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British MP asks Sri Lanka to listen instead of offering 'knee-jerk' defensive responses

2013 Nov 21

A British parliamentarian today asked Sri Lanka to listen to the calls from the international community to address the accountability for the allegations of war crimes instead of denying those occurred during the three decades of war.

Alistair Burt, Conservative Party MP for North East Bedfordshire and the former Foreign Office Minister today defended the decision taken by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague to attend the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo saying that it was difficult but right.

Burt said in a statement that the decision was justified by media coverage of Cameron's visit to the island's North, a first by a foreign leader since 1948, and his determination to speak truth to the power that is the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's family.

The MP said Cameron's visit and giving Sri Lankan President a deadline to conduct a credible, transparent and independent inquiry into the alleged human right violations were the easy measures and the hard works is yet to begin.

"Though it may be surprising to say so, this has been the easy bit. It will be harder," he said.

He said what is even more important is to work with friends of Sri Lanka to demonstrate why a positive response from that country, driving forward the recommendations of its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and tackling accountability for the past, does not denigrate ending the appalling terrorism of the Tamil Tigers but lays the base for the only serious chance of reconciliation in the future.

"It would help if Sri Lanka and its representatives actually listened to what was being said by so many, rather than offer knee-jerk defensive responses," Burt said.

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