Cameron’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ example misleading – GoSL


by Shamindra Ferdinando

British Premier David Cameron was making an attempt to portray the UK’s response to the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland as the perfect example of how accountability issues should be addressed, a senior Sri Lankan official told The Island yesterday.

The official was responding to a statement the Conservative leader made in Parliament on March 26 in response to an oral question asked by Ian Paisley (North Antrim).

MP Paisley: The charge levelled at President Rajapaksa that he has failed to address the issues of the past properly is frequently levelled, in slightly different circumstances about politicians in Northern Ireland. That being the case , why is the Prime Minister being inconsistent? He steadfastly opposes the internationalization of our internal affairs. Surely he should also opposes the internationalization of the internal affairs of a trading partner such as Sri Lanka and urge it to sort out its own problems.

Prime Minister Cameron: I would give two answers to that very incisive question.

First, here in the UK, including in Northern Ireland, we have taken major steps to disinter the past and to discuss it and deal with it. The Bloody Sunday inquiry is one such example.

That has not happened in Sri Lanka. Its lessons learnt exercise is not going into the detail that is needed about the appalling events that happened, particularly at the end of the war. Secondly, though we guard our independence and sovereignty jealously, we did call upon friendly nations, including the United States to help us with our peace processes. Frankly, in confronting one’s own past and one’s own problems, other countries can sometimes help. I think Sri Lanka should take the same approach.

Premier Cameron’s statement was meant to justify UK throwing its weight behind the US-led resolution on Sri Lanka taken up at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 27, the official said.

External Affairs Ministry official said that nothing could be as inappropriate as the Bloody Sunday inquiry as an example. The official said: "What Premier Cameron conveniently didn’t say was that he on behalf of the British government apologized for the Bloody massacre in January 2010 nearly four decades after the British paratroopers killed13 unarmed civilians, seven of them teenagers, in Londonderry. Another died some time later from injuries suffered on January 30, 1972.

The official pointed out that Premier Cameron apologized following the publication of an inquiry report at the end of a 12-year investigation. Responding to a query, the official pointed out that the British media had reported that those facing prosecution would be represented by lawyers hired by the Defence Ministry. The evidence gathered by Lord Saville who spearheaded the Bloody Sunday inquiry too, could not be used for any prosecution as soldiers, who spoke to the judge anonymously, were assured their evidence would not be made available to the police, the official said.

Commenting on UK demanding Sri Lanka to address accountability issues immediately or face the consequences, the official said that the British were yet to publicize their much talked about investigation report on the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The British set up an internal inquiry in July 2009 to probe invasion of a country on the false pretext of searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), while demanding an international inquiry into Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism, the official said.

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