Earlier today (26.11.18) overseas British prisoner Matthew Hedges was pardoned from his imprisonment just one week after being convicted as a spy and handed a life sentence last in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This came after intervention from the Foreign Office and British consulate, as emphasised by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a public statement.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt is yet to even name Jagtar Singh Johal, British Sikh political prisoner, who has been detained in India for over one year now, and has completely ignored requests to meet Jagtar Singh’s family. This situation prompted public outcry against Hunt’s contrasting treatment to Jagtar Singh and his family.
Here Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh, a lead of the Free Jaggi Now, reacts to the Matthew Hedges’ release in regards to his own brother’s situation.
Today the world saw that through swift and decisive intervention from the Foreign Secretary, Matthew Hedges has been pardoned from his imprisonment in UAE and will be returning home.
The fact that supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign saw this happen before our eyes after a year of constant campaigning has only led to more hurt and frustration regarding Jaggi’s situation, something evident through a reaction seen on social media.
I know exactly what Matthew’s family has been going through, for I have been going through the same myself. I welcome the fact that tonight, one less family is suffering the hell I am.
Jeremy Hunt’s actions over the past week have proved that the government does have considerable influence in aiding innocent Britons overseas. Every effort has been put in for a British citizen named Matthew Hedges; nothing has been done for a British citizen named Jagtar Singh Johal.
You can come to your own conclusions as to why.
I have asked the Foreign Secretary several times for a meeting to discuss Jagtar’s detainment. These requests have been consistently denied and ignored. But he met Matthew’s wife, and rightly praised her for her fortitude. What makes Mathew Hedges’ family more important than mine to the Foreign Secretary?
My brother has still not been granted private consular access. Despite putting himself in incredible danger to tell the government of his torture, this government has not even been able to secure him an independent medical examination. In April, the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office visited Punjab where my brother was being held but decided to totally ignore the tortured British citizen detained just miles away.
Nobody can call what Jagtar is going through a fair legal process. It has been more than a year since the Chief Minister of Punjab boasted that the authorities had all the evidence against Jagtar. Yet despite 70 shoddy judicial hearings no evidence of any kind has been presented against my brother. The Foreign Secretary has spoken out against the lack of evidence against Matthew Hedges while remaining silent on the lack of evidence against Jagtar.
In all this, Jeremy Hunt has clearly demonstrated the government’s double standards. I ask all those celebrating Matthew Hedges’ release to now turn their attention to the plight of my brother. Together, if we all speak out, maybe we can see our government give a British Sikh prisoner the same treatment Matthew Hedges has received.