Rajeewa Jayaweera, in Island, 9 April 2019, where the title runs “British political hypocrisy”
The news item “Geneva process: the UK seeks faster progress” in The Island on Saturday, April 6th epitomizes British Parliamentary hypocrisy in the House of Commons. On April 02, responding to questions raised by two Members of Parliament (MP), Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated, “there would never be lasting peace in Sri Lanka unless there was Justice and Accountability for the things that went wrong.”
The Foreign Secretary, Britain’s chief diplomat’s slip is showing. Only an absolute hypocrite can presumptuously speak of Justice and Accountability. The British committed horrendous injustices during two centuries of colonial rule in Asia and Africa. Let alone justice, it has not even apologized for its atrocities. Similarly, how can a British minister speak of Accountability when Britain’s own Prime Minister Theresa May, has refused to allow international scrutiny of the conduct of UK troops in Iraq? Britain has done nothing to hold to account the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who with the USA invaded Iraq on the cooked-up charge of weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found even after 15 years.
Hunt was responding to questions raised by MPs Gareth Thomas and Theresa Villers. Thomas, Labor MP for Harrow West raised the issue; “The rules-based international order would be strengthened if countries were seen to be held accountable for adhering to the conclusions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. What steps are Ministers taking to hold Sri Lanka to account for its failure to bring to justice those who are guilty of perpetuating major human rights abuses?”
With 68,797 registered voters in the 2017 polls, he was returned with a majority of 13,314 votes over his Conservative opponent, up from 2,208 in the 2015 elections. Harrow West has a significant number of “immigrant” communities (Indian, Muslim & Sri Lankan) and is probably one of the constituencies with one of the largest Tamil voters. There are also smaller Sinhalese & SL Muslim communities.
Villers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet raised the question: “I thank the Government for securing United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 34/1 on Sri Lanka, but do Ministers share my grave disappointment that 10 years after the horrors of Mullivaikkal, no one has been brought to justice for war crimes in the Sri Lankan conflict?”
With 77,218 registered voters in the 2017 polls, she was returned to parliament with a razor-thin majority of 353 votes over her Labor opponent, down from 7,656 in the 2015 elections. Even though Chipping Barnet does not have any significant number of voters of Tamil origin, she will need every single vote she can secure if she is to retain her seat in the next general election.
In April 2018, she wished “Puthandu Vazthukal to all my Tamil constituents” and said, “I hope that all my Tamil constituents enjoy the traditional festivities and wish them a very Happy New Year.” There was no ‘Subha Aluth Avuruddak Wewa’ for Sinhalese constituents.
Questions raised by both MPs and the response by the Foreign Secretary must be understood in the context of pandering to the Tamil Diaspora, voter base they so desperately court. Genuine concerns for such ideals as Justice and Accountability must stem from altruistic reasons, and applied impartially rather than selectively for narrow political objectives.
Hunt, Thomas, Villers and all others in the British parliament have failed to utter even one word on behalf of the Chagossians (people of Chagos Islands), forcibly evicted off their land of birth by British authorities in the 1960s and 1970. It has refused to accept the recent International Court of Justice non-binding ruling declaring the annexation of Chagos Islands illegal. They have also failed to speak out of the mess created jointly by the US and UK in Iraq resulting in over a million deaths.
Is this British MP’s understanding of Justice? It indeed is British political hypocrisy at its best!
Joining the fray was Mark Field, MP, and Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for Asia & Pacific stating, “while we accept that positive steps have been taken, much faster progress is needed.”
Should not British MPs worry more about faster progress with the Brexit deal voted by 51.9% of British voters?