Page 3972 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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similar forums, obviously to give other young women the opportunity that they have had.

I enjoyed meeting with these young women, who included young women from both the ACT and Norfolk Island. The successful commonwealth’s nominee was a young woman who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Sudan in 2005 after spending many years in the refugee camps and experiencing considerable trauma. Now an Australian citizen and studying at university, she strongly contributed throughout the forum with the other nine young women.

I would like to thank my fellow members of the CWP steering committee and the other politicians and guest speakers who gave their time and those who organised and facilitated the forum. I look forward to the next opportunity to be involved in a similar forum in the future.

Belarus—freedom and democracy

MR COE (Ginninderra) (6.01): I rise today to add my voice to the many thousands of people around the world who are calling for democracy and freedom in Belarus. Today, 25 August, marks 20 years since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union. However, in 1994 Alexander Lukashenko became president; since then, democracy and freedom in the nation have slipped and Belarusians do not enjoy the liberties of other Europeans. Belarus is referred to as the last dictatorship in Europe and is without doubt the most closed and least democratic in Europe.

The International Young Democrat Union, of which I am deputy chairman, have been involved in the coordination of a number of demonstrations of support for democracy in Belarus. With efforts in the UK, Sweden and elsewhere, we are hopeful that we will be able to contribute to the growing momentum for change in the eastern European state.

I also encourage all those on Twitter who support the call for freedom and democracy in Belarus to use “#Belarus” and “#August25” to add your tweets to what I hope will be a trending topic around the world.

A few months ago, on 12 March, the IYDU called for the following: that the Belarusian authorities immediately release all political detainees; that the Belarusian authorities respect human rights, democratic standards and the rule of law; that the members of the IYDU call for a visa ban on representatives of the Belarusian regime in their respective countries; that the members of the IYDU demand their countries to remove visa fees for Belarusian youngsters and students; that the members of the IYDU demand their countries to support students that are expelled for political reasons; and that the members of the IYDU support political opposition, independent media and other democratic structures within Belarus.

The IYDU supports freedom and democracy in Belarus and in particular supports the pro-freedom youth movements in Belarus that are courageously campaigning for freedom in the country. I would like to commend Daniel Walter, Christian Holm, James Marriott and the many others in the IYDU for the selfless service they give towards advancing freedom in Europe and around the world.

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