May 20, 2016

UNPO Mourns Death of Marco Pannella, Historical Figure of the Radical Party

Photo courtesy of Mihai Romanciuc.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and its General-Secretary mourn the loss of Marco Pannella, founder and leader for many years of the Transnational Radical Party. In addition to being a renowned politician and civil rights activist, Mr Pannella was also, since the early 2000s, an avid supporter of UNPO and of the struggle of many of its members.


Leader and founder of the Italian Radical Party – later transformed into the Transnational Radical Party –, Italian politician and civil rights activist Marco Pannella died yesterday at the age of 86. In the last two months, his health conditions had worsened due to a liver and lung cancer.

After graduating in law and joining the liberal youth for a short time, Mr Pannella established the Radical Party in 1956 together with other colleagues and became its Secretary in 1963. He served various times as Member of Parliament between 1976 and 1992 and was elected four times at the European Parliament between 1979 and 2004. Marco Pannella has always had an important place in Italian political and societal life, campaigning for the legalisation of divorce, abortion, soft drugs and euthanasia. He was a strong supporter of referendum as a tool to empower people and also promoted civil disobedience. For instance, he engaged in various hunger strikes, the last one at the age of 81 to protest overcrowding in Italian prisons.

Marco Pannella was a fervent antimilitarist and his struggles were based on the principle of non-violence, inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy.

The figure of Mr Pannella is also well known outside Italy. When the Italian Radical party transformed into the Transnational Radical Party in 1989, its activities adopted an international dimension. Mr Pannella and his party engaged in battles against death penalty and female genital mutilation among others, and advocated for the rights of minorities such as the Tibetans, the Uyghurs, the Degar Montagnards and the Chechens. He was also a convinced supporter of European federalism, calling for a larger and more integrated European Union.

In the early 2000s, Mr Pannella took an interest in the UNPO and supported the renewal of its structure and goals, in what were difficult years for the organisation. Since then, the Radical Party has worked alongside UNPO in various activities and campaigns, for instance by supporting EP resolutions raising concern over the treatment of minorities in Ethiopia or of the Baloch and Ahwazi in Iran, organising EP conferences on the human rights situation in South-East Asia and in Iraq, signing an EP parliamentary questions on cultural genocide in China, writing a letter to the World Health Organization asking to allow Taiwan’s participation in its activities or organising a field trip to South-East Asia to discuss the situation of minorities.

Thanks to Mr Pannella’s support, UNPO’s 2010 General Assembly was hosted at the Italian Senate in Rome and proved a great success that many of UNPO’s Members remember with joy.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization and its General Secretary Marino Busdachin in particular, mourn Mr Pannella’s recent passing. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. His campaigns for civil and human rights have transformed his country and the world into a better place and UNPO hopes his struggles will serve as a model to future generations.