Statement on Gaza from Alison Thewliss MP

I support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and have publicly spoken out on this at the demonstrations in Glasgow and in Parliament. Hospitals, schools, and humanitarian workers must never be a target in conflict. I support the immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas following their brutal attack on the 7th of October. 

I have signed the following cross-party Early Day Motion in Parliament:

The SNP have led calls for a ceasefire, with First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP reiterating this view in recent days:

My SNP colleagues and I have tabled the following amendment to the King’s Speech, which will most likely be voted on in Parliament on today, Wednesday 15th November. 

Amendment (h): 

At end add ‘but respectfully regret that the Gracious Speech fails to include measures that would require the Government to uphold international law and protect all civilians in Israel and Palestine; unequivocally condemn the horrific killings by Hamas and the taking of hostages; reaffirm that there must be an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; call for the urgent release of all hostages and an end to the siege of Gaza to allow vital supplies of food, fuel, medicine and water to reach the civilian population; note the growing calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire from the United Nations and its aid agencies; and therefore call on the Government to join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire.’

Given the very grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, I was glad to see the Scottish Government has pledged £750,000 to UNRWA. This is an important commitment, but it only goes a small way to help those in need. There is a need for the international community to do more to commit to support those desperately in need, and also for routes to be established to allow that aid to get in to Gaza. It cannot be right that the Secretary General of the United Nations has had to go to the Rafah crossing and plead for aid trucks to be allowed in.

I fully support the investigation of all war crimes, and believe that those who have perpetrated such acts must be held to account.  

I am deeply concerned about the continued supply of arms to Israel. This happens in a context where the UK Parliamentary committee which is supposed to scrutinise this – the Joint Committee on Arms Export Controls –  has not met this year. I raised this on Tuesday during the Statement on Gaza:

My colleague Brendan O’Hara, the SNP’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson also raised wider concerns over the situation and called again for a ceasefire:

Alison Thewliss MP calls for justice for International Human Rights Day

To celebrate International Human Rights Day (Saturday 10th December), Alison Thewliss MP took part in Amnesty International’s largest annual letter writing campaign at a reception in Speakers’ House in Westminster Palace.

Alison Thewliss MP joined other Members of Parliament and staff and campaigners from Amnesty International to appeal to Iran to call for the immediate release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign.

Amnesty’s Write for Rights encourages people around the world to send personal messages of support to people behind bars, or whose lives are in serious danger.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“As a Member of Parliament, I know all too well the power of the pen, and the impact that can be achieved when many voices rally around one call. I am hoping that my message, and those of others sent during Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign, will send a clear message to governments that the world is watching and human rights must be respected.”

Former Al Jazeera foreign correspondent Sue Turton, who had been charged and tried in absentia in Egypt, after being falsely accused with eight of her colleagues of aiding and abetting the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke at the reception.

Sue Turton said: “Locking up a journalist who is asking too many questions can scare others into self-censorship clearing the way for further abuses to be committed with impunity.

“There has never been a greater need for balanced, well-researched journalism….But those of us who go into conflict and war zones need to know someone has our backs. That someone for (imprisoned Egyptian photographer) Shawkan is all of us.

Year after year Amnesty sees successes from its global letter-writing campaign. Last year thousands of people across the world wrote messages of support for Albert Woodfox – the longest-serving isolated prisoner. Albert had spent a staggering 43 years in solitary confinement. In February this year, after thousands of letters of support Albert was freed!”

For more information on Write for Rights visit:

MP in “certainty” plea to Government over Yemeni asylum seekers

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Scottish National Party MP, Alison Thewliss, today pressed the UK Government to provide “safety and certainty” and grant refugee status to asylum seekers from Yemen.

Taking part in an exchange with Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood, regarding breaches of humanitarian law in Yemen, the Glasgow Central MP said the Government was failing woefully to help provide certainty to Yemeni asylum seekers.

With most of the debate between MPs and the Minister focusing on British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Ms Thewliss seized on recent figures from the Home Office which show that in the second quarter of 2016 alone thirteen Yemenis were refused asylum in the UK and a further fifty-seven applications were still showing as pending. She called upon Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood, to help provide certainty to Yemeni asylum seekers.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It beggars belief that the Foreign Office are aware of the awful humanitarian crisis in the Yemen, yet the Home Office – in their characteristically obtuse manner – still have their heads in the sand.

The most recent Home Office statistics show that they’ve rejected asylum claims from thirteen Yemeni asylum seekers. Where exactly do they expect them to go if they don’t want to give them refugee status? Are they seriously suggesting they should return to Yemen which is quite literally a war zone?

“Equally as bad is the fact that the Home Office have kicked another fifty-seven asylum applications into the long grass with no decision. These people urgently need certainty; people are lying awake at night worrying whether they will be forced to return to a country suffering brutal conflict and severe humanitarian disaster.

“Ministers need to show some humanity and grant Yemeni citizens status in the UK, not leave them in fear of being returned to a war zone”.

International Human Rights Day

Today marks International Human Rights Day, and I joined my SNP colleagues to support the promotion of human rights across the globe. Closer to home, the Tories still intend to press ahead with their plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, which I will oppose at every opportunity. Human-Rights-Day