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UK says no to CHOGM boycott

2013 Jul 31

Britain has rejected a demand from the British Tamils Forum (BTF) to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.

The BTF said that at a recent meeting with Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt he had said that the UK Government has made a decision to attend the summit which reflects the importance of the Commonwealth as well as the opportunity for attendees to see the situation on the ground.

A BTF statement quoted Burt as saying that the UK Government had been clear on its concerns on Sri Lanka and this was proven when Britain supported the resolution on Sri Lanka at the March Human Rights Council.

The BTF however said that British Tamils were disappointed at British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to visit Sri Lanka in November 2013, for CHOGM.

Tamil representatives from a number of Tamil groups based in the UK explained to the minister that the summit in Sri Lanka would be against the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth charter signed by the Queen on Commonwealth Day this year.

“The delegation explained the culture of impunity, lack of accountability and continuing structural genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka  describing both historical and current events and discussing their moral and legal ramifications. They criticised the UK’s role in the failure to protect Tamils in 2009 and the failure to bring Sri Lanka to account ever since – a failure that sets the conditions for continued abuses with impunity by the Sri Lankan state. The Minister was sympathetic to the concerns expressed by the Tamil representatives but differed on the suggested course of action to address these concerns,” the BTF said.

British Tamils Forum said it will continue to engage with the UK Government and will seek justice through an International Independent Investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)

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