By TU Senan
‘Disgusting’ is quite a mild word to describe Peter Heap’s CiF article article in Monday’s Guardian. In it he defends the Sri Lankan state, a state that stands accused of war crimes.
To begin with Peter tries to play the numbers game, claiming the number of Tamil people killed in 2009 in the closing stages of the war was much less than the widely acknowledged 40,000. He also points the finger of blame mostly at the LTTE, despite reports of the army bombing hospitals and no-fire zones.
Peter’s free and easy way with numbers is somewhat concerning or only to be expected, depending on your point of view, given he is an adviser to the board of HSBC Investment Bank. But he obviously takes his boss’s branding seriously and treats the world as a ‘local bank’ – one where he and his ilk try to withdraw cash at every opportunity. He works with various businesses that also look to exploit workers across the world.
Then Peter, who arrogantly claims Sri Lanka’s critics don’t understand “what the country had gone through” explains to us that Sri Lanka has been a ‘functioning democracy’ since independence. The stacks of evidence to the contrary, including the UNHRC report, do not feature in Peter’s rosy world. By his logic we must dismiss the devastating conclusions of Navi Pillay, the UN commissioner for human rights, who investigated the situation and said that the Sri Lankan government is heading towards dictatorship.
The prognosis if not good for finding a cure for Peter’s ‘business cataracts’ that stop him seeing beyond the world of big business profit. His argument moves on to Sri Lanka’s ranking on human rights abuses. It is the 68th worst country for human rights out of the 168 countries studied. Somehow in Peter’s view that translates to mean democracy is functioning!
A poisonous, disingenuous comment in the Guardian is one thing. But readers should know that the Con-Dem government also inhabits Peter’s topsy-turvy world. Its much vaunted ‘concerns’ for human rights are not so determined that they overstep the demands of big business profit.
Peter’s comments unmask the real Tory stance on this issue. The bosses of the CHOGM business club are the British government and they will try to milk whatever they can out of all its member states. David Cameron earlier confirmed the key aim is to establish business links.
Peter’s last comments shed further light. He argues: “When on the horizon lies the possibility of Britain leaving the EU, is this the time to snub the Commonwealth? Such an extreme step is surely not justified.” So leaving the EU – or staying on in the Commonwealth are not considered based on human rights but purely based on the interests of the 1%. It’s a business decision.
What should be the response to the madness? All activists and progressive people and organisations along with all the Tamils in the UK should come forward to cut all links with Tories. And join with those who say that the struggle must continue.