Published on 15 Nov 2013

Cameron ‘good to his word’ in tackling Rajapaksa on human rights

David Cameron met Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for a one-to-one meeting on Friday afternoon, following his return from Jaffna, in the Indian Ocean island’s former conflict zone.

Channel 4 News understands that the encounter was “pretty lively”, and the 45 seconds’ worth of television footage that has been released is revealing.

The prime minister is shown leaving the meeting, brushing past Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to London, who tried to engage him in conversation, before pacing past the camera with pursed lips. There is a strong sense from the pictures of the meeting having been brusque, curt and frosty.

A source who was present at the bilateral said the British prime minister had “repeatedly and robustly” raised war crimes allegations, human rights and freedom of the press.

He also spoke about the Channel 4 film No Fire Zone and the issues it had raised.

Mr Cameron said last week that he had watched the feature documentary and had found it “chilling”. In a tweet which he addressed to President Rajapaksa last Saturday, he said that he had “serious questions” to ask him.

The film, broadcast in the UK last week, examines the final 138 days of the civil war which ended in May 2009.

The United Nations says that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the final few weeks of the 27-year-long conflict, which pitted Sri Lankan government forces against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The Sri Lankan rebuttal was largely made by the president’s brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s unelected defence secretary. He is the power behind the throne and is accused by international human rights groups of war crimes, as it was he who was ultimately in command of the final assault in which so many civilians died.

The Sri Lankan president reportedly conceded that while progress had been made, more might be needed to be done to address the issues raised.

Before leaving for Sri Lanka, David Cameron had promised to send an uncompromising message to the Rajapaksa government. It appears that he was good to his word.

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27 reader comments

  1. Nagen Ramraj says:

    Thank you Prime minister. This is the start and not the end. Please ensure that the Commonwealth is not chaired by a war criminal. Tamils have no one to turn for justice. You the 1st leader to visit Jafna and please dont let them down.

    1. mohan_108 says:

      Sooner or later this problem will need a military solution, like the one NATO did for Bosnia and Kosovo. All the acronyms wil come into play: SAS, B52, IPKF to teach the SLA, SLAF and SLN a lesson that the world will never forget.

  2. Ben Hurling says:

    I welcome PM Cameron to my country, Sri Lanka. Including to Jaffna.

    His visit to Jaffna is made possible due to great sacrifices by ordinary soldiers of Sri Lanka Army. Nearly 25 000 have persihed. A lot more on wheel chairs.

    Visit to Uthayan is welcome, but hypocritical.

    Cameron is yet to visit Julian Assange locked up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. For publishing US Army war crimes. Further, UK refused to grant assylum to Edward Snowden.

    Cameron is scratching Obama’s back, while wagging his finger at Rajapassa.

    Cameron has no moral authority to lecture Sri Lanka.

  3. Kumar says:

    Excellent coverage by John Snow and Jonnathan Miller and C4 team. You have exposed Gotabya Rajapakse’s police state. Mr Cameron acted as he promised; this has given some hope to Tamil residents. I wanted him (David Cameron)to boycott the CHOGM but I think he has now given hope to Tamils who are dependant on international community. The sufferings and loss of lives could have been stopped in 2009 but India felt necessary to toe Rajapakse’s line. South Indians are up in arms about this.
    I hope the Prime Minister will pursue the endeavour right to accountability, reconciliation and acceptable political solution-Tamils self determination via UN route.
    I am a Lim Dem voter; I do not know why Nick Clegg has been very silent on this matter. This will do no good to his candidates in the next general election.

  4. Kekul says:

    C4, is spreading rumors using the freedom they enjoying in SL, and creating false stories to the maximum level which shame for journalism. In the video clip, C4 published there were some of the protesters in Jafna, who carry pictures of missing ones (watch the clip carefully) long time before the latter part of the war and it was stated some date in 1990. Also C4 didn’t show the clips of the protesters, who were named as well organised, which again highlights the motive of C4 and so called fairness of this crew. Remember these protesters in Jafna was not blocked by Police, but were trying to keep them in order as C4 mentioned, which shows the freedom they enjoy today, that didn’t mentioned by C4. According to the news report, again C4 trying to highlight that discussion had between UK PM and SL President was as bitter, even without gone into what they discussed. So the behavior of C4 its highly unprofessional and childish.

