Letter: Government silence on Rwanda genocide

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Sir: Like all MPs, I am receiving dozens of cards and letters about Rwanda. Your extensive coverage reflects public concern.

So why does Douglas Hurd refuse to make a statement to the House of Commons about the Government's position? For months the genocide has gone on: 500,000 have died, countless others are refugees in one of the poorest parts of the world - and still he is silent.

An Opposition Day debate last week and adjournment debate called by myself are the only occasions on which Rwanda has been debated in the House of Commons. Last week, junior ministers totally failed to address the issue. There was no attempt to lay out a British response to the French initiative. For whatever motive, the French are at least trying. What is our contribution to the United Nations peace- keeping initiative? A miserable 50 trucks.

Last month, there was an extraordinary meeting of the UN Commission of Human Rights in Geneva to discuss the genocide in Rwanda. In 1948, we signed the UN Convention on Genocide, saying we would never stand aside again. Mr Hurd did not even send a minister to Geneva to take action on Rwanda's genocide.

His indifference to Rwanda is part of a long pattern: Angola, Sudan, Somalia. You will look in vain for leadership from Douglas Hurd on that continent where Britain's influence has been the greatest among the Western powers. Just how do we justify our place on the UN Security Council?

Yours sincerely


MP for Clydebank and Milngavie (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

28 June