VOTES NOT GOATS: Campaign for global democracy offers Afghans, Bangladeshis and Ghanaians chance to vote in UK elections

As Gorden comes back from seeing her Majesty, the Use a UK Vote campaign launching in Accra, Kabul and Dhaka is allowing Afghan, Bangladeshi and Ghanaian citizens to cast real votes in the upcoming British election.

Endorsed by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the Use A UK Vote campaign will facilitate a nationwide vote in these countries on April 30th by SMS and through an election hub in the capital. The votes will then be transferred to thousands of British citizens who are pledging to vote on their behalf.

The actor Keith Allen has already pledged to give his vote in his London constituency. Ready to use votes like Allen’s and others is Atique Chowdhary a coastal worker in Bangladesh, whose island was submerged because of rising sea-levels. Chowdhary says “I will be looking for the party that has the best plans for dealing with climate change refugees”.

The campaign aims to highlight the lack of democracy in global decisions by enfranchising people worldwide affected by UK government decisions on war, climate and trade.

Over the next month people will see live debates across Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana on the different British policies. Banners and murals being painted in the streets of Kabul and Accra and MPs taking questions from their new Bangladeshi constituents.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu endorses the ‘radical’ campaign linking it with his own experience of the anti-apartheid struggle “During apartheid, we did not fight for hand-outs, we fought for an equal voice and the power to make our own voices.”

James Sadri of Egality UK said “We celebrate our democracy in the UK, yet every day our government is making decisions which affect millions around the world who have no chance to respond. We have to think beyond borders when it comes to political solutions.

Agnes Agyepong, a local Egality coordinator in Accra said “Ghana is affected directly by decisions made by British politicians on international trade, where Ghanaian people are underrepresented. Ghana’s history of independence and strong democratic values means that it should be a nation championing equality and democracy on the global stage.”

Philip Ayambe, a sustainable farmer in Bolotanga said “Aid agencies have an agenda decided by somebody in London. They have no knowledge of the real situation. I will be using a UK vote because I would rather have a voice and be empowered to make chances than be pitied.”

“Democracy to me means being able to be a part of what is happening in my country. Who is making the decisions in Afghanistan, why can I not elect them?” added Reza Khateb, a youth worker in Kabul who will also be using a UK vote.

Fanny Rhodes-James, a UK citizen who will be giving her vote in the UK election said, “I’m giving my vote as an act of solidarity with people around the world affected by my government. I want them to know that people in the UK see them as equals. I’m not giving something away – I am making my vote more powerful.’

LSE and Fellow at the Centre for Globalisation and Regionalisation – Jan Aart Scholte said “Give Your Vote' challenges us to reinvent meaningful democracy for today's more global world. Let's give it a go."

The Use a UK Vote and Give Your Vote campaigns are being organised by the volunteer network Egality (www.egalitynow.org.)

ENDS
For more information call:

UK Press team:

+44 7768 553 982,
+44 7956 813 532,

press@egalitynow.org

Notes:

ENDORSEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU
"I have lived through apartheid in my country. In our struggle against injustice, we didn’t fight for hand-outs. We fought for an equal voice and for the power to make our own choices.

We are now facing a global apartheid, in which the richest dominate global decision-making, often to the detriment of the poorest.
Many of the problems we face in the world are interconnected. Pollution in one country becomes devastating floods in others, making millions homeless. A banking crisis in one corner of the world quickly engulfs us all. Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will impact cities far away, with repercussions that fracture our global community.

But who decides how we address these problems? Sidelined from the decisions are those who live on the frontlines of climate change, poverty and war.

We need to rethink our politics for today's world. We must strive for a global democracy, in which not only the rich and the powerful have a say, but which treats everyone, everywhere with dignity and respect.

I support Give Your Vote because it is exciting, brave and emphasises our common humanity. It is a radical call for a world where all human beings have an equal say in the politics that affect them."

GIVE YOUR VOTE DATES
UK Election Day will be held in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana on 30th April 2010
The General Election is on 6th May 2010

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