May 24 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Monday, January 14, 2013
A Redbridge MP is calling for “justice for the Tamil people” as pressure piles on the Sri Lankan government to investigate alleged atrocities in its 25-year civil war.
Ilford North MP Lee Scott spoke in a debate on Tuesday over how the UK can encourage the government to start a full inquiry.
The United Nations has estimated that up 40,000 civilians were killed during the last few weeks of the conflict, which ended in 2009.
The Sri Lankan army has been accused of war crimes against the Tamil population during the conflict between the government and separatist group the Tamil Tigers.
The Tigers, classified by some countries as a terrorist group, were also accused of atrocities including using child soldiers, ethnic cleansing, executions and using civilians as human shields.
Mr Scott, who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Tamils, said: “I have contacted the government asking them what happened and never had a reply.
“Tamils living in the diaspora want to know what happened to their families.
“I can’t say who was or was not responsible but someone committed those atrocities and there’s got to be accountability.”
The Sri Lankan government was given until March 2013 by the UN to demonstrate it was implementing plans for investigation, trials and reconciliation.
In the Westminster Hall debate, Mr Scott said the UN had “let down the Tamil people” in previous years.
The Conservative MP called for an international inquiry that “shows what has happened and who is responsible so that those involved are brought to justice”.
According to the 2011 census, 7,248 people born in Sri Lanka are living in Redbridge – more than 2.5 per cent of the borough’s residents.
Campaigner Cumarasamy Sithamparapillai said he still does not know what happened to family members who disappeared near the end of the war.
Mr Sithamparapillai, a member of the British Tamil Forum, moved to London in 1981 for a university scholarship.
He said: “I know there are a number of my relatives who are still not accounted for.
“I want justice with dignity for the Tamils.”