shavendra Silva and other war criminals. constituency. He also requested the MP to join APPG for Tamils and APPG for Magnitsky Sanctions on behalf of the Tamil victims and post a short video on social media about banning Shavendra Silva.
After carefully listening to the briefing and considering the information provided, Hon. Henry Smith MP expressed his full support to the victims and agreed to write to the FCDO on behalf of his constituents, urging them to take the necessary action on the evidence provided to them. He also promised to work with the Tamil victims within his constituency in their endeavour to seek justice.