Baroness Jenny Tonge honoured for her stand on Palestinians

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Dr Manuel Hassassian presents Baroness Jennifer Louise Tonge with her award (Photo: AJV/Muslim News)

The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) hosted an award evening to honour Baroness Jenny Tonge’s standing up for justice and freedom for Palestinians.

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The event, which was held in central London on May 10, was organised in conjunction with Palestinian and Arab leaders and “supported by leading Muslim groups and civic organizations around the country,” said General Director of PRC, Majed Al Zeer. He said the award was for individuals “standing up for freedom and justice in British politics.” The award, titled Justice and Freedom Award, is a new project by the PRC.

Al Zeer spoke of his great admiration for Baroness Tonge. “In politics the first loyalty isn’t human rights and justice, but Baroness Tonge defies political norms and loyalties and speaks out against injustices in Africa, Palestine and wherever it may occur,” said Al Zeer.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, praising the Baroness, said, “Mere words cannot express the great debt we owe to Jenny and she, Clare Short and many other MPs are in the vanguard in championing Palestinian cause.” He added that people like the Baroness have “to keep on struggling” and “honouring them is like a drop in the ocean.”

The Ambassador said she has been “our inspiration and our mentor for Palestinian struggle.”

Former Secretary of State for Department for International Development, Clare Short, who has known Tonge for many years,, said she “loved and respected” her on her stand for principles in politics. “Those who don’t stand against injustice are forgotten. Jenny’s route is honourable and powerful,” she added.

Former MP Martin Linton said Tonge was playing “a very special role fighting for justice for Palestinians. She gives courage to the rest of the political world.”

Dr Ghada Karmi, who was born in Jerusalem and was forced with her family to leave her home when Israel was created in 1948, said she “always admired Jenny.” She condemned the action taken by Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, for forcing her to resign from the Lib Dem for criticising Israel. “I commend her and will support her in her long career in front of her.”

Baronees Tonge, receiving the first Justice and Freedom Award from Ambassador Hassassian, said she was “embarrassed” for receiving the award as there are many in Parliament who are fighting for the rights of the Palestinians. She said that she received a large number of letters from the US and France since her resignation. Tonge praised the Palestinian hunger strikers languishing in Israeli jails, many incarcerated without trial for years, and said “we have to campaign for them.”

The Baroness said she will “carry on doing what I’m doing and keep on asking questions [on Palestine] for the Foreign Office so that they are recorded in the Hansard.”

Later Tonge told The Muslim News that she was “surprised, feel humbled, delighted and a bit emotional” to have received the accolade and was “very grateful that they have gone to the trouble of thanking me. As far as I am concerned, I’m doing my job.” She added that she the award will make “me try even harder in the future” to campaign for Palestinian rights.

In February she resigned as a whip of the Lib Dem after refusing to apologise for saying Israel “is not going to be there forever on its present performance.”

Tonge defended her comments which she says were made “in protest at the treatment of Palestinians.”

Source Muslim News

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