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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Statement: Tamil Remembrance Day

Ahead of the Tamil Remembrance Day on Sunday 27th November, Jean Lambert MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with South Asia, has made the folllowing statement:

Firstly, I would like to express my deepest sympathy for all those affected by the civil war in Sri Lanka.  After more than 25 years of conflict, we at the European Parliament welcome the moves by the international community to conduct a fair and through investigation into alleged crimes during the war.

In its resolution of May 2011, the European Parliament expressed concern over the allegations outlined in the UN Panel of Experts Report, and called for these allegations to be addressed for lasting reconciliation to be possible.  We also called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission performs in an impartial and transparent manner, and that the results of the investigation are made public at the earliest possible date.

At present, the LLRC report is in the hands of the Sri Lankan government.  Although there is widespread criticism of the Commission, I believe any positive proposals in the report should not be dismissed and the Sri Lankan government should take a lead role in implementing such proposals.  I encourage the Sri Lankan government to firstly release the report into the public domain, and promote genuine and effective debate on its findings. Furthermore, I would support a move by the Sri Lankan Parliament to ensure it plays its democratic role in scrutinising the report and ensuring its implementation.

We at the EU level welcome the cessation of the Emergency Regulations and look forward to the subsequent removal of restrictions on civil and political rights: They should not simply re-appear in other legislation.  The ending of these laws should now open the way for the release or trial of many of those detained without charge; a practice which we criticise in any country.  Furthermore, we continue to push for investigations into both past and ongoing reports of disappearances, and for any perpetrators to be held accountable, whoever they may be. It is my hope that efforts in this direction will lead to a more democratic and inclusive future for Sri Lanka.

Finally, the European Parliament is aware and active on the need for lasting reconciliation in Sri Lanka. In my capacity as Chair of the South Asia delegation, we continue to identify issues of language, land education and political involvement of minority groups as key focus areas.  Through bilateral and public meetings, we strive to promote the active inclusion of the Tamil people, minorities and disadvantaged groups at all decision-making levels in Sri Lanka.  We also call for genuine participation, free from fear and in full compliance with internal standards of civil and political rights.

I wish to see lasting peace for the Tamil community, and all Sri Lankan communities affected by the war.  Only through mutual recognition of respect for human rights, democractic processes, accountability and inclusion of society as a whole, can Sri Lanka move forward.