Left MEP speaks on Tunisia
Marie-Christine Vergiat, the United Left Group (GUE/NGL) Coordinator on the Subcommittee on Human Rights and a member of the Maghreb delegation of the European Parliament, addressed the EP plenary meeting in Strasbourg on the situation in Tunisia
It is with some pride and emotion that I rise today in this House to speak on behalf of my group, the European United Left / Nordic Green Left.
Indeed, not many of us in this chamber have denounced the excesses of the Tunisian regime and what it was doing to everyone and anyone who dared, against all odds, to criticize and denounce its practices that included torturing human rights defenders.
It took a young 26 year old man to set himself on fire for the Tunisian people to rise up, for the people of Tunisia not to feel alone in their struggles anymore, yes a hope of freedom is born.
But it took more than fifty deaths for the EU to venture a timid statement in which it called for restraint in the use of force without jeopardizing the sacrosanct EU-Tunisia partnership, and without condemning the violence until Saturday, Mr Füle. The least we can say is that you had hardly heard of the Tunisian regime since your appointment.
The expression "restraint in the use of force" was hard to swallow. Yet European authorities know how to be more vocal with other regimes.
As a French woman, I know what the responsibilities of the French authorities are because in my country, it was not until Saturday that the government condemned the violence, and I will not repeat the unacceptable remarks our Foreign Minister on this.
Obviously, for some, the colonial era is not yet over. But all this is history. Thanks to the courage of the Tunisian people, in a few days the "Tunisian miracle" so dear to some people here, collapsed and showed its true face.
Now our responsibility to follow the Tunisian people without interference in their democratic transition is great.
The European Union must follow the electoral process, and ensure the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened (the violence and corruption).
It is necessary that the Tunisian people are not tainted and that the property and assets of the Ben Ali and Trabelsi families are frozen throughout the EU.
In Tunisia, the EU has failed. A long road must now be travelled so that Tunisians regain trust. Today things are still difficult but new hope has emerged in Tunisia. It can serve as an example. We know that identical uprisings can take place in all countries where the "West" places its own interests before those of the people. Some have already set themselves on fire in Algeria , Egypt and Mauritania.
It is time to move from rhetoric to action on democracy and human rights. It is time to rebuild the EU's partnerships with the countries of the south and rebuild them on the basis of democracy, respect for human rights and equality.
If not, the EU will be paving the way for fundamentalists.