What fuelled them, and why did they continue after the government rolled back the decree that motivated them in the first place?
Movement Against Intolerance
There are two key aspects here: first, the dynamics were not only about corruption, but also about the type of power that is deployed along with it. Second, the word we live in is being fundamentally transformed by technology, which is creating societal needs that cannot be catered for by current organisational models.
This poses fundamental challenges to the way in which our societies are organised. Whether we talk about civil society, political or business organisations, those changes are taking us towards a new world that exposes new ways of being and living. Protests have continued for a good reason, as recent laws passed by the Romanian parliament, including new regulations on civil society organisations CSOs , and emergency decrees issued by the Romanian government, have indicated that public institutions are being used to dismantle democracy and limit the space for civil society.
Therefore, the aim is not corruption; corruption is just the means. The true aim is to hold control over society, and gaining discretionary power over resources is necessary in that regard.
- Tending to her Toes (Office Femdom Foot Worship and Footjob, Female POV).
- Neofascismo en España - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre.
- Transitional Justice for Child Soldiers: Accountability and Social Reconstruction in Post-Conflict Contexts (Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies)!
- Soldaten unterm Spaten - Ein Abenteuer wider Willen (German Edition).
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- Latin American Network Information Center.
Would you say a full-fledged anti-corruption movement has emerged from the protests? Established CSOs have played a role in the protests, but up to now it has been a marginal one. Their ability to mobilise citizens, or even to coordinate amongst themselves, has remained alarmingly low. While some connections have been established with like-minded mobilisations in other parts of the world, these have taken place mostly at an inspirational level, and for very few of those involved.
Citizen reactions, on the other hand, are now far from the strength that they had at the beginning of This is a crucial moment for Romanian democracy. If citizens are able to recognise what is going on and they mobilise, they will be able to protect their rights and re-establish a democratic system. Established in , FHRI is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and not-for-profit human rights organisation seeking to remove impediments to democratic development and the meaningful enjoyment of fundamental freedoms through research, monitoring, legislative advocacy, strategic partnerships and the dissemination of information and best practices through training and education.
In the past few years, the incumbent government has demonstrated its resolve to hold on to power at all cost. In this quest to hold to power, ideals of democracy have increasingly been under threat. President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for over 30 years and has been declared triumphant in the six presidential elections that have been conducted since the Constitution was promulgated, amidst widespread discontent with electoral laws. Elections by themselves are not a symbol of democracy, particularly if electoral laws are not able to translate the will of the people into true democratic choice.
A recently introduced and very unpopular proposal to amend the Constitution to remove age restrictions on the presidency, and the brutal force employed by state security forces against dissenters, also illustrate the state of democratic decay of Uganda. Civil society organisations CSOs that have criticised the proposal to amend the Constitution have had their accounts frozen and some have been threatened with closure.
The government has resorted to draconian laws such as the Public Management Order Act , which prohibits public gatherings without the approval of the Inspector General of Police, to prevent public gatherings and demonstrations against the proposed constitutional amendments. Over the past few years, Uganda has also witnessed an escalation in the harassment and unlawful detention of political opponents of the government and political and human rights activists.
CSOs working in the area of service delivery continue to operate without any notable hindrances from the government, while those working on land rights, democracy, governance, anti-corruption and transparency continue to face an uphill task. The Act creates an obligation for CSOs not to engage in any act that is prejudicial to the security and laws of Uganda and that is not in the interest of Ugandans. Any CSO that engages in such loosely defined acts is liable to deregistration. Augmented by the Public Order Management Act, the Non-Government Organisation Act further restricts civic space - the space for civil society - for CSOs working in the areas of democracy, good governance, anti-corruption and transparency.
This has come during a period of increasing impunity of state officials and when the government has embarked on unpopular constitutional amendments. CSOs, especially those engaged in the fields of democracy and governance, are perceived by the government as political and partisan, and as agents of western governments, since their roles include monitoring government policies and actions and holding government officials accountable to the public. In October , the police raided a number of CSO offices and seized their computers and documents.
