1. Simon Hughes launched an attack on Sri Lanka and its government in his speech intended to welcome members of Liberal International. He did this knowing that the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka is part of that government. He also did it in knowing contravention of facts.
2. To cite one obvious example, he implied that the ICRC was not allowed in during the conflict in Sri Lanka. In fact the ICRC was present throughout, and I had informed him of this when we last met. He affected surprise at this, and said he would check, but clearly he failed to do so. I attach two letters, one from the ICRC, the other from the Commissioner General of Essential Services, making clear our joint efforts to help our citizens held hostage by the LTTE. An extract from a UNICEF publication makes clear what was being done to these people.
3. Two days previously Mr Hughes had been invited to a meeting in the House of Commons at which the Sri Lankan government presented its version of what had happened. I was told that Mr Hughes had asked to attend, but he failed to turn up. I asked him why, and he said he had sent a researcher. However he added that he had not had a report from that researcher. While he may have been busy, it was utterly irresponsible to have made such categorical comments about Sri Lanka without having checked.
4. Mr Hughes used the word genocide, for which he had no justification whatsoever. Such loose talk is precisely what must be avoided if R2P is to be interpreted and activated productively. I attach as an example of the sort of improper demonizing that goes on a copy of what the BBC put on its website with regard to Sri Lanka. It was only after it was pointed out that they had used a picture from Mexico to illustrate their story that the picture was changed, to a much less charged one.
5. It is particularly important to repudiate Mr Hughes’ selective viciousness in the context of the decision to pay special attention to LGBT issues with regard to Human Rights activism. Mr Hughes won election to the house 28 years ago, as was mentioned, after a nasty campaign against Peter Tachell who was targeted as being a homosexual activist. It was only much later that, having benefited from this unprincipled assault, Mr Hughes confessed to being gay himself. His present performance is yet another example of a man investing himself with sanctimoniousness with no understanding of fair play.
6. The President of Liberal International and the Liberal International British Group representative on the Bureau both affirmed that what Mr Hughes had done was quite unacceptable. I urge however that this be conveyed to him in writing. I ask also that LI reaffirm the obligation on all members to voice criticism of fellow members when the right to respond is available. While we must all question each other and debate issues of principle, it is vulgar to take advantage of special status to attack others who are unable to defend themselves.