Almost 200 members of the Tamil community attended a meeting hosted by the Vice Chair of the Tamil All Party Parliamentary Group (APPGt), Joan Ryan MP, which was addressed by leading figures within the Labour Party, including the Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn MP and the Senior Vice Chair of the APPGt Siobhain McDonagh.
In a wide ranging speech discussing human rights abuses, war crimes accountability, and the need for a political solution for the Tamil community, Jeremy Corbyn said that the “Labour Party is committed to the needs of and justice for the Tamil people”, including their demands for “self-determination”.
Corbyn also said that the UK Government should take human rights considerations into account when trading with other countries, including Sri Lanka.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary raised particular concern regarding the reports of torture and disappearances committed against the Tamil people and also said that the “Tamil voice needs to be heard and to be recognised in a new political settlement.”
All Labour MPs who spoke paid special tribute to the work of the Tamil community in the UK and the tremendous contribution they have made to the country’s way of life.
Sen Kandiah, Chair of Tamils for Labour, said: “I was delighted by the turnout on Monday. The event highlighted the tremendous support there is within the Labour Party for the Tamil cause and for our legitimate demands for truth, justice, accountability and self-determination in Sri Lanka.
The Labour Party has always stood up for the Tamil people and we need them now, as much as ever, given the serious concerns we have regarding the regarding the on-going cases of human rights abuses on the island and the lack of respect for the Tamil people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.
We are now only weeks away from London Mayoral, Local and Scottish and Welsh Assembly elections, on May 5th, so I urge all members of the Tamil community to vote Labour so that our voice can continue to be heard.” (Colombo Gazette)