My twittership with my dear friend Lesley from Ireland has been very productive, since she is such a freedom lover and a supporter of the Arab Spring. She always supported our cause with links, connections, tweets, and encouraging words. Lately she’s been in touch with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in her country, Ireland, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D. expressing her concern over situations in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. Mr. Gilmore responded to Lesley’s concerned letters with a letter of his own, and I asked her if we could obtain his permission to publish it. The answer was a positive one and here’s what the Irish Minister had to say about it all:
Ms. Lesley Shannon
26th October 2011
Our Ref: POL0110518
Dear Ms. Shannon,
Many thanks for your e-mail concerning the situation in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. The recent momentous changes across the Arab world show that the democratic will of the people can’t be permanently repressed and will eventually prevail. We have witnessed historic events in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and other regimes must clearly see that they must reform or stand aside. President Assad and his Government seem oblivious to the demands of the Syrian people for change and to the lessons of the “Arab Spring” elsewhere. It is unconscionable that the Syrian government has for some seven months calculatedly and systematically persecuted its own citizens peacefully demanding democratic freedoms. Despite the appeals of the international community, President Assad and his authorities have persisted in their violent repression, including firing at short-range into crowds of unarmed protestors and shelling Syrian towns. To date, these actions have resulted in the deaths of approximately 3,000 men, women and children. Thousands more have been detained and many of those have been appallingly tortured. As I stated when I addressed the UN General Assembly on 26 September, my basic message to President Assad is that no leader who refuses to listen to what his people are saying and to act on their clearly expressed desire for peace and reform can expect to remain in power.
With regards to the situation in Bahrain, I am very concerned at the human rights situation in Bahrain particularly the verdicts handed down to medics last months. I am concerned at both the lack of due process — for example, allegations of torture while the accused were in custody and the fact that these civilians were tried in military courts — and the severity of the sentences. The sentences also undermine prospects for much-needed national dialogue, reconciliation and reform in Bahrain. The Government has been pressing for an active response at EU level. I fully support the statement of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on 30 September which Ireland together with other EU partners encouraged as a response to these sentences. I have already requested our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, who is accredited to Bahrain, to make known our concerns directly to the Bahraini authorities and have strongly urged that none of those convicted on 29 September should be re-arrested, pending the appeal process which is now underway.
I welcome as a positive development the announcement on 5 October that the twenty medical professionals will now have their cases re-tried in a civilian court and hopefully under circumstances which will allow proper due process to be followed. In the meantime, the Government will continue to monitor closely the situation and convey its concerns in the fullest terms to the Bahraini authorities, through our Embassy in Riyadh and through EU and other appropriate channels.
With regard to Yemen, I support the Gulf Cooperation Council’s initiative, which would see President Saleh step down and a formal transition of power launched. The EU has repeatedly called on President Saleh to immediately sign and implement the GCC agreement without preconditions. I am also deeply concerned that the worsening political, security and economic situation has also led to a deteriorating humanitarian situation placing the vulnerable civilian population further at risk.
I will continue to raise our concerns about situations where the civilian population is being repressed with our partners and in international fora.
With kind regards,
Eamon Gilmore T.D.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Within these couple of links you'll find the original copy of the letter presented in this blog:
I just want to take this opportunity to thank Lesley for her support and efforts. And I would like to thank Mr. Gilmore for being kind enough to respond, for allowing us to publish the letter, and of course for his positive and reassuring words and efforts.