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Home > Tamil Eelam Struggle for FreedomInternational Frame & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > United Kingdom > World Tamils Forum London Conference Calls for Immediate Ceasefire & Recognises Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the authentic representatives of the Tamil people

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World Tamils Forum London Conference Calls for Immediate Ceasefire &
Recognises Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the authentic representatives of the Tamil people

TamilNet, Friday, 27 March 2009
[see also Conference Press Release by British Tamil Forum ]

World Tamils Forum London Conference  - Press Conference
[L-R] Rev. Fr. S. J. Emmanuel,  Jan Jananayagam and Ana Pararajasingham,
chairing the press conference.

45 Tamil dignitaries from 21 countries gathered in London on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 and Thursday 26 March 2009 to resolve that an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka was essential and that humanitarian access to the Vanni should be permitted immediately. The delegates also said that the Eezham Tamils should determine their own destiny and emphasized that the people of the traditional Tamil homeland had not only given their democratic mandate to the homeland concept, but they also have reiterated that mandate at every juncture of their political discourse.

World Tamils Forum London Conference
Des Browne sitting on the far right, with Sen Kandiah (British Tamils Forum),
Mike Griffiths (Member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party)
and Lord Falconer (former Lord Chancellor)

Wednesday saw the delegates take part in an internal session, addressing issues such as the humanitarian tragedy, the genocidal war and the right to defend, the political processes of establishing legitimacy and the role of international actors in the conflict. Based on discussion papers, the delegates established their position on each of the four issues and shared them with the group.

At the end of Wednesday, a resolution was drafted that covered the main points the conference participants wished to be stressed. This resolution was then unanimously affirmed by a show of hands on Thursday.

On Thursday, the delegates were addressed by distinguished speakers including American civil rights campaigner Rev. Jesse Jackson and Des Browne MP, the British Special Envoy to Sri Lanka and former defence secretary. Other guests included Lord Falconer, Siobhan McDonagh MP, Simon Hughes MP, Keith Vaz MP and Sir Jimmy Savile.

World Tamils Forum London Conference - Siobhan McDonaugh MP
Siobhan McDonaugh MP addressing the delegates

World Tamils Forum London Conference - Simon Hughes MP
Simon Hughes MP addressing the delegates

Rev. Jackson spoke of the moral obligation to stop the killing and the need to bring �resolution and visibility� to the conflict in Sri Lanka.

World Tamils Forum London Conference - Des Browne
Des Browne, UK Prime Minister's Special Envoy to SriLanka

Des Browne spoke of the numbers killed, saying that 70,000 was probably an understatement. He focused on the pressing need, which he identified as the humanitarian crisis, and the hundreds of thousands of Tamil caught in the conflict zone.

Stating that civilians must have the freedom to leave the conflict zone, Mr. Browne said the situation was made worse by the largest number of casualties occurring in the safe zones. He condemned �these acts of violence� and said that he expected the Sri Lankan government to investigate every death.

The British government is doing everything it can to bring about a ceasefire since Prime Minister Gordon Brown mentioned it in January this year, he said.

Nothing that the intention in appointing the special envoy was to focus on the final solution and the humanitarian crisis, he expressed the disappointment of the UK government that Sri Lanka had turned down the appointment. He mentioned that he would be reaching out to Diaspora groups in order to continue his role as Special Envoy.

Stating that the UK does not wish to impose a solution � �that is for the Sri Lankans to decide� � Mr. Browne said that like Northern Ireland, the only viable solution is a political one, not a military one.

The conference ended with a press conference on Thursday afternoon, attended by many London based Tamil and international media representatives.

The conference resolution is reproduced in full below:

World Tamils Forum: London Conference, 26 March 2009
Conference Resolution

We, the 45 delegates from 21 countries at the Conference of World Tamils, having met and deliberated in London on the 25th and 26th day of March 2009:

Are severely shocked and deeply concerned by the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the Vanni and lack of any substantive reaction by the international community;

Recognise that the Sri Lankan state is engaged in a genocide of the Tamil people of the island;

Sri Lanka Genocide of Eelam Tamils

Recognise that the Tamil people have the inalienable right to determine their own destiny;

Recognise that the Tamil people have mandated the establishment of a free, sovereign state of Tamil Eelam as the only enduring solution;

Recognise that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are the authentic representatives of the Tamil people;

And hereby we resolve that:

All killings and attacks of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan state must cease immediately;

Unimpeded humanitarian assistance to those in need in the Vanni must be allowed;

The United Nations, International Non-Governmental Organisations, and the ICRC must have unfettered humanitarian access to the Tamil population and be permitted to re-establish a permanent presence in the Vanni;

There must be an immediate ceasefire; and

Negotiations for a political solution to the conflict must begin immediately after the ceasefire, based on the principle of self determination of the Tamil people.

