LibLink: Nick Clegg – We must stand up to this tyranny on our doorstep

Nick Clegg – currently in Poland representing the UK at the EU Eastern Partnership summit – has an op-ed in today’s Independent arguing that more must be done to topple Europe’s last dictator in Belarus. As well as his column, the deputy prime minister will also speak to the people of Belarus over the airwaves via European Radio for Belarus and meet with dissidents and democracy campaigners while in Warsaw.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Imagine a country where torture and intimidation are reportedly common place. Where peaceful protesters are locked up – sent to maximum security prison colonies – and free-thinking journalists are harassed. Where a president can rig election-after-election, despite running the economy into the ground. Where most people are too scared to speak out and the death penalty remains.

It could be North Korea, or Zimbabwe, or Iran. But, actually, it’s much closer to home: Belarus, right here in Europe – where Alexander Lukashenko’s regime continues to tighten its grip on power and ride roughshod over human rights.

If it were not for the tragedy, the regime’s current crackdown would be farce. Take their response to a series of silent protests over the summer. In an effort to stay within the law, protestors didn’t use slogans, or signs, just occasional hand-clapping. How did the authorities react? They banned applause. At the Independence Day parades, the public was warned against clapping anyone other than veterans or artists. The result was resounding silence.

Moves are also underway to make it illegal to gather “for planned action or inaction”. In other words, doing nothing in a group is against the law, if you plan it in advance. Kafka would have been impressed.

Such abuses of power are a scandal wherever you find them. But they are especially chilling on European soil. 2011 makes it twenty years since the Soviet Union fell. Europeans believed that, for us, dangerous dictators would become a thing of the past, and democracy and liberty would flourish.

Yet Belarus is trapped in the past: Europe’s shameful secret, right on our doorstep. So I’m determined we speak out and up the pressure on the regime. When popular uprisings exploded across North Africa and the Middle East, the UK took a stand and took it quickly. We will show the same leadership for Belarus.

You can read the article in full over on the Independent’s website here.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Advert

2 Comments

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Chris Moore
    No party "owns" any issue. Everything is contestable. Forgive the typo in my spelling of your name....
  • Chris Moore
    @James Fowlee: why would we want to talk in one word sentences? Why would we want to stand in line and repeat after YOU? Why would we want to say somethi...
  • JohnMc
    Well, given that the Tories have just announced they want to bring back National Service … and that’s their best plan, this is well timed!...
  • James Fowler
    Repeat slowly after me: Labour. Own. The. NHS....
  • David Allen
    There is such a thing as coalition phobia. It's understandable - The Lib Dems made a pig's ear of it, and rightly got punished. But if the Lib Dems can't cure...