The police claimed that they were investigating allegations of money laundering. Thus CSOs in Uganda continue to struggle to contribute to democratic governance in a very hostile environment shaped by a draconian regulatory framework and systematic practices of intimidation and self-censorship.
The increasing popularity of CSOs among the populace, more so in a time of political upheaval when Ugandans need a sense of direction and strong leadership, lays a fertile ground for antagonism between the government on one hand, and CSOs and the citizenry on the other.
This bill seeks to allow the incumbent President Museveni to run for additional terms in office. Coincidentally, the police raided the offices of ActionAid and the Great Lakes Initiative for Strategic Studies in Kampala, and Solidarity Uganda in the Northern city of Lira, on 21 September , as part of its campaign to clamp down on CSOs that, in their opinion, are working against the removal of the age limit. As a result of the recent wave of government intimidations and restrictive legal framework, CSOs are operating in a very uncertain environment.
To continue working in this hostile environment, some CSOs have resorted to self-censorship, in order to avoid deregistration. This, however, poses the risk of these CSOs becoming irrelevant, as they are not engaging with the issues that concern the citizenry the most. The other challenge is that, in an environment in which the observance of fundamental freedoms is increasingly neglected by the government, restrictions imposed on the exercise of fundamental rights are likely to carry on unabated. The police has continued to use the Police Act and the Public Order Management Order Act to stifle the freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression and association, and to arrest and detain persons unlawfully.
This power has been misused to arrest human rights activists and political opponents arbitrarily and to prevent political activities and demonstrations from taking place. Spontaneous meetings are exempted from the notice. However, the police has repeatedly dispersed spontaneous meetings, prevented meetings arranged by opposition parties, CSOs and political activists, and arrested demonstrators.
In sum, the government continues to employ bully tactics to harass dissenters. CSOs, opposition political activists and journalists are the main victims of these attacks. Uganda is at a crossroads. The quest by the incumbent to hold on to power poses a risk to the relative peace the country has witnessed over the past 30 years and renders the country vulnerable to a return to the old unviable struggles for political power.
The determination to hold on to power at all costs has coincided with an increase in state abuses of fundamental rights. It is within this environment that CSOs in Uganda operate. To fill the void in the promotion and protection of human rights, and to provide a sense of direction and leadership to the populace, CSOs must situate their work within the current political and human rights context.
Thus, technical and financial support from international civil society to CSOs in Uganda will be crucial in steering Uganda towards democratic governance. International partners may also lobby the Ugandan government on issues of good governance and human rights as another method of exerting influence. International CSOs could also create a fund for protecting and evacuating human rights defenders in emergency cases.
Most importantly, international CSOs have a role in supporting local CSOs in their work to build civic competences among the citizenry as well as to safeguard fundamental rights. It is for CSOs to step in and fill this void. This task would be impossible to achieve without the support of international partners. Estos cambios se fueron dando tanto a nivel nacional como en varias provincias. Sin embargo, esto es desmentido por diversos indicadores. Este es un argumento interesante, porque parte de datos ciertos.
De acuerdo con la Encuesta sobre Trabajo No Remunerado y Uso del Tiempo , en la Argentina las mujeres dedican el doble de tiempo que los varones a las tareas de cuidado. Por eso es importante no retroceder en los avances que se han logrado y responder a los argumentos falaces con que se trata de detener el proceso. Sin embargo, las estructuras partidarias siguen siendo en general poco abiertas a las mujeres.
De modo que el presidente fue reelecto dos veces, en y en Necesitamos, entonces, solidaridad internacional. From outside Uzbekistan, it appears that socio-political reforms are underway, at least to some extent. How real have reforms been, and what are the limitations? There is no real socio-political reform; most of what you hear about this is noise and government propaganda.
There are very few changes. I would characterise what is happening rather as the elimination of the worst excesses and restrictions committed under the late President Islam Karimov. This is mainly happening in the economic sphere and in establishing relations with neighbouring countries, as under Karimov relations were very bad. For example, current President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who was Prime Minister under Karimov for 13 years, was able to establish relations with neighbouring Tajikistan and both countries abolished the visa regime and set up transport and air services, for the first time in around 20 years.
