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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 857

Tamil Tigers are terrorists and unless you defeat them you can’t build the united Sri Lanka, says British MP-Malcolm Bruce

By Janaka Alahapperuma from London

London, 11 May, (Asiantribune.com): Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce MP for Gordon and Liberal Democrat Chairman of the Commons International Affairs Select CommitteeMalcolm Bruce MP for Gordon and Liberal Democrat Chairman of the Commons International Affairs Select CommitteeChairman of the Commons International Affairs Select Committee and MP for Gordon, Malcolm Bruce accused Tamil Tigers as terrorists and said "unless you end terrorism you can’t actually build the united Sri Lanka". He made this eye opening statement on BBC Radio-4 interview after coming back to UK from a two day visit in Sri Lanka.

At the invitation of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a cross-party group of UK parliamentarians visited Sri Lanka for 'an independent fact finding mission' on 4th and 5th of May. It was focused on the ongoing humanitarian crisis largely exaggerated by pro- Tamil Tiger propaganda network, few British politicians and some NGOs and INGOs.

The group was headed by the special envoy of the British Prime Minister, Des Browne, Labour MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun. The delegation included John Bercow (Conservative MP for Buckingham); Malcolm Bruce (Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon); Eddie McGrady (Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for South Down) and Mohammad Sarwar (Labour MP for Glasgow Central).

British delegation held meetings with politicians, civil society figures and personally visited IDP camps in the North of Sri Lanka. In a different statement MP Macolm Bruce said "Horror stories in Britain about conditions in Sri Lanka camps housing hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees are wrong. There may be shortages, but refugees I spoke to were happy to have escaped the fighting in the North".

He highly appreciated the way Sri Lankan government handle the situation with fewer resources and further said “They have done an extremely good job. Although it has to be said they are trying extremely hard, which quite impressive what they are doing”.
The full interview of the BBC Radio-4 as follows.
BBC Radio 4: A Group of MPs just returns from fact finding mission to Sri Lanka. We are joining one of them, Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat Chairs of International Affairs Select Committee. Good morning!

Malcolm Bruce, MP: Good morning!

BBC: What did you find?

Malcolm Bruce, MP: Well, we had the opportunity to visit camps in the North where people have recently managed to find shelter having escaped from the conflict zone. I think the Sri Lankan authorities are under extremely pressure 135,000 people escaped from the area held by the terrorists and of cause they have to provide camps for very short notice. In that sense they have done an extremely good job. They are under intense pressure..., and our concern was that they were not allowing international agencies and UN in fast enough to support the Government what they are doing and to meet the needs of the people both in terms of food, shelter and the water and sanitation. Although it has to be said they are trying extremely hard, which quite impressive what they are doing.

BBC: But there still lots of people caught in the fighting. Aren’t they?

Malcolm Bruce, MP: Well, there are unknown number of people figure between ten and hundred thousand (10,000 - 100,000) trapped inside the conflict zone and of course there is a concern if the Government were to finish off the terrorists and they would have to same time finishing off their own civilians. I think at the moment it appears there is an attempt to try and find a solution that will end the war without causing great colossal damage to local civilians. We did find quiet lot of people we spoke to, freely told us that they were unable to leave the conflict zone before they were given the assistance by the Sri Lankan Army because there were threatened with shooting by their own side. Many of them were with children not repaired to take that risk.

BBC: It actually you can say you think that there is a search on some kind of resolution which would avoid further difficulties for the civilians caught in the conflict zone because until now the Sri Lankan seems pretty determined to finish off the job they begun in military terms.

Malcolm Bruce, MP: You can’t really blame them. I mean the country….(interruption……)

BBC: I wasn’t. I asked a usual question. I just want to raise what you say

Malcolm Bruce, MP: I think the point is obviously it is determination trying to end the 30 years of conflict into deal with terrorists for ever. But I think partly because of the pressure from international community and also recognition these are Sri Lankan citizens, they want to find a way of doing it, does not kill more and indeed many have already died. And in that cause huge frustration for the military because they want to take out the terrorists but they can’t do it without these hostages getting in between. At the moment it is a deadlock.

BBC: You are just using the word, terrorists. It is a very loaded one. We are talking about the Tamil Tiger rebels here, Aren’t you?

Malcolm Bruce, MP: Well, I have to say these Tamil Tigers have assassinated many many Tamils including in and out of governments and the opposition parties and we had very credible evidence many of the people we met in camps to say they were threatened and shot at by their own side and told them if they try to leave the conflict zone their lives be at risk and in those circumstances, I think there is a clear indication that this is a divided community and the unless you end terrorism you can’t actually build the united Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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