We used to be the party that cared. We used to debate about issues that involved people's lives and how we would try and make things better for them. Now we spend hours debating about our position on the ranking scale of politics i.e are we centre left, progressives or economic/social liberals but then don't do anything with it. We are in power and we have the means to find solutions and answers to the problems that we previously spent time trying to make a difference to.
I now call upon the party to help the Tamils who suffered during the war in 2009 between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers. A programme on Channel 4 was screened last week called 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'. I wasn't allowed to watch it but I have seen short clips of it since. The programme showed actual mobile phone and video footage of the suffering endured by the Tamils.
The Lib Dems did care. On 29 April 2009 an Opposition Day debate was called by our MPs in the House of Commons. The motion was moved by Ed Davey who said:
'That this House is concerned that the fighting in Sri Lanka has already had a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of civillians with thousands killed and wounded, many tens of thousands traumatised and suffering from lack of food, water and basic medicines...'
Simon Hughes was one of the first, if not the first, MP to talk to the Tamils who were demonstrating in Parliament Square during that period. We looked after the Gurkhas.
David Miliband has been the only British politician to speak out on this issue. Barely any one of the British press have written or reported about the programme. This programme is important because it provides real evidence of what went on during the war. The Sri Lankan government sent away journalists and the UN and then later said that it hadn't harmed any civillians. The truth is that they didn't want any witnesses to what they did to civillians. The Tamil Tigers were to blame to and shelled and killed the Tamils. However, the point is that the Sri Lankan Government did not follow the international laws on war. Now we have evidence.
The UN produced a report in April this year called 'Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka' which said that war crimes were committed by the Government of Sri Lanka. The secretary-general, Ban-Ki Moon, has not initiated any action. China and Russia side with Sri Lanka and it seems that the UN has too.
The Liberal Democrats are part of the Government. We need to take up the position of being the party that cares, NOT the party that cared. Our mid-term rewrite of the coalition agreement is coming up and I really hope we put in there 'War Crimes'. There's thousands of Tamils in this country.
We can still debate political positions but we then need to use this to do something. I study maths in school and wonder what I am going to do with all the formulaes I learn but one day I will use it to calculate my mortgage and bills. In this way we must go into society and care.
This issue is very important to me because I am half-Tamil. I was one of thousands in Parliament Square during that period demonstrating. People told me about how worried they were about their relatives who were in danger of being killed but I didn't realise the full horrific extent of it all. I now know.
Below is a quote about the UN and some links. Please look at them.
'You won't need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones.' George Clooney 14 Sept 2006 in a speech to the UN.