A liberal lion not alone – in support of Maajid Nawaz

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The Liberal Democrats are not a bitter and twisted lot. The, or we, are not a lot at all. There are not as many as two larger groupings, but we avoid groupthink and would think of ourselves as a lot of individuals, together. Or not always together. Liberals, by nature, are good soloists as well as sociable choristers!  Perhaps I am preaching to the choir, I think many surely  must know what I mean. When a Liberal Democrat steps back a bit, goes his or her own way, this party do not say, as others seem to, ” good riddance to bad rubbish!” We are far too keen on recycling for this approach!

Very recently a Liberal Democrat withdrew from our party. He had not been active as a member since taking up more independent broadcasting, but he had been a Parliamentary candidate, in the worst election for this party, 2015. His reasons for not currently wanting to continue his membership are, it seems, to work cross party, on serious issues that are above party. He appears to be wanting to be more assertive on things he is vociferous about,  and to maintain a distance as well as not bring the party into controversy, if he needs to criticise politicians.  But whether in or out of the Liberal Democrats, he is one of the strongest proponents of liberalism. His parting comments were, that his departure is not a divorce and that he will always love the Liberal Democrats and send liberals our way.

Maajid Nawaz has been on a quite epic  journey. It is one that we should both relate to and be impressed with. He made the journey from Essex to Egypt, from  Islamism to liberalism, from liberalism to the Liberal Democrats, from the Liberal Democrats to where he is today.

He is on a hunger strike. He is doing it to demand action on behalf of and for the plight of the Uyghur people in China. He wants citizens of the UK to sign a petition to get a debate in Parliament to consider sanctions against the powerful in China. His is specifically a struggle against a government, for a people, not against the people of China. As one who is a prominent voice within the BAME community of the UK, he is very clear to express it as what it is and what it is not.This is an issue about humanity, as I explain on this site, recently, that is important.

The Liberal Democrats in Parliament have a good track record and are very strong on human rights, in general, and the Chinese Communist party in particular. On issues relating to Hong Kong, from Paddy Ashdown, to now, support for the oppressed is always expressed. On the Uyghurs, Alistair Carmichael has been vocal. We all must be. A people face potential genocide. They are already in mass incarceration. This is an issue for more than debate, but that itself is needed more.

We need to show Maajid Nawaz we understand this and that together and as individuals, Liberal Democrats support a fellow liberal, a fellow human being, and a victimised  people.

We should support him by signing the petition.



* Lorenzo Cherin is an actor, writer, and regular contributor to politics as a member of the Liberal Democrats. He is based in Nottingham.

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  • Michael Sammon 17th Jul '20 - 8:56pm

    Absolutely Maajid is a liberal lion not alone. I am proud of you for doing this article Lorenzo. People will not be able to sleep on this for much longer. When ever did we act soon enough on a reported genocide? I hope everyone will sign and share the petition. I call on our leadership candidates place themselves at the front of the campaign to urge parliament to debate sanctions on China and deliver the petition once it surpasses 100,000 signatures. The reports of the China Tribunal make uncomfortable reading. Even a BBC Radio 4 presenter was saying today that what the experts told them is shocking. It is too convenient for the government to sit idly by. https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/17/china-is-harvesting-organs-from-detainees-uk-tribunal-concludes

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jul '20 - 11:34pm

    Mike that is a poignant response, very good of you. We need to be more committed to these issues. It really is too often the issues that are the most solved by the least bluster, eg Brexit, that cause the most upset. An issue such as this and….where are people????????

  • Cllr Mark Wright 18th Jul '20 - 12:57am

    An excellent and very timely post Lorenzo. Majid has been an exceptional liberal voice on a number of important and difficult issues over the last 5 years. He has made a huge and positive impact. Now, it seems he has taken on his biggest challenge yet: nothing less than waking up the Western world to the grave injustice being inflicted onto the Uighur people in China.

