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Monday, 4 May 2009 - Strasbourg OJ edition

14. One-minute speeches on matters of political importance
Video of the speeches

  Neena Gill (PSE ). - Mr President, I rise to express my concern about thousands of innocent civilians who have been turned into refugees in their own homeland by the Taliban in the Swat Valley. We are all familiar with the stories about mistreatment of women by the Taliban. However, the news coming out of the valley in the last month reports closing of barbershops, banning of music and disabling of satellite television receivers. Also robbing of banks and looting of homes or women’s jewellery at gunpoint are common occurrences, especially of those that oppose or that stand up to the Taliban. The introduction of Sharia law in the Swat Valley has also resulted in all non-Muslims living in the valley having to pay jizya, an ancient form of tax, and I understand that the Sikhs living in the area were kidnapped or threatened until they agreed to pay. As the only Sikh MEP, I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are horrified as to what is happening in the Swat Valley – people who have lived there for 60 years are discriminated against in this way.

This Parliament has a proud history and record of fighting against these forms of violations of human rights and denouncing those that are exercising these intimidatory actions. However, we need to go beyond just statements and ask for concrete action from the Commission to make sure that we have a strategy as to how we address the Taliban and their rising influence in that region. Taliban are the real threat to all the values that we hold dear, human rights, equality and democracy. I urge you to write to the Commissioner to take some action.

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