by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has urged the UK to intervene on its behalf at the UN Security Council to prevent the Sri Lankan government exploiting United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001 (UNSCR 1373) to attack 16 Diaspora groups as well as 424 individuals.
The UK based outfit registered under the UK Companies Act of 2006 alleged that UNSCR 1373 was being used by Sri Lanka to intimidate Tamil speaking people living both in and outside the country. The targeted persons included UK citizens as well as those residing in UK.
The UK is a member of Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
GTF President Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel in a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Philip Hammond, MP requested the UK to formally discuss with members of the UN
Security Council ways and means to rectify flaws in UNSCR 1373. The UN Security Council comprises five permanent members US, Russia, China, UK and France and a number of elected countries.
Alleging that Sri Lanka was a rogue state, the GTF leader warned that other governments, too, could abuse the UNSCR 1373 unless remedial action was taken. The GTF asserted that the UK was obliged to protect its citizens both in and outside the country.
The GTF wants the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to act swiftly to ensure that the UNSCR 1373 was not used to impede the ongoing investigation into accountability issues in Sri Lanka undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The GTF also sought the backing of Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to its unprecedented initiative.
GTF spokesperson, Suren Surendiran made available a copy of Dr. S.J. Emmanuel’s letter dated October 1 to The Island.
The GTF sought the UK’s intervention in response to Sri Lanka issuing a list on March 21, 2014 which dealt with Diaspora organizations and individuals on the basis of them being involved in terrorism. GTF President Dr. S.J. Emmanuel said: “Some of those named individuals are citizens of the United Kingdom. There are also others who are not citizens, but residents, in the UK. The list also contains organizations, like GTF, which are registered under the UK Companies Act (2006).”
Dr. S.J. Emmanuel alleged that the Sri Lankan move was meant to intimidate those who had been demanding truth, justice and accountability since the conclusion of the conflict. “It is also an attempt to silence those who support the efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and his office in establishing the investigation on Sri Lanka, as initiated by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in March 2014.”
The GTF claimed that the international community couldn’t look the other way when Sri Lanka brazenly targeted those who have been fighting for their rights.
Having referred to statements critical of Sri Lanka attributed to MP Hugo Swire, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird and his deputy Ms. Lynne Yelich MP, the GTF leader said that representatives of those proscribed organizations met the US Assistant Secretary Of State for Central and South Asia, Ms. Nisha Biswal.
Responding to GTF’s latest move, a senior government spokesman alleged that the GTF was trying to exploit the UK ruling party ahead of parliamentary polls in May next year. The official said that various governments, including Western powers had utilized UNSCR 1373 to crackdown on those engaged in terrorism/clandestine activities. “Our decision to use the UN resolution is in accordance with international fight against terrorism. Whatever, the GTF says; the UK outfit is nothing but an LTTE front.”