World Tamils Forum London Conference - Participants

Jesse Jackson calls for ceasefire

[TamilNet, Friday, 27 March 2009, 23:13 GMT]

World Tamils Forum London Conference - Jesse Jackson

Veteran American civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson, who addressed the diaspora Tamil conference in London on Thursday said that "we [the global community] have a moral obligation to stop the killings" in Sri Lanka. The American civil rights activist also raised the need to increase the international awareness of the crisis and asked what his organisation, the Rainbow Push Coalition could do to help. Rev. Jackson stated that the crisis can only be resolved by "thinking it out, and not by shooting it out." He called for a commitment to a ceasefire because �we cannot negotiate to the sound of bullets whizzing over our heads.�

�We know that there has to be a cessation of violence to get back to the table to resolve the conflict,� Rev Jackson said.

Rev Jesse Jackson�Whenever there is human misery, whenever there is fear, we have a moral obligation,� he said. Saying that he was aware of the crisis in Sri Lanka, Rev Jackson asked �what can we do to help�.

Referring to the political accommodation that has been achieved in Northern Ireland, Rev. Jackson spoke about the achievements of the civil rights movement, including marches calling for an end to segregation and to free (Nelson) Mandela.

"I am convinced we have never lost a battle we fought, and never won a battle unless we fought," Rev Jackson said.

�There are those who still think that violence is a solution,� he said. �I believe it is not.�

Rev. Jackson said he was convinced that non-violence was strength, not weakness, because it required the use of the mind, not just missiles.

�I think our choices remain non-violence and co-existence,� he said. Referring to the increasingly connected world, Rev. Jackson said �if people know our story they will gravitate to the rightness of our cause.�

The Tamil family must seek some way of reconciliation over elimination, he said, �some plan to co-exist and not co-annihilate.�

Asking what his organisation can do to help, Rev Jackson said one reason for being at the conference was to get the Tamil story told. �Your witnesses must be able to testify,� he said, �and not be drowned out by the sound of bullets and the quiver of fear.�

He called on Tamils to define the help that they seek, saying that US Secretary of State Clinton had spoken and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had called for a ceasefire.

�What can the world do to get you back to the table and away from the battle field?� he asked, stressing the urgency about the matter.

When we fight these battles, there are some rules of the game, he said. �We must affirm international law, human rights, self-determination and economic justice.� With that fight comes the faith to fight on until the morning cometh, he said. �We must not give up.�

In our own country, not long ago, it was almost state-sanctioned terrorism, Rev Jackson said. It is not long ago that we made apartheid in our own country illegal. �We walked behind the caskets of the martyrs, the murdered and the marginalised.�

The reason America is where it is today is �because we didn�t give up; because we turned to each other, not on each other; because we kept reaching out; because we kept building coalitions; because we kept the faith; because we kept out hope alive.� This long process, of each victory leading to another victory and each struggle leading to another struggle, led to Barak Obama becoming the 44th President.

In Sri Lanka also, we need affirmation of respect for international law, human rights, self-determination and economic justice, he said.

�Let us choose negotiation. Let us work it out and not fight it out,� he said. �If the cause is right, you will prevail.�

�It means co-existence not co-annihilation. It means talking with both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil people. It means convincing all involved that beyond the pain on war is a peace that�s possible.�

�We must believe that peace with justice is possible,� Rev. Jackson said.

�We are interested in trying to bring visibility and resolution to this crisis,� Rev Jackson said, and volunteered that his organisation, Rainbow Coalition, would help in any way to achieve this.

�Hope matters, because if you can see beyond the situation, you can get where you see,� Rev Jackson said. �You must conceive it, believe it, achieve it.�

�We have a moral obligation to work together to stop the killing, to end the fear, to provide the hope,� he said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson concluded his speech by stating that �We must live to see the end of the crisis in Sri Lanka as another victory in our quest to make the world a better place in which to live.�

Conference Press Release by British Tamil Forum

British Tamils Forum, assisted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T), hosted an international conference, titled "World Tamils Forum", on Thursday, 26 March 2009 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in London.

