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The fight for democracy is never over - a message from POWER2010 on International Human Rights Day

On this International Human Rights Day, I want to tell you about George, a refugee from Zimbabwe. His tale is a constant reminder that human rights are a shared responsibility, for everyone.
Pam Giddy
10 December 2009

On this International Human Rights Day, I want to tell you about George, a refugee from Zimbabwe. His tale is a constant reminder that human rights are a shared responsibility, for everyone.

George had a normal life back in Zimbabwe, with a job, a wife, and four children, but he couldn't stand idle as Robert Mugabe drove his once great country into ruin, and so he campaigned for the opposition party during the 2000 election. The results are best described in George’s own words:

"The election was rigged so that Mugabe won. During the campaign, I had witnessed countless atrocities being committed by the authorities - they came after my friends and other members of the opposition. When I realised that Mugabe's thugs were after me, too, I had to flee Zimbabwe, so my family and I came to the UK."
George and his family are now safe from Mugabe, but their lives have been turned upside down and they can never go home - all because he tried to stand up to his country's government. His story is a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a real democracy. 

But like George, we can’t stand idle. 

Click here to stand up for our rights here in the UK - the right to protest, the right to privacy, the right to free speech

In Britain we have the privilege of dissent. We can raise our voice comfortable in the knowledge that our families are safe from government reprisal.  But we have also lost many of the rights and freedoms we once took for granted. 

"My children are bright and talented, but I fear their future is doomed. For now, a decent life where my family can build a future remains a distant dream, as elusive as when we first fled the violence in Zimbabwe.

“You, in Britain, don’t understand what you have.  You don’t understand what you are losing.”

It's because of stories like George's that POWER2010 and I are working to protect our rights and renew our democracy here in the UK. On International Human Rights Day we need to remember that every right we allow our government to take from us invites another - and to truly protect our freedoms we need to change our politics. Sign the declaration and join me in celebrating our democracy:

 

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

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