Labour Party demands Foreign Policy change from Brown
Justice For Colombia News |
on: Monday, 24 September 2007
An unprecedented coalition of senior Labour Party figures - spearheaded by Chair of the NEC and 2007 conference chair Mike Griffiths, Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Tony Lloyd MP, and Chair of the European Parliamentary Labour Party Richard Howitt MEP – and including over 140 MP's, all of the party's MEP's, every non government member of the governing National Executive Committee, and every affiliated trade union general secretary will present a statement to the party's annual conference, on Monday (24th) demanding an end to military aid to Colombia, a key US/UK foreign policy ally.
The move - the first direct challenge to the foreign policy intentions of Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Milliband - comes after Democrat counterparts in the US Congress successfully froze a free trade agreement with Colombia and cut military aid on human rights grounds. The UK and the US are alone in providing military aid to Colombia, a country with an appalling human rights record.
The statement is expected to be rejected by the government, who provide "classified" military aid to Colombia as well as granting arms exports licences to the regime. This policy continues despite Colombia remaining on the Foreign Office's internal list of "countries of serious concern" for human rights.
It is known that the UK has provided "assistance" to the controversial High Mountain Battalions who are accused of committing murders and abductions of trade unionists among others.
Tony Lloyd MP, a former Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for relations with Colombia said "Our military assistance to Colombia, with the unquestionable record of collusion between the army and the paramilitary death squads will continue to face challenge. I hope that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary will look hard at the breadth and detail of this statement. The Labour Party cannot accept support for a regime which either by design or neglect allows the most vile and violent crimes to take place against trade unionists and ordinary citizens without check or remedy."
Another of the lead signatures, Richard Howitt MEP, added that "With mounting evidence of high level links between the political elite in Colombia, drug trafficking and paramilitary violence, I believe that it is now the right time for the United Kingdom to review its policy towards the Colombian conflict. It is absolutely consistent to stand up against drugs and terrorism, whilst at the same time reinforcing a position which condemns human rights abuses on all sides in this bloody war. In particular I hope the UK can champion the proposal for a humanitarian exchange of prisoners in Colombia amongst our fellow European Union countries."
Labour Party NEC Chair Mike Griffiths said "Having visited Colombia this summer and seen for myself the appalling situation, particularly for trade unionists and indigenous peoples, there is a need to clearly express our feelings. We simply cannot justify supporting the Uribe administration and should cease all military aid with immediate effect. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch agree that the provision of this aid sends the wrong signal and we should rectify it."
For more information contact the JFC office on 0207 794 3644.