  5. Suganthan says:

    Thank you Hon David Cameron for your bold move to visit Tamil homeland. Hope you have now realized the ground realities and the truth that this genocidal srilankan government will never ever co operate or conduct an inquiry of alleged war crimes and will never ever provide a reasonable solution to its ethnic Tamil minority. Hope you’ll move to the next step as you said earlier (an International Independent Inquiry) in this regard. And Channel 4, thank you very very much in your dedication and boldness in exposing the true cruel face of sri lankan regime to the world. Thank you again

  6. Jayasingha says:

    Good acting by Cameron on latest film produced by Channel 4, directed by Miller and Macrae for viewing by Tamil tiger terrorists and Tamil voters in the UK. Promissed and delivered.

  7. Jason Colins says:

    I have been following this for over an year now, and I hope the Tamil’s get what they truly deserve. I have never witnessed such cruelty in this world.

    David Cameron, Please fulfill your promise and do what’s right!!

  8. Pala Vallipuram says:

    Guys you are the VOICE of people without voiceless .
    Please I am begging you to raise the same voice you have been raising it for months / years.
    trust me the TRUTH will come out and you will be the heroes
    Pala

  9. Punchi says:

    We are sick of listening to one sided story of channel 4, are you getting any reward from India or any other organisation for your one sided comments.

    Somebody who lived with fear for LTTE actions knows how it was to live in a war zone country. What action have you taken to support the suffering humanity than aggravating issues.

    Why don’t you investigate your money to improve British knife crimes. You don’t spend time on your country issues but on poor countries bz you don’t like peace. Leave Sri Lanka alone.

  10. W.K.S.Jayatissa says:

    who created this scenario? When Sri Lanka was handewd over (NOT CAPTURED) to the British in 1815 it was one land where people can live peacefully in any part of the country. When the country was given independence there were certain barriers like Nothern part of the country land can not be sell, purchased by Sinhalese. There were few business people other than few goverment servants (Sinhalese) stayed in North. Tamils were allowed to live, work, purchase land and properties in any part of the country. THIS IS THE FIRST STEP of the conflict CREATED by BRITISH RULARS. they wanted the citizens to be divided and rule and that is why they implemented the above rule. This way the sovereign country handed over in 1815 was return back with so called FREEDOM tag “CANCER VIRUS(north land policy) to DIVIDED the country.
    When conflict started 75000 Muslims and few (who were there) Sinhalese families were chased away from NORTH by TERRORIST. Was the Tamils were in safe hand at that time?
    If they were in safe hand WHY the hell they came to Colombo to stay? Remember during the conflict started TAMILS preferred to stay in Colombo and that is why
    TAMILS population RAPIDLY got increased in Colombo CITY itself. There were no harassment made by Sinhalese. In fact TAMILS who were in COLOMBO before the conflict started will give the evidence of how they were taken care by Sinhalese when mobs tried to harass/torture them in order to rob their properties. This has happened when trouble took place in the wake of TERRORIST killed dozens of military personels in Jafna city. After this event YET Tamils from NORTHERN and Eastern part came to Colombo to stay. All who are now in Canada, Europe and other part of the world (members of the so called Tamil diaspora) gone to those countries after visiting respective countries for several months. All those Ambassorders and High commissioners knew that there were no problem for Tamils to stay in Colombo and problem was in North and East part. Why those Embassies and High commission’s Offices were not taken step to keep those asylum seekers in safe custody in Colombo (of course they were in safe) by using their diplomacy?
    This is the second step those countries including British made to enhance the division of the country and not only that this WRONG STEP was like manuring the paddy field of TERRORISM as all of those asylum seekers contributed on daily basis to TERRORIST FUND.
    Now those who contribute to the terrorist fund became a member of the so called Tamil diaspora.
    If Western government happy and knows now TAMILS can live in SRI LANKA peacefully why they are not taking any step to RETURN those asylum seekers back to their motherland?
    After the war yet those western government creating unwarranted problems to Sri Lanka in order to WIN the VOTE of the Tamils (those asylum seekers-now the member of diaspora). Those government wanted Sri Lanka to be their BITE to win another election. I humbly request the TRUE CITIZENS of those countries (CANADA, BRITAIN, NORWAY, and other countries) to be vigilant of these UNFAIR government while casting your valuable votes.

