Hot on the heels of Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary's dubious meetings with President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka (who presided over the wholesale slaughter of Tamil civilians and arrested for treason a man who dared stand against him in the elections), Paul Uppal spies opportunity knocking.
Who's he talking too? Well, it's Foxy himself. Clearly the presence of Fox's business partner, researcher, flatmate and best man at every meeting he had doesn't deter our doughty defender of business interests:
Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West, Conservative) I thank my right hon. Friend for the sterling work he has done in respect of Sri Lanka. Will he elaborate on the work that he has done in relation to the Sri Lanka Development Trust, and specifically on the work that Ministers have done in that regard?
Liam Fox (Secretary of State, Defence; North Somerset, Conservative) As I have said, the point of involvement in Sri Lanka is to create greater stability which will contribute to stability in the region. I was particularly keen to see a mechanism for investment that could reduce some of the regulatory restrictions imposed by the Sri Lankan Government, on the basis that a proportion of the profits would go into social projects that would benefit ethnic minorities. I still hope that that project will succeed, and give it my full support.
To recap: Sri Lanka's government murdered thousands of people, and Dr. Fox paid a social call to Rajapaksa to congratulate him, bringing along his little pet. Now he reckons the only problems is Sri Lanka are 'regulatory restrictions'. Here are some highlights:
One of the most serious claims of violations of the laws of war and human rights law centers on the shelling of civilian areas, including hospitals, during the final phases of the conflict.
The Sri Lankan army has been accused of knowingly shelling Puthukudiyiruppu Hospital in February 2009. When an eyewitness to that incident, Dr. T. Vartharajah – one of the Tamil government doctors who was detained by the army at the end of the conflict was questioned about this incident, LLRC members repeatedly asked about the position of LTTE artillery, the presence of LTTE members inside the hospital and LTTE imposed restrictions on freedom of movement. Dr. Vartharajah was never asked whether government forces shelled the hospital. (After some time in detention, Dr. Vartharajah publicly recanted reports of civilian war casualties at a government-sponsored press conference, leading to charges that he had been compelled to contradict his earlier statements.)
Enforced disappearances are a gross violation of human rights and a particularly persistent form of abuse in Sri Lanka – where tens of thousands from earlier periods of conflict still remain unresolved and unpunished – but enforced disappearance is not specified as a crime under Sri Lankan lawNo doubt the whole exchange is part of the whipped (i.e. compulsory) Tory turnout in defence of their bent colleague, which shows you what a mightily independent 'thinker' Mr Uppal is. If you need an arse licked, he's your man. I hope he's proud of himself.