Saturday, May 24, 2008

Monday, to Paris, where the Select Committee on International Organisations took evidence on Tuesday from the OECD, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The latter is important to our inquiry on communicable diseases because of the growing threat from epizootic disease that spreads from animals to humans, such as 'mad cow disease' or avian flu. Lunch on Tuesday at the British Embassy.

Wednesday, hosted a tea party for Leyla Zana, the Kurdish leader I had last met in 1993 when we toured eastern Anatolia together. She said that the Turkish constitution had to be amended to remove the clause which declares the unity of the Turkish republic and people, but the Kurdish people aren't asking for independence. On the detailed changes needed, she was cautious, saying that the constitutional amendment was the pre-requisite to discussion of questions such as the degree of local autonomy, mother tongue education etc.

Thursday, my oral question on the arrests of leading Baha'is in Iran, which elicited a sympathetic and helpful reply from the Minister, Mark Malloch-Brown. There had been a Presidential statement by the EU, and the Minister indicated that it might be possible to discuss an emergency Resolution at the Human Rights Council in the first half of June. Whether it would get through, against the 'like-minded states', a coalition of Islamic states plus Russia, China and their allies, may be doubtful. Some pessimists now think the usefulness of the UN human rights system is severely impaired by this line-up.

After Questions, I met Shafiq Chaudhry, who is refurning to Bangladesh to contest the forthcoming election as an Awami League candidate. He was very concerned about the treatment of Sheikh Hasina, the Party Leader, who is denied access to medical advisers of her choice by the caretaker goverrnment.

Next week the House is in recess.

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