Southwark Liberal democrats celebrated the unbroken services of Sir Simon Hughes for the last 32 years as MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey. Young Tamil Political Activist also joined this event to show their gratitude for his invaluable service extended to the Tamils in the UK and in Sri Lanka.
Sir Simon Henry Ward Hughes (born 17 May 1951) is a British politician. Hughes was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2014, and from 2013 until 2015 was Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice. He was the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark (and its predecessors) from 1983 until 2015.
Until 2008 he was President of the Liberal Democrats (the party president chairs a number of party committees and also represents the party at official functions). Hughes has twice run unsuccessfully for the leadership of the party and was its unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of London in the 2004 election. He is also Chair of the trustees for the Thames Festival, a weekend of events on London’s South Bank. He was appointed as a Privy Counsellor on 15 December 2010. In December 2013 Hughes was appointed as a Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties and announced he would stand down as Deputy Leader upon the election of a successor.
Ms Eliza Mann, the Councillor Representing Riverside ward in the London Borough of Southwark stated in her welcome note that “Sir Simon Hughes brought enormous benefit and support to the diverse community he served by bringing three Jubilee Lines to Southwark, bringing first Bermondsey academy for secondary school children and services to thousands of individuals in their troubled times to alleviate their problems of housing, health, safety, security, school admission, immigration, supporting many charities, voluntary organisations and human rights of many communities etc., etc.”
Mr Jeyapalan Manoharan and Mr Thirukumar Selvaratnam lead a team of young Tamil Political activist representing the Tamil Political Organisations including BTF, TGTE, TIC and ICPPG who joined this event and thanked Sir Simon Hughes with a garland for his services for the Tamil Community for the last 32 years. Sir Simon Hughes took time to sit down and listen to their horrific experience in Sri Lanka.
Mr Jeyapalan Manoharan when speaking to the public stated, “I was detained and tortured by the Sri Lankan authorities purely for being a Tamil and demanding equal rights. This continues to happen to most of the Tamil youth and we were forced to flee from our homeland. We came to the UK as destitute to save our lives. While most others treated us with hate, very few people like Sir Simon Hughes lent us a helping hand. We are alive today because of such good-hearted gentlemen like Sir Simon Hughes. He acknowledged the pain of the refugees who were forced to flee from their own home and beg others for their life. He helped us to wipe our tears. He treated us as human beings and fought for us. We, the Tamil community in the UK are indebted for him for the rest of our lives. We will always be grateful for his invaluable service”
Mr Thirukumar Selvaratnam who himself was a victim of torture and later became a leading Tamil activist in the UK told the media “It was Sir Simon Hughes who first publicly acknowledged that the Sri Lankan Government is committing a Genocide in Sri Lanka. He bravely declared this in the British Parliament and in the UN while all other Politicians turned a blind eye. He not only spoke out, but also acted in real and helped us in various ways to fight against the Genocide. It was Sir Simon Hughes who obtained the Police permission for the UK Tamil community to protest for 78 days against the Sri Lanka’s inhuman onslaught of our families in thousands in Mullivaikal by breaching all UN Treaties. He also initiated many debates and tabled question on the rights of the Tamils in Parliament.”
Everyone was shocked to listen to the account of Mr Hajeevan Thamilalagan who had been detained and tortured in Sri Lanka until very recently. He managed to escape, flee Sri Lanka and arrived in the UK in the end of 2015. He is a living witness of the on-going torture and the Genocide in Sri Lanka despite the change of the new Government. This is a big blow to the rising delusion that there are improvements in the human rights situation and the Tamils are no longer at risk in Sri Lanka. Sir Simon Hughes praised his braveness to speak out and encouraged him in his fight for justice.
Mr Paranthaman Paramsothy, Mr Amal Sinthujan, Mr Karththeepan Yogamanoharan, Mr Thajeepan Shanmuganathan, Mr Prasath Magalingam, Mr Anton Nithyananthan, Mr Sajeevan Thamilalagan and Mr Ragulan Sachithanantham were among the team who had a detailed discussion with Sir Simon Hughes about the possible avenues to fight against the Genocide and achieving justice for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Sir Simon Hughes made a promise to continue to speak up for our basic and fundamental rights. The team wished him all the best in his future endeavours on behalf of the Tamil Community.