January 23, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London, United Kingdom (January 22, 2014): In February last year David Cameron became the first sitting British Prime Minister to visit the Harmander Sahib (Golden Temple) Complex.
Ten days ago letters discovered by Phil Miller implicated the Margaret Thatcher led government at the time in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in Amritsar in June 1984.
David Cameron immediately realized the sensitivity of the disclosures, the damage it may do to the Conservative Party electorally, reacted quickly and within 24 hours ordered an urgent enquiry asking the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to investigate British advice to the Indian authorities in 1984.
Interestingly he also asked the investigation to look into the decision to release such sensitive government papers, suggesting this may have been a mistake and more documents may never be made public.
Given the publicity and political pressure created by MPs of the opposition Labour Party, led by backbench MP Tom Watson, it came as no surprise that Prime Minister’s Questions a couple of days later was used to challenge David Cameron to request full disclosure, push for a statement in the House and the possibility of a Parliamentary debate.
The Prime Minister said the investigation would be fast, find the truth and make it public. In addition, he suggested a statement in the House was likely. However, full disclosure of documents, a debate in Parliament and the timeline were not confirmed.
The letter writing campaign and Sikh lobby in Parliament organized by the Sikh Federation (UK) taking place today and petition to be delivered to 10 Downing Street by the 1984 Genocide Coalition will keep up pressure on the UK Government to provide full disclosure, establish the truth and come clean as early as possible.
UK Sikhs held a lobby with MPs on January 23, 2014. The Sikh lobby was extremely well attended by Sangat and MPs with many standing in Committee Room 11.
The 19 MPs from across the UK came and spoke at the lobby. Other MPs met with constituents during the lobby.
Organizers also met Tom Watson after the lobby.
All of them expressed their shock with the revelations and absolute focus and support in obtaining the complete truth to any and all involvement of the UK government as well as pushing other EU member states to also disclose what contact India made and any pressure exerted.
Many of the Sangat had the opportunity to ask MPs questions and also discuss the possible next step within the political process.
General consensus was that we need to wait for the Cabinet Secretary’s report and after a review, some of the actions mentioned that could be taken included:
• PM Statement in the Commons
• Formal Apology by the PM & UK Government
• Backbench cross party MP lead investigation
• Full Public Enquiry
• Foreign Affairs Select Committee review and Investigation
MPs who attended and spoke:-
1. John McDonnell MP – Hays & Harlington
2. Fabian Hamplton MP – Leeds NE
3. John Spellar MP – Warley
4. Zac Goldsmith MP – Richmond Park
5. Mike Gapes MP – Ilford South
6. Pat McFadden MP – Wolverhampton SE
7. Caroline Nokes MP – Romsey & Southampton North
8. Valerie Vaz MP – Walsall South
9. Pauline Latham MP – Mid Derbyshire
10. Virender Sharma MP – Ealing, Southall
11. Keith Vaz MP – Leicester East
12. Dan Byles MP – North Warwickshire
13. Edward Garnier MP – Harborough
14. John Cryer MP – Leyton & Wanstead
15. Paul Uppal MP – Wolverhampton
16. Fiona Mactaggart MP – Slough
17. Seema Malhotra MP – Feltham & Heston
18. Adrian Bailey MP – West Bromwich West
19. Chris Williamson MP – Derby North
According to Sikh Federation UK an internal investigation by the most senior civil servant, an announcement in the Houses of Parliament and a possible debate are unlikely to be enough to establish the true impact of pressure and threats by the Indian authorities in the last 30 years on the UK Government in trying to subdue British Sikhs.
As a minimum a select committee type inquiry, calling for written evidence and witnesses seems necessary as evidence has already emerged that the UK Parliament was misled in 1984, information withheld and insufficient challenge of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary at the time.
It has also become clear the Indian authorities have for at least the last 30 years almost certainly been pressuring other foreign governments i.e. Germany, Canada and the United States to not only minimize sympathy for Sikhs in the Diaspora, but to suppress any criticism of India’s human rights record.
Sikhs are therefore rightly demanding an independent international enquiry into the truth of what took place in the run up to June 1984, during Operation Bluster, the Sikh Genocide in November 1984 and widespread human rights violations against the Sikhs. The least David Cameron could do would to be to commit to support British Sikhs at the UN to push for an independent international enquiry.
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Related Topics: David Cameron, Fabian Hamplton, Indian State, June 1984 attack on Sikhs, Margaret Thatcher, Operation Blue Star, Sikh Diaspora, Sikh Federation UK, Tom Watson, UK and June 1984 attack on Sikhs