Former US President Barak Obama was once credited with saying sunlight is the best form of disinfectant when it comes to transparency … just before he tried – and subsequently failed – to get the Guantanamo files, videos and photographs made public.
The contents, we were told later, were so shocking that Obama decided it was better for the safety of all Americans overseas, that the files remained closed so horrific were the contents.
So I suppose various UK governments have acted in the same way over Britain’s dirty dealings both home and abroad when it comes to declassifying documents.
However, a tribunal has ordered that secret Downing Street files relating to Anglo-Indian relations at the time of the 1984 massacre at the Golden Temple of Amritsar must be made public.
Campaigners say a dossier could reveal further information about the the military role played by the Thatcher Government in the deaths of hundreds and possibly thousands at Sikhism’s holiest shrine following a violent assault by the Indian army in June 1984.
It seems as though the operation was aided by an elite unit from the British Army’s special forces, the SAS. Naturally the Foreign Office is trying to hold on tight to the dossier which it says could seriously affect relations with India it the papers are declassified.
The decision of the tribunal is a tribute to the work of investigative journalist Phil Miller who has been relentless in his determination since 2014 to get to the bottom of the Amritsar massacre after it emerged that an SAS officer had been dispatched in February 1984 with the approval of Thatcher to advise on Indian army plans to remove dissident Sikhs occupying the temple.
The truth will out on this shameful episode in Indian history and the full extent of British involvement will emerge eventually – it is better Theresa May does the decent thing and hand over the papers now so a full inquiry can be held into the murky affair.
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