Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Sri Lanka: follow-up of the UN report

Delivered in Plenary - 12th May 2011

Mr President

Finally Sri Lanka is enjoying peace after a quarter of a century of terrorist insurgency, and the UN report on the Sri Lankan army’s defeat of the Tamil Tigers is heavy on criticism and light on substantive, proven facts.

The approach taken in the report seems to be undermining the efforts now undertaken by the government of Sri Lanka to promote truth and understanding, not least through the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and the government actually having released more than 200 000 detained Tamil prisoners.

Of course, any deliberate atrocities against civilians by the military must be punished. I agree with that, but there is no clear evidence that this was deliberate government policy. I would like to remind the House that the LTTE refused a supervised international surrender offer and preferred instead to choose a bloodbath as their kind of exit strategy, which was appalling.

The consequences now of the international community’s ambivalence towards Sri Lanka are clear: a loss of influence and an inability to shape developments. Meanwhile, China has stepped into the breach and become Sri Lanka’s closest friend and defender at the UN. I hardly need remind colleagues here of China’s approach to human rights.