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ACT NOW demands SL boycott

October 21, 2009
ACT NOW, 19 October 2009
PRESS RELEASE: As an EU Investigation that finds Sri Lanka in breach of human rights Conventions is likely to lead to the withdrawal of GSP + from that country, human rights group Act Now demands British firms take their lead and plans boycott campaign
An EU Investigation has concluded that Sri Lanka is in breach of International human rights Conventions. Published today, the report is likely to result in Sri Lanka losing the economic benefits of Eu’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) by the end of the year.
An EU source “The evidence is very clear that Sri Lanka does not fulfil the basic human rights conditions of GSP Plus.” Human rights group Act Now applauded the reports findings and urges the European Commission to withdraw the GSP+ from Sri Lanka.
Act Now has been campaigning against the renewal of the GSP+ (first given in 2006 following the region’s Tsunami disaster), which allows around 7,200 items from Sri Lanka to be imported into the EU duty-free (around 6%), over the last few months. Last week they made representations to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – a retail Trade Association who had reportedly supported the renewal and the UK Office of the European Commission (EC)3. These documents were delivered to Marguerite-Marie Brenchley, head of Public Diplomacy who forwarded them to Andrea Nicholaj the EU comission representative responsible for Sri Lanka to be read by the board in the process of reaching it’s decision with regard to the GSP+ .
Act Now Director Graham Williamson and Tamil rights campaigner Thangathurai Karikalan (son of Mr. Nadarajah Thangathurai who was murdered in Welikada Prison in the infamous ‘Black July’ of  riots in Sri Lanka in1983) presented an explanatory letter and various press reports of human rights violations explaining why the GSP+ should be revoked based upon Sri Lanka’s failure to comply with three of the Comissions human right’s conventions (out of 27 international rights agreements), namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  
Graham Williamson said “We are absolutely delighted with the Commission’s recommendation. For far too long we have seen crocodile tears eminating from the poltical elites of the International Community (IC) but with no action taken. Finally one body has decided to stand up for the human rights of these Tamil civilians and take action and for that we applaud. Act Now however will continue to campaign to ensure that our politicians do not waiver, under pressure from Sri Lanka, and ensure that the GSP+ is physically withdrawn by the end of the year.”
The benefit of the GSP+ to Sri Lanka is thought to be in the tune of $100 million. Since, without the duty-free concession, upwards of £8 billion worth of exports to the EU may be under threat, there are reports that Sri Lanka will subsidise industry to make up for the duty they will have to pay on exports.
In response, Thangathurai Karikalan said “Although Sri Lanka may attempt to minimise this loss to their economy every penny they have to spend on subsidies is less spent on weapons. They recently increased their military budget by 20% so any further expenditure will be an added strain on an already fragile economy. We urge Sri Lanka to take heed and rejoin civilised society by respecting human rights. They can indicate their wish to do so by first releasing the Tamil civilians detained in camps throughout northern Sri Lanka.”
Graham Williamson concluded by saying “The world now knows that Sri Lanka is violating conventional norms and as such is not worthy of benefiting from our taxpayer’s generosity. There is also now no excuse for private industry to continue trading with Sri Lanka until the latter respects human rights. We will therefore be asking British companies to cease importing Sri Lankan goods and the British public to boycott those companies who ignore this call by continuing to trade in blood!  We will shortly be announcing our boycott campaign targeting specific retailers who continue to support the Sri Lankan opressive regime.”
For further information and details of  how Act Now is campaigning to help see
Notes for editors
 1. Act Now is raising awareness about the suffering of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and is seeking urgent action from the International Community to monitor and improve conditions in the camps and ultimately to close them down. Director Tim Martin made international headlines earlier this year when he undertook a hunger strike which ended after 21 days only when offered support by celebrities such as Sian Evans of Kosheen and politicians like Tony Benn.
2. Available for interview:
Graham Williamson 07970 455445
Thangathurai Karikalan 07772 639036
For further information, please contact:
Tim Martin, Director, Act Now
Tel: +44(0)7817 504 227
Graham Williamson, Director, Act Now
Tel: +44(0)7970 455 445  Tel: 01708 453 794
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