Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Human Rights - March 2011

I write this column, sitting in my kitchen, watching the horror unfold in Libya.

Benghazi and Zintran are under attack by Gaddafi, the security forces are out in strength in the Yemen, Saudi troops are on the streets of Bahrain.

A revolution appears underway in the Middle East.  It is a pivotal and prodigious moment for the region and its people.

On Monday, MPs were asked to support the use of British troops and contribute to an international effort to protect civilians in Libya.

I supported that decision, but did not do so lightly.  Any decision that knowingly places our soldiers at risk, cannot be made without incredible soul-searching.

Some of you, I know, will be unhappy with the decision I made, fearing our intervention in Libya is another Iraq or Afghanistan.  This was not a vote for an invasion, but an attempt to help millions caught in the middle of a bloody revolution.

I believe in intervention to save lives, not to grab land, oil or wealth for ourselves.  I do believe that war can be just and that we were right to intervene in Kosovo and Sierra Leone to stop the mass murder of many of its people.

In a speech in 2009, Gordon Brown spoke of a ten-year-old Rwandan boy called David.  He was tortured to death.  His last words were, "Don't worry - the United Nations will come for us."  But we never did.

As we commemorate Armistice Day, we often say, "Never again!"  These words must stand for something, but it isn’t pacifism.

Human rights are universal; the world must not look the other way.

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