    Exactly why the world has taken so long to see this is a mystery. Perhaps it is because so many, like me, wanted to believe that the incredible powerhouse that China has become would only be a good thing. But the sad truth is, we now need to accept that Xi Jinping is a tyrant, and he is going to trash China just as Putin has trashed Russia, and Erdogan Turkey. The time has come to draw a line in the sand.

    I wish Maajid success, and good health on his hunger strike. We should do our best to help him.

  • China will attempt to maximise its influence globally. What its ultimate ambitions are is anyone’s guess. It deserves its place in world affairs and no more. Sooner or later there will be a stand off and let’s hope we have leaders then who can stand up and be counted.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jul '20 - 11:08am

    Thank you this article, Lorenzo. This is the sort of issue that the party, as a liberal and internationalist party, should be talking about

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '20 - 11:57am

    Thank you Mark, Catherine. In a party, out, voices need to be listened to. Maajid is one, we do not need to agree on all issues, but this is a human rights one that is about the right to life, liberty…basic not indulgent, but where are those interested??????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Jul '20 - 3:21pm

    I signed the petition yesterday, Lorenzo, and it seems to be doing quite well at over 60,000 signatures so maybe that will encourage others to sign.
    Of course we must call out China’s human rights abuses and those of any other country, but I think the reason this hasn’t happened is China’s economic growth, which everyone wants a part of, coupled with her power as a military force. The Government is taking a stand against China but I’m afraid that this is more to pretend that the UK is a force to be reckoned with now we are outside the EU and to suck up to their best buddy Donald, not because they are particularly concerned about human rights abuses. It’s important therefore for us to emphasise this issue or it will be forgotten.
    It seems to me that this is a problem that we could work with the Labour Party on to put pressure on the Government. I’m not as committed to working with Labour (or the Tories) as some in the party, but I think in this case it would be valuable to do so.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '20 - 3:31pm

    Thank you Sue and what you write is correct and appropriate. Need to see the petition move up in signatures and so trying to do so with sharing is continuing.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '20 - 5:26pm

    Such a helpful response Ruth, share the piece on social media as it has the link here to that petition. was just on LBC to try to encourage people to just support Maajid on the issue and sign it to, unfortunately a bit of negativity and equivocation there, we keep trying though………………..

  • Completely agree, Maajid Nawaz is a rare example of a genuine small l liberal one of the few still left.

  • Michael Sammon 18th Jul '20 - 7:28pm

    As well as this petition. Here is a link for a template to write to your MP https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1sN-fuByGUVq0m_B7psy7D9ppKuebWGqLhavTQ9Et_Fg/mobilebasic

  • David Evershed 19th Jul '20 - 2:25am

    I admire Maajid Nawa. He is very articulate on liberal issues and a good broadcaster.

    However, no country is going to go to war against China on behalf of the Uyghur people in China.

    The only solution is to persuade people in China to change course – and that means persuading those in power in China. Not easy but the only hope.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '20 - 12:30pm

    David, nobody wants a war, this is about a debate, then about a debate about sanctions!

    Delighted to say that Maajid has got his one hundred thousand signatures!

  • Michael Sammon 19th Jul '20 - 3:52pm

    I feel the next step is we have to call it out for what it is, genocide. Marr said today the footage of people being blindfolded and taken onto trains has been verified. He also asks Raab if he thinks it’s genocide but Raab wouldn’t say. Have a look at the UN definition explained here and see what you think. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11108059

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '20 - 6:34pm

    A good point from Mike. My view is, on this or any other atrocity by definition or description, it is wretched and wrong! That is why it must be stopped!

  • Ruth Bright 20th Jul '20 - 3:25pm

    Newsnight from July 16 gives a compelling account. Forced sterilisation of Uyghur women without even adequate pain relief.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Jul '20 - 10:48am

    Ruth, indeed a definition of genocide includes that.

  • I’ve always liked Maajid and did when he was a candidate in 2015 and its nice to har about him again in a lib dem context, thank you.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jul '20 - 4:56pm

    Thanks Ian. We should engage with him and he with us, as Liberals, liberals, or not, his views and actions are worth it, on the key issues of this sort, his priorities are worthy of full backing.

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