But there have been almost no institutional changes. All reforms are half-hearted and almost none are fully implemented. President Mirziyoyev does not bring many reforms to an end. But all the state-controlled media makes noise about the so-called great reforms, and this noise, unfortunately, is picked up by foreign media that do not understand what is happening here. There are some achievements. Recently, a tax reform was carried out, which most economists evaluated as a positive change.
The forced mobilisation of the population during the annual cotton harvest campaign has been partially abolished. The ban on photography has been lifted, and it is now possible to take photographs on the metro, for example, when earlier this would have led to the photographer being immediately detained and dragged to the police. Things have become less paranoid than under Karimov, which was a reflection of his psychopathic personality. The atmosphere in the country has improved; it has become a little easier to breathe.
In addition, the government has begun to change the way its reacts to publications in the press. Now there is some kind of response to 10 to 20 per cent of critical messages. The country's leadership shows signs that it understands criticisms, and there are examples of it abolishing unpopular decisions, dismissing officials and governors who are at fault, and attempting somehow to improve the situation. Under Karimov nothing like this happened. Almost all political prisoners, around 20 people, have been released. But none of them have been rehabilitated, and none of their investigators, who tortured them and fabricated criminal cases, have been punished.
So this positive move has not been brought to its logical conclusion. And still the law does not ensure the rights of private property. A house, a shop, an enterprise of any kind can be demolished immediately, in order to build something else, while the compensation given is scanty or non-existent. And no one could do anything. Investors see this and are not in a hurry to invest their money in Uzbekistan. Also take, for example, the loud noise that was made about the introduction of currency exchange.
Under Karimov this was not officially allowed, but the entire population was quietly changing money with street currency traders. At any moment it was possible to buy and sell any currency from traders, while banks did not buy currency. Under Mirziyoyev, the police dispersed all street currency traders, and banks were ordered to buy dollars. But banks do not sell dollars, and there are no currency exchange points. So where do we buy dollars now? No one knows. So the reform made things worse than before. But the press loyal to the authorities screams that currency reform has taken place in Uzbekistan, and now the authorities are moving away from discussing the topic.
There are many such reforms that have begun but have not been brought to a logical conclusion. They touch upon the most basic moments of life in Uzbekistan. It should be emphasised that Karimov created a tough authoritarian system for our new authorities, which they consider to be convenient for themselves. All changes and reforms are going to be carried out strictly within its framework, without affecting its foundations. There is no question of complete freedom of speech, fair elections and an independent judiciary.
At the same time, representatives of the new government have redistributed beneficial ownership in their favour, taking control, for example, over the vast majority of imports entering the country, wholesale trade and, of course, the sphere of exports and construction. There is still no question of protecting basic civil liberties.
There is no one to protect them. Often, even such thoughts do not arise. The population is apathetic, uneducated and cowardly. There is practically no one to rely on. For the people to mature, you need at least a few decades. And then it will be possible to speak only about the next generations. What have been the driving forces and motivations behind the limited changes you have seen so far? When everyone reads, for example, that in some underdeveloped countries the average salary has become higher than in Uzbekistan, people begin to resent it.
And representatives of government and their relatives are also constantly on the internet and discuss all this. They feel the growth of dissatisfaction in some directions, and, if this does not contradict their own careers and selfish interests, try to somehow reduce discontent and solve some problems. In this respect, Mirziyoyev is much better than Karimov, who did not use the internet and, accordingly, did not care. The influence of the media and social networks is great, and therefore they are an important catalyst for change. But it must be understood that at the same time, Islamist fanatics are creating their own information field, and its strength and influence also grows.
There is a tension because Uzbekistan is religiously and culturally part of the Islamic world, but is also secular, and has many supporters of European values and the European way of development. It has become easier to work with the media, which has become bolder and begun to issue a whole stream of news. Over the last two years this is a major move. But still they dare not criticise the president, prime minister and their entourage.
If they do, they may be deregistered or closed, or staff may be fired. There are only two independent sites that provide critical commentary on Uzbekistan: my site, AsiaTerra. Otherwise, there is little analysis of the type that would be considered normal elsewhere. Fuller freedom is appearing in social networks. Just two years ago the authors of anti-government statements, or simply those that were critical, would have been summoned to the police and threatened with a criminal case. And now many people write what they want, and nobody pursues them. But this is not because the laws have changed.
