Statewatch News Online: Tony Bunyan's speech at the Liberty Human Rights Awards ceremony for 2011

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Tony Bunyan's speech at the Liberty Human Rights Awards ceremony for 2011

"Thank you Liberty very much for giving us this Award. It has indeed been a "long walk" since Statewatch was setup in 1991. What we have achieved would not have been possible without the Statewatch team and our supporters.

After 11 September 2001 we were told by the EU institutions that exceptional - time limited - measures were needed. What we know now is that the exceptional has become the norm and that the exceptional has come to define the norm.

We are now told too that "security" - as defined by the EU state - has been "balanced" with liberties and freedoms when many who can see what has happened know that security has won out nearly every time.

Has security and liberties been "balanced"?

Tell that to those suspected of terrorism who have been rendered, imprisoned and tortured. Tell that to the refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing from poverty and persecution. Tell that to the Muslim and migrant communities who have been placed under surveillance. And tell that to the cross-border protesters who have been subjected to preventative arrest, kettling and the dispensing of justice on the streets.

In Europe we are facing very dangerous times. We have seen the shift from multiculturalism to monoculturalism which has been accompanied by nationalists, racists and fascists moving into the corridors of power, into parliaments and governments.

We have seen too a major shift to the right in the political spectrum. Where in the 1990s - when there were 15 EU member states - there were 12 broadly social-democratic governments and three on the right there are now 20 on the centre or far-right. And now we have seen two governments being replaced by technocratic rule, put in place by the markets and the EU political elite.

I have always believed that the struggle for liberties and rights cannot be separated from the wider democratic political culture. Democracy does not belong to political parties and parliaments - as they would have us believe - democracy belongs to the people.

We need a democratic culture of diversity, informed debate, dissent, tolerance, respect for all cultures, a sense of history and above all an underlying humanity.

In short to defend and extend civil liberties we need to reclaim democracy.

Thank you"


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