    1. Anura says:

      Correct……….your idea Mr. Jayatissa…………..Tks…..for this comment. Where is our foreign embassy leaders in Sri Lanka? Actually they wan’t be to the answer this questions.

    2. Peri Nathen says:

      Sir
      You left a gaping hole in events that led to the British takeover the Kandyan kingdom was captured by the British not handed over in 1818. The ruler was a Tamil you can visit his decendents in Tamil Nadu.
      The Tamils asked the British to give back the North and East when the British left The British did not want to witnes another blood shed like India but They left a caveat in the constittion “any laws passed iif it affected the minoroity they had the right to appeal to the privey council in England ”
      The famous case Mr Kodiswaran a government servant challenged the Sinhala only act and took it to the privey council and won the case and it was declared the Sinhala only act was unconstitutional That is the reason Ceylon became Sri lanka and a republic not answerable to the Privey council
      Regarding Sinhalese who cannot buy land in the north there is no law that prevents them from doing that but it is another thing when the state decides to bring criminals and settle them down in Vanni and the Eastern province to change the demography this is called ethnic cleansing
      Tamils came in large numbers to Colombo to escape from the war so what is is your point ? did they receive any grants from the government NO
      The Tamils were saved by many Sinhalese and Muslims during 1956 1958 1977 and 1983 for that i thank them but i curse the sinhala politicians and extremist for

      1) Defranchising one million Tamils
      2) Passing the Sinhala only Bill

      3) let toose Sinhala Thugs on our men women and children in 56 58 77and 83
      4) Standerdization

      This country could have been another Singapore long time ago but people like you will not allow it to happen because you are scared meantime

      The Tamils will not forget The SInhala politicians nor will they pardon them either

      Nathen

  11. Jane chapman says:

    These actions by Cameron are in distinct contrast to the PM of Australia who merely said ‘ while our govt deplores torture, in difficult circumstances difficult things happen’. This reflects the tone of his previous comment referring to the death of an Aussie soldier in Afghanistan, ‘ s*** happens’

  12. Bala Pillai says:

    Way to go Mr. Cameron. Thank you for caring.

  13. SELVAM LETCHUMANAN says:

    1. MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE MUST BE CHARGED FOR WAR CRIMES, HE HAS KILLED 150,000 INNOCENT TAMIL CIVILIANS INCLUDING CHILDRENS AND INFANTS, THOUSANDS OF TAMILS RAPED, TAMILS UPROOTED, MORE TAHN 50,000 ACRES OF TAMIL LAND GRABBED BY RAJAPAKSE MILITAY, TAMILS TOURTUED AND KILLED WHITE VAN DISAPPEARANCE DAILY, UNTIL TODAY AND EVERYDAY. THERE WILL BE NO JUSTICE IN THE NAME OF SRI LANKA. THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR THE TAMILS IS A SEPARATE STATE TAMIL EELAM – A U.N REFERENDUM IS A MUST FOR THE TAMILS.

  14. TamilNet says:

    a BIG THANK YOU to all at Channel 4 from all Tamils.

    Thank you Jonathan & Channel 4 for your good work on exposing some of the murder and rape of innocent civilians in SL.

  15. Nuremberg says:

    The only way to deal with allegations of war crimes, human rights abuses is to bring a resolution at the UN Security Council for an independent international inquiry. The present Rajapakse regime has had at least four years and six months to come up with a robust defence of the allegations against it and has so far stalled and impeded any attempts to carry out an independent inquiry including the one initiated by the UNSG . The LLRC is just not a credible and independent organization because the appointments to the commission are approved by the president and his cohorts who have to protect their own interests.It is an internal process riddled with weaknesses.So we have a situation where the turkeys are being asked to vote for Christmas.
    On past form, China, Russia and India will oppose and dilute any resolution at the UN Security Council for an independent international investigation.The reasons are several-providing military and logistical support to Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war, retribution for the assassination of a former Indian PM and ideological ones.The present UN Secretary General was unable to progress previous recommendations of the UN panel (Dharusman et.al), he himself appointed to investigate the allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses.
    These obstacles require leadership of the highest order by other members of the UN Security Council.The recent events at CHOGM 2013 have demonstrated that ‘engagement and integration’ as a foreign policy for authoritarian and brutal regimes does not work. A much more tough and robust approach is necessary at the UN reinforced by sanctions, that worked in the case of South Africa..

