Within the context of the Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AAFD) toprepareArabpolitical trainers in communicating conceptsofliberalism, the alliance held the firsttrainingoftrainersinTunisia. The workshop wasattendedbyparticipantsfromLebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, JordanandTunisia. Training was held incollaborationwiththe Friedrich Naumann FoundationandtheDutchLiberal PartyandTunisianRepublicanParty. The trainers came fromEgyptand the Netherlands.

The Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AAFD) along with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and the Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) intends to hold three workshops for training of trainers. This follows from the belief of the AAFD, that building political cadres is one of the most important challenges for strengthening liberalism in the Arab world. The three workshops will be held in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, subsequent to which the best participants will be chosen to attend an advanced training to be held in the Netherlands in November 2013. The successful participants will have the chance to attend trainings and workshops of the AAFD.

Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AAFD) strongly condemns detention of two of the leaders of its member organizations. Alarming news suggested that Dr. Meyada Swar Al Dahab, chairwoman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Sudan and Mr. Ra'efBadway, founder of the Saudi Liberal Network have been both arrested and detained by authorities of their respective countries. 

These arrests prove that some Arab regimes still live in the past unaware of the changes that have taken place in the Arab conscience. These regimes sadly ignore the peaceful struggle of the Arab People for freedom and democracy, a struggle that has been dearly cultivated by blood of thousands of martyrs and freedom fighters. The people have spoken and their words were loud and clear, demanding their basic human rights, liberties, dignity and social justice.

We urge governments to take ample notice of the will of their people and deal with the new realities with openness and willingness to accept, in fact embrace, change and reform, as an opportunity to build a new future for their countries where the People are heard and where governments derive their power and strength from the legitimacy of their people's choice and free will. 

The Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy demands immediate release of all political detainees and those imprisoned as a result of voicing out their opinions or expressing their ideas. AAFD urges liberals and free men and women everywhere to stand in solidarity with those prosecuted because of their political ideals or expressed opinions. AAFD also reiterates its strong condemnation of the continued massacres committed by the Syrian regime against its own people and calls for an end to violence in Syria and the start of a new era where dialogue and peaceful democratic process will spare blood and lives of the people.

In reaction to the Israeli attack against Gaza-bound aid ships, the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) publishes the following statement:

NAL – representing liberal parties, organizations, and leaderships from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, the Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine – condemns the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla, which led to the killing and injuring of a great number of unarmed civilians in international waters in the high seas. It is indeed an act of piracy, violence, and state terrorism against civilians, whose only crime is seeking to provide medical supplies and food for the relief and assistance of other civilians, who have been under Israeli siege illegally for years in Gaza.

This Israeli assault also indicates the persistence of the continued disdain for the international laws, and the condescension of the international community. This behavior confirms the blind eye the international community turns to Israeli offensive practices; the use of double standards; the failure to take deterring punitive measures against Israel over many past incidents – most recently the Goldstone report on the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 ; act as a sort of implicit permission to Israel to pursue its violations of the international laws and legitimacy, and to disrespect the lives of others in a flagrant manner that hits human consciousness hard.

The Israeli practices are essentially in contradiction with liberal values and human rights, especially the right to life, the right to move, the right to peaceful association, the right to food, health, and education etc. The world today has reached a crossroads: either to stand by liberal values, justice, human rights, and the fair application of international law according to equal standards; or to defeat such values and principles, to give way to the law of blind force and to succumb to the chaos of life in the wilderness. This would ultimately make us live with entailing violence, terrorism, armed confrontations and bloody wars with millions of victims from amongst our sisters and brothers in humanity, and would take us and our civilization hundreds of years backwards.

NAL calls upon the world liberals and advocates of human rights to join ranks with the victims of the flotilla and the detainees in Israeli prisons, and to demand immediate release and reparation for all the victims. NAL calls upon the international community to take appropriate punitive measures against the aggressors, and to end the siege of the Gaza people immediately, as well as respect the right to life through the preservation of the lives of the civilians on all occasions even during armed conflicts.

Cairo, June 1. 2010


Arab-European Working Group on Migration Issues
Senior members of the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) convened in Rabat on March 26 and 27, 2010 for a conference titled "Parliaments in the Arab World. Chances and Challenges for Liberal Political Parties". The opening ceremony was held in the main hall of the Assembly of Councillors, the Upper House of the Moroccan Parliament.

It was the first time the Network held a session in an Arab parliament – and, consequently, more than one speaker highlighted the historic importance and the political symbolism of the event.

"I want to pay tribute and respect to the Arab Liberals", said Hans van Baalen, Member of the European Parliament and President of Liberal International, the world federation of liberal political parties.

"We need cooperation, together we can solve problems, alone we cannot", he said. On the sidelines of his visit to Rabat, van Baalen held political talks with the leaders of the Moroccan liberal parties. These constitute a formidable force in their country and also in parliament.

In his welcoming remarks, Mohamed Abied, the President of Union Constitutionnelle said that Morocco’s "modernization needs a strong liberal component". Mohaned Lanser, Minister in the Royal Government and Secretary General of the Mouvement Populaire, said that Moroccan liberals "are proud of the renaissance of liberal thought". He also said: "We are proud to see that this liberal family is extending to all Arab countries".

In their discussions on the chances and challenges of parliamentary politics in the Arab world, the delegates – most of them sitting or former members of parliament themselves – painted a bleak picture of the situation in their countries: There was a general consensus that most Arab governments do not concede the space that is needed for genuine political competition.

LI-President Hans Van Baalen and FNF’s Regional Director with Egyptian Delegates

This has lead to a diminished role of the opposition parties, thus, in turn, effectively eliminating the prerequisites for a peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party. In a programmatic paper, the delegates plead for a stronger role of parliaments in their respective countries as an independent power in a system of checks and balances; they demand transparent and representative elections and an end to the domination of political life by the ruling party. They also ask for a stronger role of women, the youth and minorities in the respective parliaments and uncensored access to the media, which remain under governmental control in many countries.

Human Rights for Migrants

While in Rabat, the Arab liberal politicians continued their dialogue on migration issues with a high level delegation of the European Liberal Democrat Reform Party (ELDR) led by their Vice President Marc Guerrero. This session followed a joint workshop last November in the European Parliament in Brussels where NAL and ELDR had set out to find common positions in the migration issue. The two sides now issued a joint statement in which they emphasize the importance of protecting the human rights of migrants and call upon the European states to balance between security considerations and issues of development. They also call on their governments to strengthen efforts to develop legal channels of migration and raise awareness among prospective immigrants regarding the economic, social and political situation in Europe.

Read the full text of the Joint Statement between the Network of Arab Liberals and the European Liberal Democratic Party on Migration

You may also view the speech by FNF’s Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus and other speeches held at the opening of the conference at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ_mG5KGewc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWA-LUj4MXs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pMXiKMxv8c