Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

MEP cautions that "Some LTTE militants may try to seek asylum in Europe"

Asian Tribune - 6 February 2009

The European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday ( 5 February ) passed an urgent resolution on the "Situation in Sri Lanka" with the support of all major political groups, with the exception of the socialists, calling on the LTTE to lay down their arms and participate in the democratic political process.

Speaking on the resolution Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman MEP Charles Tannock cautioned that "Some LTTE militants may try to seek asylum in Europe".

The European Parliament endorsed the statement by the Tokyo Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, the US and the EU), which calls on the LTTE to discuss with the Government of Sri Lanka the "modalities for ending hostilities, including the laying down of arms, renunciation of violence, acceptance of the Government of Sri Lanka’s offer of amnesty, and participation as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution".

The resolution concludes by calling on the Council, the Commission and the Governments of the Member States to "redouble their efforts to help bring a stable and just peace to Sri Lanka and to restore security and prosperity".


The statement released by the Conservative Group in the European Union Parliament :

Time for a Fresh start in Sri Lanka - Tamil Tigers should lay down their arms As Sri Lankan government forces intensify their military operations to root out the last remnants of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) holed up in a small area near Mullaitivu, the European Parliament has called on the insurgents to lay down their arms and participate in the democratic political process. The Parliament passed its sixth resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka with the support of all major political groups, with the exception of the socialists.

British Conservative Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, who chairs the informal Parliamentary association Friends of Sri Lanka, and has initiated most of the Parliament's resolutions, commented:

"The British government in particular, as well as the EU and other friendly governments, must do all they can to assist the Sri Lankan authorities in humanitarian relief in the Northern areas that have now been liberated from the grip of the LTTE ("Tamil Tigers").

"To prevent further carnage, for the sake of all the civilians now trapped by the fighting, and to improve the future prospects for Sri Lanka, the remaining LTTE elements should now give up."

"It is then vital that the Government moves quickly to reassure all its Tamil citizens that it will be vigorous and pro-active in addressing both their economic and political concerns. This is not only the right thing to do but will also help ensure that any residual support for armed insurgency and terrorism evaporates."

"The development of the long-neglected areas in the North and East, which for many years have been under LTTE control, should be a top priority. This is where the international community should help. Government action to restore full media freedom, investigate allegations of human rights abuses, and sign up to the Ottawa Treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines, will all help reassure foreign donors and encourage international action to stifle any continued LTTE fund-raising."

Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, Charles Tannock MEP, said:

"The EU must be vigilant against LTTE militants who attempt to seek asylum in Europe. Throughout this ferocious twenty-six year civil war the LTTE has pioneered atrocious terrorist tactics. While we support the government's offer of amnesty for the majority of LTTE, it is vital that no-one responsible for the most serious war crimes is allowed to get away with impunity."


Full text of Statement by MEP Charles Tannock, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman, at the debate on the Urgency resolution on the ‘Situation in Sri Lanka” at the European Parliament , Strasbourg, on 5 February 2009:

“Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war seems finally to be coming to a conclusion. The LTTE, which has been blacklisted by the EU as a terrorist organization, must now surely lay down its arms and surrender.

The EU and other co-chairs have urged the LTTE to do so. The LTTE’s response will show us whether it really has the best interests of Tamils at heart. The LTTE is using its front organizations in Europe to maximum propaganda effect and raising money by extortion internationally.

Some LTTE militants may try to seek asylum in Europe. Throughout this ferocious twenty-six year civil war the LTTE has pioneered atrocious terrorist tactics such as suicide bombings that are now used in many other parts of the world.

The Sri Lankan army has therefore had to deploy all means at its disposal to counteract this brutal insurgency but its clear that the casualty figures have been exaggerated and some e.g. the AP story of 300 civilians killed has now been withdrawn as the supposed author subsequently denied authorship. Nevertheless the death of civilians in a war zone is tragic whenever and wherever it occurs.

Clearly the Sri Lankan armed forces cannot claim an unblemished record, but they have not sought to deliberately exploit civilians and put them in harm’s way like the LTTE has allegedly done. If the war really is soon to be over, it is essential that Sri Lanka turns its attentions to post-conflict disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

The marginalization of Tamils at the expense of the majority Sinhalese needs to be addressed in an urgent and permanent manner to ensure a stable and sustainable multi-ethnic society with regional devolution. The EU should also ensure resources are at Sri Lanka’s disposal to support post-conflict development.

Although we should support the government's offer of amnesty for the majority of LTTE, it is vital that no-one responsible for the most serious war crimes is allowed to get away with impunity.”