  16. Y.S. says:

    I was talking to a Sri Lankan Muslim who used to live in the north of the country 15 years back. He told me the Tamils came to his village, gave them 30 minutes to leave their homes and was allowed just 50 pence in the local currency to take with them.
    I am afraid there are no good sides in Sri Lanka.
    I also asked if they returned to his old village after the war, the answer was no, they had moved on, set up home and business in the south of the island. Had nothing to go back to.

  17. Nick Hart says:

    If you’re trying to destabilize the Sri Lankan government, you should say so. And while you’re at it, name the country you believe Sri Lanka should use as a role model.

  18. David Rosemont says:

    Nice hairdo. Rajapak 40000 not out- yet!

  19. Sohan pieris says:

    Cameron should release the Blair papers that’s shielding The Bush poodle from all the wrong doings
    Leading up to the Iraq war. Why is it that The neocon group of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair are
    Not questioned and brought to to justice by The Hague ? This should be done FIRST before Cameron
    Can go around shoving his weight on a sovereign nation.

  20. quietoaktree says:

    “Before leaving for Sri Lanka, David Cameron had promised to send an uncompromising message to the Rajapaksa government. It appears that he was good to his word.”

    Hague

    “The UK must shed any lingering feelings of “post-colonial guilt” and be confident about its status on the world stage”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19434147

    ————-

    ´The UK government has declassified documents which were never published before that show that the UK had a covert role in helping to suppress the JVP uprising in 1971.´

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/uk-govt-had-a-role-in-crimes-against-humanity-in-71-jvp-crushing-declassified-documents-reveal-2/

    –Or did Hague mean post post Colonial guilt ?

    Glass houses ? — it´s a porcupine in a soap bubble !

  21. Ajith says:

    A big thank you for the entire Channel 4 crew in Sri Lanka to cover the CHOGM. Salute you for your courage and determination to shed light on the war crimes, the past and present true human rights situation in Sri Lanka. This will not only help Sri Lankans but also a great service to the humanity around the world. Best wishes.

  22. Velupillai says:

    1818 Sri Lanka (Ceylon) killing fileds, British PM Cameron should start his international war crimes inquiry on Sri Lanka from here. The 1818 Uva-Wellassa Uprising also known as the Great Rebellion resulted in multiple atrocities against the local Sri Lankans by the British imperialists, including razing and annihilation of villages. The entire Uva region male population above the age of 18 years were killed in revenge for resistance against the British imperialist occupation. History records also say the government led by British not only confiscated the properties of the people involved in the uprising, but soaked the Sri Lankan soil with an unprecedented blood bath by massacring all male population above 18 years of age numbering over 10,000, destroyed all cattle and other animals, and burnt all paddy fields in the area of uprising which was known as Wellassa, denoting “One hundred thousand paddy fields”. History cannot be reversed, but at least an apology by the British is long overdue. Australian Prime Minister was gracious enough to apologise to the Aborigine communities for the atrocities done in the past, but it is doubtful British PM Cameron with his stiff upper lip will ever be humble enough to do so.

  23. nathan says:

    Thanks for your support. Worldwide tamil civilians are happy and all are behind david cameron. His actions was unbelievable and present situation, we need this. But, this action should be continue until our people living peacefully.

  24. Sue says:

    Thanks for visiting Jaffna.Please pressure UN for an international inquiry and for the release of all civilians held in camps….

    But please don’t listen to the LTTE supporters either…. Listen to the moderate tamils who are not hardcore LTTE supporters but who agree that tamils have been marginalised since “standardisation” and the Sinhalese have always tried to oppress the tamils and degrade them buy saying tamils just came from india.
    Jaffna tamils have lived in northern srilanka for centuries just like the Sinhalese who are descendants of the Bengal king Vijaya. lived in Anuradhapura and rest of the country….. Sinhalese became majority since they procreated more, that’s all….

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