Tajikistan moves to restricting NGO access to funding

TAJIKISTAN MONITORCivil society and human rights groups are alarmed by the recent initiative of Tajikistan’s government to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance from foreign and international sources.  

Draft legislation to this end, which is currently under consideration by the government, runs counter to international standards protecting the right to freedom of association and risks endangering the work of NGOs in the country, the coalition reports. They call on Tajikistan’s government to drop the draft legislation and to respect the right of NGOs to have unhindered access to funding for their work, including from sources abroad. 

The World Movement for Democracy joined civil society organizations from Tajikistan and around the world to protest proposed amendments to Tajikistan’s Law on Public Associations:  

In a joint letter addressed to the government of Tajikistan, the signatories strongly urge the country’s authorities to respect the right of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to have unhindered access to funding for their work, including from sources abroad. The recent initiative to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance is currently under consideration by the government, and runs counter to international standards protecting the right to freedom of association and risks endangering the work of NGOs in the country.

Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, has stressed that restrictions on funding for NGOs are not permissible unless they are strictly necessary and proportionate to pursuing a legitimate aim, as required by article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As a party to the ICCPR, Tajikistan has an obligation to allow NGO access to funding, irrespective of whether it originates from domestic, foreign or international sources.

The draft legislation in Tajikistan follows a worrying trend among many countries of the former Soviet Union, in which governments are increasing efforts to control and restrict access to foreign funding of NGOs. The ability of civil society organizations to access funding and resources for their work is an integral and vital part of the right to freedom of association and assembly. Furthermore, NGOs in Tajikistan should be regarded as key partners in efforts to enhance citizen participation in decision making, as well as in promoting human rights and good governance. 

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Jailed Azerbaijani activist’s health deteriorating

AZERBAIJAN LEYLA YUNISA lawyer for jailed Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus says her health has deteriorated drastically, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reports:

Lawyer Elcin Qambarov told RFE/RL on November 24 that a detention center doctor who examined Yunus recently gave her a diagnosis of advanced liver disease and a high blood-sugar level….Yunus, 58, is a fierce critic of Azerbaijan’s poor rights record. Her husband, Arif Yunus, 59, was arrested in August, and they are being held in pretrial detention on charges of high treason and other crimes.

RTWT

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Empowering women is ‘smart economics’

zoellickThe empowerment of women is not only politically desirable, but “smart economics,” according to a leading authority.  

“Young girls should have the exact same opportunities that boys do to lead full and productive lives … the empowerment of women is smart economics,” says Robert Zoellick, formerly president of the World Bank and deputy secretary of the US State Department.

His comments came as he received an award from the Global Fairness Initiative which is given in recognition of  leading innovators and change-makers in the struggle to end global poverty and improve the livelihoods of the working poor. Zoellick was introduced at Washington’s historic Howard Theater by the Self Employed Women’s Association of India, a leading human and labor rights organization, and a partner of the US-based Solidarity Center indon Perempuan Kepala Keluarga

The award was also given to Nani Zulminarni (right), founder of Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (PEKKA), an Indonesian women’s empowerment group, and to Karl-Johan Persson, president and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz.  

A board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, Zoellick also served as trade representative in the US cabinet.

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Politics and media in Ukraine: an inside view

Evegeny KiselevSince the beginning of 2014, Ukraine has experienced a popular revolution to overthrow a corrupt leader, held presidential and parliamentary elections, and suffered an invasion by Russia. Yevgeny Kiselev, a leading journalist in Ukraine, will provide an overview of the situation there from his unique perspective. He will also share his observations on the media environment in Ukraine today and explain the challenges that journalists face as the country attempts to break with its Soviet past, while fending off a hostile neighbor.

Hosted by the International Forum for Democratic Studies and the Institute for European, Russia, and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University, featuring:

Evegeny Kiselev, Inter TV, Ukraine

with comments by

Nadia Diuk, National Endowment for Democracy

moderated by

Robert Orttung, George Washington University

introductory remarks by

Peter Rollberg, George Washington University

When and Where

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm. The George Washington University Elliott School for International Affairs Linder Family Commons, 1957 E St. NW, Room 602, Washington, D.C.

RSVP HERE

About the Speakers

Yevgeny Kiselev is a well-known and respected journalist. Originally from Russia, he gained popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s as one of the co-founders of NTV, then Russia’s only independent television news channel. Kiselev served as NTV’s last general director before Gazprom Media took it over in 2001. Under Putin, Kiselev was harassed by the government, forcing him to continue his journalistic career in Ukraine. Since 2008 Kiselev has been working in Kyiv, hosting several prime-time political shows on Inter, one of the most popular channels in Ukraine. He is also an active public speaker, columnist, and blogger, and contributes to a number of Ukrainian and Russian print media outlets. Kiselev is a recipient of many journalistic awards, including the prestigious International Press Freedom Award (1995) from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Nadia Diuk is Vice President, Programs for Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Robert Orttung is Assistant Director, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

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Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters face strategic choice

 

china hric_umbrellaHong Kong bailiffs on Tuesday cleared one block of a key protest site in Mongkok, as the territory steps up efforts to wind down the pro-democracy movement that has paralyzed parts of the city for the past two months, the FT reports:

Police arrested several protesters following a tense stand-off between members of the democracy movement and bailiffs who were trying to enforce a court order to clear one part of Argyle Street in Mongkok, a bustling shopping district in Kowloon.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are openly and self-consciously struggling to make a strategic choice, Jay Ulfelder notes on The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog:

Game theoretic models of social unrest often represent governments and oppositions as unitary actors engaged in a sequence of moves involving binary choices. At any given time, an opposition can keep playing by the rules or choose to protest. If the opposition chooses to protest, the government can respond by conceding to protesters’ demands or repressing them. If the government represses, protesters can respond by dissipating or escalating. Ditto for the government on its next turn, and so on until either one side wins decisively or a bargain is struck that lets everyone get back to “normal” politics.

That class of models can and has produced important insights into the absence, occurrence, and dynamics of social unrest. At the same time, those models deliberately bracket some of the most interesting and arguably important aspects of social unrest—that is, the politics occurring within those camps. ….RTWT

As Chris Buckley and Alan Wong describe in today’s New York Times, protesters in Hong Kong right now are struggling to make one of those strategic choices:

Having taken to the streets nearly two months ago to oppose election restrictions from Beijing, the protesters have become fractured by exhaustion, distrust and polarization over strategy.

“The moderates are still the majority, but Civic Passion and groups like them have a big influence on the Internet and among the youth,” said Lam Hong-ching, a Hong Kong media commentator who has written a history of political protest in the city. “I think there’ll be more and more conflict between the two sides.”

Human Rights in China has invited the people of Hong Kong who have experienced—participated in or observed—the Umbrella Movement to send short personal essays, poetry, journal entries, short video messages, or photographs.

The submissions will be posted in a special “Hong Kong: Voices of the People” section of its website.

A striking aspect of the movement—in addition to the clarity of the protest demands and the discipline and civility among the protesters—is the great display of creativity in visual and linguistic forms.

 

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