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US and UK urge political settlement in SL, Canada wants SL ceasefire

April 10, 2009

AFP: US urges political settlement in Sri Lanka
The United States on Wednesday urged Sri Lanka’s government to reach a political settlement with the Tamil minority and urged Tamil rebels to free civilians trapped in the bloody conflict.

UK Special Envoy to SL writes:
…There are credible reports that civilians are being killed and wounded daily because of the fighting…Unfortunately, the Government of Sri Lanka still refuses to accept an envoy, even though President Rajapakse said before the appointment that his government would work with one. Their response is obviously disappointing. It is also difficult to understand…

Click here for more.

National Post: Canada wants Sri Lanka ceasefire, Tamil protests continue
Rejecting a call by the Sri Lankan envoy to Canada to end days of disruptive protests in Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Thursday that Canada is pushing the United Nations for a ceasefire in the troubled South Asian country…Mr. Cannon rejected a call by the Sri Lankan high commissioner to Canada to crack down on the protesters because they were waving banners that depict a tiger in front of a pair of crossed guns. “It’s not up to me to put an end to protest,” said Mr. Cannon. “People are allowed to protest in Canada. We live in a democracy. People are allowed to go and express their ideas, their concerns.” Mr. Cannon’s remarks fly in the face of the assessment of Sri Lankan envoy Daya Perera, who said Wednesday that: “there is a limit; the freedom of expression has to stop somewhere.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. fastuntoactionaust permalink
    April 10, 2009 12:49 pm

    From: BROWNE, Des
    Sent: 02 April 2009 17:53
    Subject: Sri Lanka

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am writing to you in my capacity as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Sri Lanka to update you on where matters stand both with my appointment and on my activities as Special Envoy.

    David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, together with Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development, tabled a Written Ministerial Statement today on Sri Lanka. This statement makes clear the Government’s very deep concern about the humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting in the north of Sri Lanka between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The fate of the civilians who remain caught in the conflict area is clearly the most pressing concern. There are credible reports that civilians are being killed and wounded daily because of the fighting. As the Written Ministerial Statement makes clear, the Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of civilians and urges both sides to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.

    The Prime Minister first called for a ceasefire on 14 January. Since then the Government, through its direct contacts with the Sri Lankan government, in concert with other international partners and in multilateral fora, consistently has urged both parties to the conflict to agree to a ceasefire. Most recently, David Miliband repeated that call in the House at FCO Orals on Tuesday 31 March.

    Ultimately, it will be for Sri Lankans to resolve this conflict that has dragged on for over 25 years and claimed more than 70,000 lives. But, in recognition of the close historic and cultural ties between our two countries, the Government is committed to contributing where it can to an improvement in the humanitarian situation and to the search for a sustainable political solution to the conflict. The Prime Minister’s appointment of me on 12 February as his Special Envoy was a measure of that commitment. I accepted the appointment because of the pressing need for an improvement in the situation in Sri Lanka. I hoped that my experience of working in Northern Ireland and as Secretary of State for Defence would enable me to make a positive contribution. In addition the appointment of a Special Envoy was designed to make the most of opportunities to work with international partners. The Prime Minister also wanted someone to have regular contact with the Sri Lankan Diaspora.

    Unfortunately, the Government of Sri Lanka still refuses to accept an envoy, even though President Rajapakse said before the appointment that his government would work with one. Their response is obviously disappointing. It is also difficult to understand. Looking ahead Sri Lanka is going to need to engage closely with the international community. Isolating itself will not help and is not a viable option. Rather than accept the rejection the Government has been making considerable efforts to encourage the Sri Lankan government to see the benefits of a Special Envoy. These, and my agreement to remain in my position, are a reflection of the importance we place on trying to work constructively with Sri Lanka.

    For much of the period since my appointment I have refrained from taking a visible public role, preferring to give the Sri Lankan government space in which to agree to work with an envoy. I trust that those of you who asked me to take part in public engagements in my capacity as envoy will understand why I did not at that time feel able to accept. But I have not been inactive. Generally, I have been using the period to better acquaint myself with the complexities of the conflict and the challenges that inevitably will be involved in the search for a lasting peace. This has included meetings with individuals who have first-hand experience of Sri Lanka. In particular, during a recent trip to the USA, I took advantage of the opportunity to engage with representatives of President Obama’s administration. I have also met privately a number of organisations from across the full spectrum of interests in Sri Lanka, and have spoken with Mr Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Norway’s Special Envoy for Sri Lanka, and Mr Yasushi Akashi, the Japanese Special Envoy for Sri Lanka.

    We will continue to press the Sri Lankan government to agree to work with an envoy. But, as the Foreign Secretary says in his Written Ministerial Statement, I will now adopt a more visible role. I plan to contribute to an international consensus on how to deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis and to encourage a political process post-conflict. In terms of the post-conflict situation I will be seeking to build up a dialogue with international partners, such as the Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, the US and the EU), regional players, notably India, and international organisations, particularly the UN. I will be meeting with NGOs and representatives of Sri Lankan Diaspora groups here in the UK. I also intend to make myself available to as many of you – and your constituents – as will wish to discuss Sri Lanka with me. I will of course be ready to meet with representatives of the Sri Lankan government and to visit Sri Lanka as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy at any time. Some of your constituents may be unaware of the degree to which the UN Security Council has been briefed on the situation in Sri Lanka. Last Friday, as a consequence of our, and other countries’ support, John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, gave a second informal briefing to the Security Council on Sri Lanka following his visit to the country in February. John Holmes briefed the council members on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka. He called on both parties to respect international humanitarian law and to do everything possible to protect civilians.
    The British Government has always been very clear that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka and that sustainable peace can only come about through an inclusive political process that fully takes into account the legitimate concerns of all communities in Sri Lanka – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. It very much remains my hope that I will be able to contribute to such a process as well as to an improvement in the humanitarian situation.

    I will periodically send further letters to keep you and your constituents updated on my activities.

    Des Browne MP
    Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Sri Lanka

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