BTF reps visited India over Sri Lanka war crimes probe

[TamilNet, Sunday, 28 August 2011, 13:36 GMT]
Representatives of the British Tamil Forum (BTF) travelled recently to India to raise awareness of the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and to build support for an independent international investigation into the mass killings of Tamil civilians in the closing months of the island’s war, the organisation said in a statement this weekend. Taking up an invitation extended to the BTF by India’s main opposition Bhathiya Janatha Party (BJP) during a meeting in London, a delegation travelled to Delhi and several Indian states, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, to meet several key political leaders and senior political advisors, as well as representatives of human rights organisations, religious and media organisations, the statement said.

The invitation had been extended when senior BTF members met in London with a BJP delegation headed by party President Nitin Gadkari. The statement did not give the date of that meeting, or those of the visit to India.

Whilst in India, the BTF representatives met with Indian opposition leader Ms. Sushma Swaraj for an hour and with other senior leaders of BJP.

They also met with senior officials of the Communist Party of India (CPI), as well as representatives of the World Hindu Council (VHP) and the Maharashstra-based political party, Shiv Sena.

“[Those we met] promised to launch awareness campaigns among their respective constituencies, as well as in the parliament, to highlight the plight of Eelam Tamils,” the statement said.

“[We] succeeded in informing many political leaders, including members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha who were largely unaware of the suffering of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka.”

“They were shocked on seeing the inhuman and barbaric acts of the Sri Lankan state when shown the Channel 4 documentary [‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’] as well as other documentary evidence,” the statement said.

The BTF delegation had stressed “the need for an independent international war crimes investigation into the conduct of the war in Sri Lanka where more than 40,000 Tamil men, women and children were massacred by the Sinhala military and 146,679 people still remain unaccounted for.”

The BTF had sought the support of civil organisations in India in urging the Indian government to endorse at the UN human rights council meeting in Geneva, the call by the UN Panel of experts, as well as the international community including UK and US, for a proper war crimes investigation.

“[We] also explained the current situation in the north and east of Sri Lanka, where colonisation of the Tamil areas is taking place at a rapid pace, under a heavy Sinhala military presence … under the guise of development,” the statement said.

 

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