Foreign Secretary of India S. Jaishankar, visited Sri Lanka from February 18 to 20, for bilateral discussions with their leaders, as part of the continued …
Foreign Secretary William Hague:
Further to my written Ministerial statement of 18 March [40WS], the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution on Sri Lanka on 27 March. This resolution calls for an international investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of international law on both sides during the civil war, and for progress on reconciliation, human rights and a political settlement. The British Government is pleased with this outcome and strongly believes that it was the right decision.
My right Honourable friend the Prime Minister committed the UK to calling for an international investigation following his visit to Sri Lanka last year where he witnessed the situation on the ground first hand. The UK was an important co-sponsor of the resolution, alongside the US, Montenegro, Macedonia and Mauritius.
The passing of this resolution sends an important and strong message to the Sri Lankan government – that they must address the grievances of the recent past in order to help secure lasting peace and reconciliation, and a prosperous future for all the people of Sri Lanka. The resolution represents a significant step forward in ensuring the truth is established for the Sri Lankan people.
By voting in favour of this resolution, the international community has shown that it has listened to the many independent voices, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights herself and domestic support in Sri Lanka, calling for an international investigation and helped the UN HRC to establish a strong and unambiguous resolution. The United Kingdom will continue to work with the UN HRC and our international partners to ensure proper implementation of this resolution. We encourage the Sri Lankan government fully to co-operate with the resolution, and to work alongside the international community for the benefit of its people.
It is important also to recognise that Sri Lanka is an extraordinary country with enormous potential and the end of the conflict presents an opportunity for it to become a strong and prosperous nation. This resolution will help to address the legitimate concerns of all communities. It presents an opportunity to tackle the root causes of conflict, continued human rights concerns and set Sri Lanka on the right path for reconciliation. We hope that the Sri Lankan government will embrace that opportunity.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh who accompanied Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, when she met the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians last Wednesday repeatedly thanked R Sampanthan, MA Sumanthiran and Suresh Premachandran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for having extended an invitation to the Indian PM to visit the island appreciating the ‘usefulness’ of the invitation that had coincided with the controversial Indian delegation’s attendance to the CHOGM, informed sources within the TNA told TamilNet on Monday.
The invitation extended to the Indian PM by the Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister Mr CV Wigneswaran, was interpreted by a section of Tamil media as a move in ‘connivance’ with the diplomatic sections in New Delhi that wanted to counter the unified call from Tamil Nadu State that was demanding full Indian boycott of the Sri Lanka CHOGM.
Following the controversy, Mr Wigneswaran went on record explaining that the invitation was meant to be interpreted as a request to Indian PM to visit North on ‘any future occasion of his visit to the island’ and that there was no specific reference to the CHOGM in his invitation.
The exact content of the invitation has not been revealed to the constituting parties of the TNA or to any politicians except the Wigneswaran-trio, the TNA sources further said.
“Faced with a lack of Sri Lankan Tamil consensus, Indian diplomacy had last month prevailed on the recently elected chief minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, to write to the [Indian] Prime Minister inviting him to Jaffna coinciding with the CHOGM,” The Telegraph India reported on November 14.
“Anticipating such a Jaffna visit, the Indian high commission in Colombo was fully geared for what would have been a historic trip to the Tamil heartland by the Prime Minister,” the report said adding that “[i]nternal opinion in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) was that Manmohan Singh should fly first to Jaffna and address a huge public meeting of Tamils there.”
“Some MEA officials were of the view that it would have replicated a public meeting in Calcutta by Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev in 1955 during a visit by the Soviet leaders that showed the way for future ties with Moscow,” the Telegraph India said elaborating further: “They argued, with diminishing feedback from the political leadership, that with Jaffna Tamil sentiment solidly behind him, the Prime Minister would then have arrived at the CHOGM as a champion of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, which was how New Delhi was viewed before the Indian Peacekeeping Force was sent to the island by Rajiv Gandhi.”
However, as Tamil Nadu’s protest prevailed at least to the level of blocking Indian PM’s attendance to the CHOGM, the ‘Jaffna show’ was stolen by the visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had to issue an ultimatum giving a limited ‘time and space’ to the Sri Lankan State till the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014, political observers in the island said.
The Telegraph: Diplomacy salvages Lanka fiasco Sujatha meets Tamil leaders
Responding to question at the British House of Commons session on Tuesday, William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, confirmed that he and the British Prime Minister will be attending the CHOGM meeting to be held in Sri Lanka in November. He explained that though concerned “about human rights in Sri Lanka, including media freedom” he also thought that “the Commonwealth and its future matter so much that we must do that, no matter what the location”, and that UK would press Sri Lanka on these issues. When asked to clarify, he said “All parties in this House seek progress in Sri Lanka on a wide range of issues, including implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission”, listing a few other issues of ‘reconstruction’ and ‘democracy’. Tamils in UK have demonstrated for well over a year pleading Britain not to participate in the CHOGM.
The transcript of the relevant sections of the debate in the British House of Commons follows:
Andrew Love, Labour (Co-op) MP, Edmonton: “In the light of recent human rights violations, will the Government review their decision to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November? As part of that review, will they set out their objectives and what targets the Sri Lankan Government need to meet?”
William Hague: “We are very concerned, as the hon. Gentleman knows, about human rights in Sri Lanka, including media freedom. We raise those issues regularly with the Sri Lankan Government. The Prime Minister and I have decided to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka. We think that the Commonwealth and its future matter so much that we must do that, no matter what the location. However, we will do so in a way that draws attention to the issues. We and other countries will continue to press Sri Lanka on those issues over the coming weeks.
Stella Creasy, Labour (Co-op) MP, Walthamstow: “Further to the Foreign Secretary’s answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr Love), may I press the Government to be more explicit about what progress they are seeking ahead of the meeting in November, given the very worrying reports about human rights violations in Sri Lanka?”
William Hague: “All parties in this House seek progress in Sri Lanka on a wide range of issues, including implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission; ensuring that there is media freedom and the operation of non-governmental organisations; and ensuring that not only is there reconstruction after the conflict, but that all political persuasions have a genuine ability to participate in democracy. We are looking for continued improvements in Sri Lanka across quite a broad front and we will be able to make those points at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November.”