London: The Tamil community begins a campaign tomorrow urging the UK to support sanctions against Sri Lanka including the withdrawal of the GPS + trade concession, for human rights violations and other abuses.
It is to tell the British government that there is a ‘compelling case’ for separation as the only solution for peace and stability in Sri Lanka.Led by the British Tamils Forum (BTF) which some allege is an LTTE front, the meeting in Harrow will be attended by two British ministers and a member of the European Parliament who recently created controversy in Sri Lanka and subsequently submitted a critical report on President Rajapaksa’s administration to the European Parliament. The name of Robert Evans, of the MEP, has often been associated with pro-LTTE protests in London and elsewhere.
One of the British ministers, Gareth Thomas, a parliamentary under secretary, well known for his anti-Sri Lankan views, is MP for West Harrow which has a substantial Tamil vote bank.
With the ruling Labour Party’s political fortunes plummeting as never before for several decades, Gareth Evans has to fight for survival by catering to this Tamil constituency, analysts say.
It is Gareth Thomas who has written to Tamil households in his electorate inviting them to attend this public meeting to be held in Rayners Lane in Harrow.
Using its influence in the Labour Party, the BTF and others have got Gareth Thomas to invite Lord Malloch-Brown, the foreign office minister in charge also of Sri Lanka, to spend one hour answering questions on British foreign policy particularly relating to Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile other Tamil voices that are not consonant with the BTF agenda, has asked Gareth Thomas for assurances that they will not be refused entry to the meeting as has happened previously when strong arm methods were said to have been used to prevent the airing of other Tamil opinions.
While the BTF has managed to round up two of their faithful- Gareth Thomas and Robert Evans- to lead the charge against the Sri Lanka government, it is not too certain that Lord Malloch-Brown would unequivocally support their agenda for sanctions and condemn the Colombo government.
The BTF has advised the Tamil community which has been asked to bring their families to the meeting, to concentrate on two areas – human rights violations and IDPs and separation as the solution to the Sri Lanka conflict.
They also intend to rely heavily on the Robert Evans critical report to the European Parliament to demand an end to GPS+.
Earlier the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils ( perhaps the only parliamentary group for a specific ethnic community) issued a statement calling on firm action by Britain for sanctions, including UN sanctions, for violence ‘unleashed’ against the Tamils and for sending out foreign NGOs from the conflict areas.