The British Tamil Forum (BTU) yesterday claimed that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and one of the candidates for Deputy Prime Ministers Peter Hain, MP had stated that Sri Lankan Tamils should have the right to self-determination.
The BTU said in a media release: `At a meeting attended by the Prime Minister elect, various Cabinet Ministers and six Deputy Prime Minister candidates, at the House of Parliament on 21st May 2007, answering a question on how the British Political Establishment can assist in bringing a political solution to the Sri Lankan human crisis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and one of the Deputy Prime Minister candidates Right Hon MP Peter Hain stated that the Sri Lankan Tamils should have the right for self determination.
As a panel, all six candidates agreed that the Sri Lankan conflict can not be resolved by military means and must be progressed through a peace process. Further, there was a general consensus that the Tamils sufferings and the human rights violations must stop immediately.
The Secretary of State for International Development Right Hon MP Hilary Benn stated that the temporary freezing of aid to Government of Sri Lanka was a decision he had personally made to express the displeasure of the British Government regarding serious human rights violations that are being inflicted at the civilian population. He further stated that the International Community must play a part in facilitating the peace process and that both conflicting parties, namely the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam must forget the grievances of the past and progress through a political solution.
Right Hon MP Hazel Blears, who is the current Chair of the Labour Party and a contender for the Deputy Prime Minister post, said that Britain can exert greater influence in the peace process by involving the wider International Community. She also acknowledged the fact that the British Tamils Forum who had a productive meeting in the recent past with the Home Secretary. It is generally assumed that the Chair of the Labour Party was referring to a meeting at which the current Home Secretary Right Hon MP (Dr) John Reed who agreed to review the proscription of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist organisation, if a formal appeal is lodged.
Right Hon MP Harriet Harman, Minister responsible for Criminal Justice stressed the importance of the Tamil Diaspora to be actively engaged with the Political Establishment and the Policy Makers of Her Majesty`s Government.`