Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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united kingdom
& the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

Letter from British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
12 August 1997

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH
Telephone 0171 270 3035

12 August 1997

Dear Dr Ilanko,

Thank you for your letter of 10 June (which was received on 2 August) to the Prime Minister enclosing an appeal on behalf of civilians in Sri Lanka. I have been asked to reply.

We are following the situation in Sri Lanka closely. Both we and our High Commission in Colombo regularly consult relevant interested parties, including NGOs, and also have meetings with Tamil groups in the UK. We are very much aware of alleged human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan armed forces, including disappearances. When we have well-founded reports, we raise individual cases with the Sri Lankan authorities.

We also maintain a general dialogue with them on human rights, stressing the importance of bringing those responsible for abuses to justice. In the case of Murugesupillai Koneswary, I understand that the President has ordered an inquiry into the killing. This is now underway. We believe that the present Sri Lankan government has improved Sri Lanka's human rights record. We shall continue to press them to maintain their efforts to make further improvements.

We are not aware of government-imposed embargos on medicine, food and building materials destined for Tamil areas and have been assured by Non Government Organisations (NGOs) that, after initial supply problems following the latest offensive, there are sufficient food supplies. However, the LTTE have recently refused to allow the ICRC to escort vessels carrying food for civilians in Jaffna from Trincomalee.

We have strict controls on the sale of British arms to Sri Lanka. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis and takes into account, inter-alia, human rights issues.

We believe that a lasting solution to this tragic conflict in Sri Lanka can only be achieved through a political settlement, which takes the views of all parties concerned into account. We support the Sri Lankan government's efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

Since her election in August 1994, President Kumaratunga has made a solution to the ethnic conflict her major priority. Initially she offered peace talks to the LTTE which led to a short cessation of hostilities. Since this was broken, without warning, by the LTTE in April 1995, the government have continued their efforts to secure a solution to the conflict. They launched a wide-ranging package of devolution proposals in August 1995. We believe this offers an opportunity for the Tamil people to negotiate a long term solution.

The UK was involved in helping the government and the opposition to come to an agreement on a bipartisan approach to a settlement of the ethnic conflict, which they concluded on 3 April. We stand ready to provide further help if asked, but in the first instance a solution has to be found by those immediately concerned. We hope that both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will work actively to reach a peaceful settlement.

Yours sincerely,
R S Rimmer
South Asian Department



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