British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for justice for the victims of the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka alongside renewed calls for changes to British foreign policy to fight against human rights abuses across the globe.
Speaking this past weekend at the Tamils of Lanka exhibition in London, the Labour Party leader called for new action against the Sri Lankan government as they continue to reject key aspects of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on accountability.
Stating that there has been clear “systematic abuse of the Tamil people”, Corbyn called for “something to be done in another direction” should Sri Lanka continue to defy United Nations rulings.
Speaking with the Tamil Guardian, Corbyn stated that he wished to “strengthen and empower” the UN Human Rights Council, calling on the Sri Lankan government to stand-by previous commitments made following previous resolutions.
“I’d say go back to the Human Rights Council, say to the Sri Lankan government – a resolution was carried in 2015, four years ago, very clear in its delineation of what it wants done, very clear in its criticism. There has to be a response from the government of Sri Lanka. If the response is simply to reject, then clearly something has to be done in another direction.”Jeremy Corbyn
It was as long ago as 2009 that Human Rights Watch first led an international call for a charge of genocide against Sri Lanka, with the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka finding in 2010 that the Sri Lankan Government and its military were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The findings also blamed the United States and Britain for a breakdown of the peace process, finding that members of the United Nations had not “complied with their moral obligation to seek justice for the violations of human rights committed during the last period of the war”.
In 2015, the Northern Provincial Council of Sri Lanka passed a resolution that called on the United Nations to investigate the Tamil genocide and take appropriate steps to bring charges at the International Court of Justice. Attempts to bring justice for the victims of the genocide have been hampered by Shri Lanka, with President Maithripala Sirisena stating that “I will not allow anyone in the world to touch [alleged war criminal] Jagath Jayasuriya or any other military chief or any war hero in this country.”
Corbyn once again committed himself to international peace and an ethical foreign policy at the event, stating that justice for Sri Lanka and other human rights abuses would be at “the core of our foreign policy”, going on the make possible reference to British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel that are facilitating the humanitarian crisis’ in Yemen and Palestine.
“We will take up human rights issues with any government and form and frame our trade policy, our arms sales policy and our military training policy around that. We have to be assured that any country we’re dealing with has full respect for human rights… We have to work for long term peace, we have to work for recognition, we have to work for the right to people anywhere in the world to self determination.”Jeremy Corbyn