Letter: Pinochet's destiny

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The events that have been unfolding around the arrest of General Pinochet, not least Lady Thatcher's letter, raise a number of issues that obviously go far deeper than whether or not he should be released. Lady Thatcher pointed out that the Government seems to have double standards, "cosying up" to the Chinese government and then turning around and arresting the general.

Lady Thatcher argued that because General Pinochet supported Britain during the Falklands War, and in doing so helped to save many British lives, we should, in return, ignore or dismiss his past history. Her argument is thus essentially that any country or person who abuses human rights should be excused if they have supported, or promise in some way to support Britain.

Following that, if China agreed to, for example, ensure that Britain continued to have influence in Hong Kong, then Britain in return would ignore the abuses that have been carried out in both China and Tibet and Lady Thatcher could then support Tony Blair as he "cosies up" to China.

If this is the way that Britain is running its foreign policy then perhaps it is time that we took a closer look at the way we relate to other countries. If we are going to continue to assert that we are a democratic nation, one that recognises that all peoples should have access to basic human rights, and use this to justify our intervention in other countries (such as Serbia), then we need to assert this in all cases.

JANINA MACDONALD

London SE5

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