Tamil academics, professionals and Tamil Youth from 22 countries attended the conference, at which Rev Jesse Jackson from the USA was the key-note speaker. The 45 delegates gathered over two days to discuss and draw up a declaration addressing the humanitarian tragedy facing Tamils in Sri Lanka, exposing the Genocidal War, reinforcing the need for a political process and the role that international actors would need to play.

The Former Defence Secretary and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka Rt. Hon. Des Browne, Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) Member Mr Mike Griffiths, Entertainer and Charity Worker Sir Jimmy Savile, Members of Parliament from the UK and Sri Lanka, Dignitaries and Civil Servants also attended the conference.

All non-Tamil speakers at the conference commented that the Tamil Diaspora by grouping up in one place have demonstrated their formidable strength and the significance of the democratic approach to concluding their aspirations. They also commented that what is happening in Sri Lanka for the Tamils is unique and unacceptable. Unlike in the case of Darfur or even Gaza, the Sri Lankan Government expelled humanitarian agencies and international media long before the war  intensified paving the way for a Genocidal war without witnesses.

Prime Minster�s Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, Rt. Hon. Des Browne, in his address highlighted that the often quoted figure of 70,000 killed is a gross underestimation of the lives that have been lost as a result of war in Sri Lanka.

He further highlighted that the pressing need is the humanitarian crisis facing Tamil civilians remaining in the conflict zone. During his speech, Mr Browne acknowledged that the largest number of casualties continues to be in the government declared safety zone and strongly condemned these acts of violence.

He conveyed that the UK government was doing everything it could to bring about a ceasefire ever since Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for it in the Parliament. In reference to his appointment as UK�s special envoy to Sri Lanka, Des Browne explained that the intention of the appointment was to focus on alleviating the humanitarian crisis and facilitating a permanent solution.

He expressed grave disappointment at the Government of Sri Lanka�s decision to reject his appointment and reiterated that all parties to the conflict would need to be included in any peace settlement. He further said that unlike what the Government of Sri Lanka said after his appointment was announced, the British Government did consult the President of Sri Lanka and only announced after it was mutually agreed. �It is difficult for us to understand why they did this�

He stressed that the idea of his appointment is to bring to bear his previous experience in the conflict in Northern Ireland. He also stressed that it is not the British Government�s wish to enforce any solutions to the problem however he said that the parties to the conflict should resolve.

Mr Browne emphasised that the conflict cannot be solved by military means and drew parallels to the Northern Ireland experience. He said that he has been engaged with the US State Department, Norway and Japan. India he said needs to play a major role as the super power of the region. He further said that �today�s meeting is significant� and that he will be reaching out to the Diaspora and the media. At the end of his speech he said that �the nature of my job as a special envoy means that I must be neutral, so I will not answer all comments�.

In his keynote speech, Rev Jesse Jackson emphasised his strong commitment to establishing a ceasefire in Sri Lanka and the need for there to be dialogue between Tamils and the Sri Lankan Government to establish a permanent solution.

The world renowned Rights Activist highlighted the urgency in increasing international awareness of the crisis and expressed his support for upholding international law, human rights, economic development assistance and the right to self determination. Rev Jackson stressed that he does not believe that violence is the way forward in any situation.

He drew parallels between the freedom struggle of the African Americans in the United States of America and the Tamils of Sri Lanka. He asked everyone to see beyond the current circumstances and difficulties and have a vision of how things should be in the future; �Everyone must have hope and believe peace and justice is possible. Hope matters a lot.� Rev Jackson said that the international community has a moral obligation to act to stop the killing of innocent civilians.

He stressed the importance of co-existence against co-inhalation. Rev Jackson received the same standing ovation upon his exit, as he did when he entered into the conference room.

Other speakers included Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, who also answered many questions from the delegates. He suggested that the Westminster-style model was not suitable to the Sri Lankan circumstances where there is a long standing history of the majority suppressing the Tamil ethnic minority.

Mike Griffiths recognised Tamils� right to self determination and Sir Jimmy Savile expressed his support to the British Tamil community. APPG-T Parliamentarians Siobhain McDonagh MP, Keith Vaz MP and Simon Hughes MP, also addressed the conference supporting the Tamils right to self determination and supported the holding of a referendum. They all stressed the need for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and for immediate relief efforts to be made by the international community.

To conclude, the Tamil delegates passed a resolution by show of hands unanimously. A copy of the official resolution that was passed and selected photographs are attached with this press statement.

The press conference that followed was chaired by Ms Jan Jananayagam, Father S.J. Emmanuel and Mr A Pararajasingam. The conference drew to a close at 5pm


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