Issue 274


LI at UNHRC calls for ICC proceedings against Syria

Addressing the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, LI Vice President and Chair of LI Human Rights Committee, Abir Al-Sahlani MP, spoke of the importance of applying tougher international response on the on-going humanitarian crisis in Syria. In her oral statement delivered on behalf of Liberal International Al-Sahlani stressed the need for an urgent address of the humanitarian crisis and for a long-term roadmap for regime change in Syria: “Liberal International condemns the brutal actions of the Syrian authorities and it urges this Human Rights Council to recommend to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and freeze President Bashar Al-Assad's assets. Liberal International calls on the governments in the Middle East and North Africa to answer to the genuine calls of the popular revolt, establish genuine participatory liberal democracies, abolish all repressive legislation that disrespects human rights and release all human rights activists and political prisoners.” LI was the only NGO with UN ECOSOC consultative status that addressed the minority rights in Syria.


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LI delegation carries important mission at UNHRC

In the framework of the 19th UNHRC Session in Geneva, LI delegation met with the German Federal Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning and the Human Rights Officer of the EU Permanent Representation to the UN, Jerome Bellion-Jourdan. LI Deputy President Juli Minoves and HR Officer Tamara Dancheva introduced the revived LI HR Project, to which the EU representative commented: “the EU advances Human Rights Issues that are very close to those LI is working on. I see further dialogue with LI as mutually beneficial.” Commissioner Löning stressed the importance of raising LI's profile on various human rights issues and “working closely with German NGOs and churches in order to get an insight into countries with problematic HR records.” The LI delegation led by LI VP and HRC Chair Abir Al-Sahlani MP included Treasurer Robert W Browne, Mila Eklund (Centerpartiet) Naomi Røkkum (IFLRY), Makarar Thhai (Sam Rainsy Party), and Alexandra Åhlén (SILC). Andy Sundberg, LI representative to the UNHRC in Geneva, hosted a dinner attended by former US diplomats and representatives from Human Rights Watch, ILO, EU, and UNHRC.


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LI VP Soler’s discusses RELIAL, Bolivia, Peru, in Latin-America

In Lima, Peru LI VP Josep Soler met with Héctor Ñaupari interim President of RELIAL (LI Cooperating Organisation), to discuss the input of Liberal International at RELIAL's June Congress. Meetings with other prominent politicians included the former Peruvian Prime Minister Dr. Beatriz Merino. LI Vice-President Soler reminded his Peruvian liberal counterparts of “the high priority of the LI President and the Bureau to strengthen the liberal presence in Latin America, and their strong determination to support liberal political projects in both the different countries and the region.” While visiting Bolivia, Liberal International and Relial active contacts expressed to VP Soler increasing worries on the recent government moves. LI Vice President commented that “a combination of the threats of narco-traffic, FARC, and increasing influence of Iran and Cuba are the main challenges for a country where the opposition remains unfortunately weak and disunited. The government is losing control of the situation. Only high commodities prices are supporting the government these days.” The Latin America tour of VP Soler included meetings with liberals in Ecuador.


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LibDem Conference: Britain Stronger, Fairer, Greener, Freer

The UK Liberal Democrats (LI full member) held their Spring Conference in Gateshead from 9-11 March. Party Leader and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged delegates to look forward to the future rather than the battles of the past. In his speech he looked at 2015 announcing “because of us there will be: the first gay marriage, end to child detention, the first bank levy, an end to huge tax loopholes for the rich, the first elections to House of Lords… an end to the myth that Liberal Democrats can't govern.” We are governing to fix our economy. We are governing to fight for fairness. We are in government - and we are on your side. Business Minister Vince Cable agreed that the burden of taxation should fall on those most able to pay. LibDems want all those earning only the minimum wage to be exempt from income tax. Major debates were held on health service reforms and on the situation in the European Union. Liberal International Treasurer Robert Woodthorpe Browne attended the Conference.



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Sam Rainsy new chair of CALD

Delegates from member parties and observers of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats - CALD (LI cooperating organisation) assembled in Colombo, Sri Lanka for a meeting of the Executive Committee under the theme “The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy”. CALD's activities for 2012 were agreed and a resolution recognizing the dignified role of Dr. Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwanese politics was passed. The members of CALD signed a collective letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD wishing them success on the upcoming by-elections in Burma. The Sam Rainsy Party (LI full-member) was elected as CALD new chair-party and Sam Rainsy was elected as the new chair of CALD. Sam Rainsy was grateful for the election: “CALD is solidarity in action. In the next two years as CALD Chair, the Sam Rainsy Party will strive to further strengthen and deepen the bonds amongst CALD members, and even extend our reach to other like-minded political parties, towards our goal of making a more liberal and democratic Asian region.”


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DA leaders outline next election goals

Speaking at the DA's Gauteng Provincial Congress in Thaba Tswane, Pretoria, Helen Zille, leader of Democratic Alliance (LI Full member) and Lindiwe Mazibuko, DA Parliamentary Leader, emphasized the importance of Gauteng as the next frontier for South Africa for democracy and for the country's future. According to Mazibuko, in the 2014 provincial and national elections one of DA's primary goals is to govern Gauteng Province ‘either by winning outright or in a coalition' “Gauteng is the nation's most diverse province, and our country's economic heartland. The DA is the most diverse political party in South Africa today. If the DA wins here, we can win everywhere” she added. Helen Zille raised concern about the ANC's policy direction and stressed that it was “designed for convincing freedom-loving South Africans to participate in destroying democracy”. She commented further saying “the constitution was designed to protect citizens from power abuse and the truth is this, South Africa, your constitution hasn't failed you, your government has.” DA aims at 30 % at the 2014 elections.


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Military prosecutes twelve revolutionaries in Egypt

A year after Maikel Nabil, a prominent blogger and Human Rights activist was jailed for insulting the ruling military SCAF, twelve famous activists of Egypt have been referred to military prosecution for inciting hatred against the SCAF. Just as in the case of Nabil where Liberal International and its members campaigned intensively until his release in January 2012, now the liberals are voicing their support for the new political prisoners. In a joint statement, Guy Verhofstadt MEP, ALDE leader commented: “It is absurd that people who succeeded in bringing down a dictator are now accused of bringing down the State.” Marietje Schaake MEP (D66, Netherlands) stated: “Military trials for civilians are a grave injustice and never amount to a fair trial. These are tools from Mubarak´s toolbox that belong in the past.' European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott MEP (LibDems, UK) said: 'Egypt is living through the worst crackdown of human rights for 25 years. With the military in power Egypt is worse than before. We should rethink the funds the EU promised to Egypt.'


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Barcelona EC to host important politicians and debates

The upcoming 188th LI Executive Committee (EC) meeting is now only two weeks away. With the registration concluded, prominent liberals from LI members and partners have confirmed their participation in Barcelona. Hosted by the Catalan Group of Liberal International the EC will focus on “Arab Spring, One Year On: Impacts and Perspectives”. The current situation in Egypt will be reviewed by prominent bloggers and democracy fighters. Syria's ongoing crisis will be discussed in the framework of LI's recent intervention at the UN Human Rights Council. A famous former political prisoner from Cuba will reflect on the global impact on the Arab Spring. The LI Human Rights Committee will also hold its session in the fringes of the LI Executive Committee under the theme Women as a Force For Change: the Arab Spring and Beyond. Prior to the EC meeting, a delegation of LI will attend the Conference on the Arab Spring co-organised by the governing party CDC and the ALDE Group. For more information about the programme please visit the LI website.

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