Human rights

When I reached the European Parliament it was obvious to me that being effective on human rights meant I needed to become really engaged with a small number of countries and issues. I began with Azerbaijan, where human rights defender Leyla Yunus was imprisoned and her life at risk.

Because it has oil the UK has turned a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s dreadful human rights record as I pointed out. I was one of the authors of a motion that was passed in September 2014.

I sponsored Leyla Yunus to win the Parliament’s human rights prize called the Sakharov Prize. After more campaigning she and her husband Arif were released – it was such a pleasure and relief to meet them:

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The main focus on my human rights effort is focused on Tibet, a country whose culture has suffered terribly at the hands of the occupying Chinese government. I am Vice-President of the Parliament’s Tibet Interest Group and recently I was the author of a resolution criticising China for its destruction of the Larung Gar Buddhist monastery.

I had the honour of meeting the Dalai Lama when he visited Brussels in September 2016:

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I’ve also defended the human rights of indigenous people and environmental activists in Central America and Brazil. I was one of the proposers of a resolution to protect the rights of the Guarani-Kaiowa people who live on the Brazil-Paraguay border.