Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nick Clegg stands up for human rights in Belarus and warns of divisions in EU

Nick Clegg has a piece in the Independent today in which he outlines the abuses of human rights carried out by the Government of Belarus.

This Summer, after protesting was banned by the Government (which, by the way, shut down social networks in much the way certain people were calling for here during the riots), people took to the streets and applauded as Ruth Collins reported on the Huffington Post. An ingenious idea, which was soon met with a ban on applause.

I like the fact that Nick is using pretty strong language, not the sort you often find in diplomatic circles, and is encouraging the EU to stand up against what's going on on its doorstep.
"If we are learning anything from events across the Arab world... it's this: you cannot deny people their rights and freedoms forever. Not in today's world," he will say. "Not when the forces of youth, technology and economic grievance are colliding to drive change across the globe. Pushing the oppressed and forgotten to find their voice. You cannot rig an election, squash dissent, destroy liberty, run an economy into the ground, without, eventually, paying the price."
Last week at the Guardian debate at Lib Dem Conference, both Vince Cable and Paddy Ashdown talked of the dangers of the current economic crisis leading to wars and nationalism as it did in the 30s. Paddy in particular talked of the importance of strengthening global alliances and governance, not stepping back into our own wee corners.

Nick carries on this theme in his speech today to European leaders in Poland: we look back at the end of the Soviet Union, a moment when all Europeans watched with both awe and unease as old certainties vanished, we are again at a turning point in our history.
Now, as then, Europeans face a choice: drift apart, retreat to our corners, and undo the work of those who came before us; or, amidst the rubble of the current strife, find each other once more - a united European Union, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in the East; standing together for the sake of our common good.

This is all very sensible stuff. Am I wrong to take pleasure in that it will also make Bill Cash and his mates on the rabidly Eurosceptic wing of the Tory Party froth at the mouth?

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