Thursday, May 21, 2009


The House rose this afternoon for the Whitsun recess.

Monday I had a urodynamics test at King's, to measure the performance of my bladder, see for the details. Then to the House to field a question on our immigration controls across the Channel in France and Belgium. Later, had a meeting with campaigners for Dr Binayak Sen, the human rights campaigner who has been held in custody for over two years by the authorities in Chhattisgarh state, India. He had been a vigorous defender of the rights of the adivasis, and made himself unpopular as a result. The Indian High Commissioner doesn't answer letters about him, or meet the campaigners, and they wanted advice on how to step up their activities.

Tuesday my old friend Manjit Singh came to lunch. He is now manager of the Canary Wharf unit of the London Underground, and has won several awards for the efficiency of his operations. At question time I joined in David Alton's Question on Burma. One of the problems in bringing pressure to bear on this psychopathis regime is that the neighbours have always been silent, but now for the first time the ASEAN group has expressedd strong concern about the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Wednesday Ozcan Keles abd Ms Ilkhur Kahraman came to lunch to talk about the work of their Dialogue Society, which underlines the true Muslim emphasis on interfaith and cross-cultural exchanges based on mutual respect and understanding. They hoped that in the process, ideologies based on confrontation between Islam and the rest of the world (Jahiliya, the kingdom of ignorance, as Qutb thought of the infidels and the majority of Muslims who didn't subscribe to his version of Islam) would be sidelined. The Government's strategy for dealing with violent extremism, CONTEST, also involves challenging the ideology behind violent extremism and support for
mainstream voices, so the Dialogue Society ought to be welcomed.

At Questions, I joined in Lindsay Northover's question on the situation in Sri Lanka, well timed in coming just after the final defeat of the LTTE terrorists. The worries now are that the humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross and the ICRC are not being given full access to the former conflict zone and the camps holding the w=quarter of a million people freed from LTTE control, and that there will be a long delay before President Rajapakse brings moderate Tamils to the table to discuss governance of the north and east where they form the majority.

After that, a visit from my friend Tajammul Hussain, for a useful discussion on devekopments in Pakistan and south Asia generally.

This morning, my own Question, on the situation in Somalia, where almost a million people are internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries, and the Al Shabaab extremists are extending their control into more and more of the country. David Steel pointed out that only Somaliland was peaceful, and he wanted to know if the Government would recognise their independence.

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