A team of British parliamentarians, who were on a fact finding mission, said in Colombo yesterday, that they were looking to the future, but would certainly address concerns expressed by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with regard to missing persons during the final stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(TNA), a Colombo media reports.
The TNA’s call to trace the whereabouts of thousands of civilians, who went missing or were killed during the last phase of the conflict, needs to be looked into, Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman said during an interaction with the local and foreign media at the end of their six-day visit, which had taken them to all parts of Sri Lanka.
Asked what sort of mechanism would be initiated to deal with the TNA’s complaint, the MP said that he will request the British government to open up a channel through which the issues raised could be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.
“Maybe, some of the missing died during the conflict while others could be traced. Either way this issue needs to be addressed to the satisfaction of all concerned. Once this is done, the country as whole should move forward,” he said.
The nine-member parliamentarian delegation, headed by James Wharton, comprised eight ruling Conservative Party MPs and one Opposition MP, Ian Paisley from the Democratic Unionist Party. Their visit was arranged and funded by the Sri Lankan High Commision in the UK.
Questioned, whether political issues, including devolution were discussed, Wharton replied “Yes, But we are not here to tell your government how internal issues should be resolved. We are certainly willing to help if asked. The opportunities for peace and reconciliation are rising.”
Opposition parties, the MP admitted, had raised issues concerning human rights abuses by the government and they had taken stock of the situation.
Wharton, said that there was immense potential for economic cooperation and they would go back and list out all available opportunities.
Ian Paisely (DUP) expressed the hope that their comprehensive visit would mark the beginning of a new chapter in Anglo-Sri Lanka relations. “Your doing incredibly well in terms of reconciliation. I would describe our visit as a diplomatic success par excellence.”
Mathew Offord (Conservative) said that they had visited Killinochchi and saw for themselves the mine clearing process by experts from the UK.