The laws are still the same. It's just that the new president has allowed people to express their opinions more freely. However, if he leaves his post and another person takes it, everything can immediately become as it was, because no irreversible changes have occurred. But while the trend is positive, gradually people can get used to greater freedom of expression, and this is important in itself. But there is almost no independent civil society in Uzbekistan.
There are only a few hundred people who are active on Facebook, and about a third of them live abroad. Any attempt to hold a protest on an important occasion will attract at best a handful of people. There are also many religious fanatics who, due to the fact that Karimov pursued them for many years, prefer to sit quietly and not show themselves. But when a prominent Islamic figure died a couple of years ago, about 80, people turned out for his funeral.
The authorities did not expect such an influx and were very frightened, although everything ended peacefully. If voters were given the opportunity to vote in absolutely honest elections, there is a danger that a populist using religious slogans would come to power. Uzbekistan, over the long term, needs an enlightened and adequate leader who can lead the country along the path of progress, even if a large part of the population does not want it.
What are the key challenges for civil society in the current context, and how might they be addressed? For those few hundred socially active people, perhaps the most basic difficulty at the moment is that the authorities do not notice them and do not seek to make any contact. Officials are afraid of being accused of disloyalty, so they are afraid to talk with civil society activists, and even mention their names. There is no interaction with the authorities, through the fault of the officials. The world outlook of people needs to change. In Soviet times, despite all the excesses, there was some general progress.
Women gained rights. The power of the Islamic clergy was limited. All children were sent to schools, taught to read and write, and given some knowledge about the world. Particularly rapid development took place during the last decades of the Soviet Union. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union there was powerful pullback. Perhaps the ubiquitous spread of the internet will help spread knowledge and information, and enlightenment in general. But, given the current speed of these changes, I think it would take years.
Most of the population does not read anything and does not want to read, except for simple correspondence in social networks. What can the international community and international civil society do to support favourable conditions for civil society in Uzbekistan? There are three key things. The first is to give financial support to independent media and active human rights groups. The second is to prosecute thoroughly the criminal representatives of the regime who are in the West, bring criminal cases against them, demand that their bank accounts be blocked and their property confiscated - in general, not to leave them alone for a minute.
And third, in no way to demonstrate their loyalty to Uzbek religious extremists entrenched in the West. These are the main enemies of democracy and human rights. Support of the media and active human rights groups is important. If some outside agencies have the opportunity to give financial support to independent media in Uzbekistan and similar countries, it would be desirable to do so. A free media in attitudes and expose torture, the exploitation of people and corruption.
Both those and others, as a rule, stand for democracy and liberal values. But getting this support because of bureaucratic obstacles, including from donors, is very difficult. Get in touch w ith Aleksey via his website or his Facebook page. CIVICUS speaks to Elina Leinonen, Communications Officer for the Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability, a Finnish civil society organisation CSO aimed at finding individual solutions through the development and provision of high-quality services to support people with intellectual disabilities or special support needs and their families.
Elina was also the communications lead for the Not-for-Sale campaign, which used a citizen initiative to promote the rights of people with disabilities in Finland. See also our interview with Ivana Bacik , Irish Senator and campaigner for abortion rights. The vote in favour of repealing the eighth amendment of the Irish Constitution exceeded 66 per cent.
Did you see it coming? We had lots of surprises — we certainly never saw 66 per cent coming. We thought it would be hard win, slightly over 50, 55 per cent at the most. We also thought that the people who were not really engaged would just stay home and not make what they surely considered a tough choice. But with close to 70 per cent, turnout was the third highest ever for a referendum. It is really tough, and while we won, it was a hard win, as people had to expose themselves and their stories. It was also expensive.
But it was the only way to do this, as the amendment was in the Constitution. What was the state of public opinion when the process started? It is not easy to put a date to the beginning of the process. For my organisation, the Abortion Rights Campaign, it began in We started work in reaction to two major incidents around abortion rights that took place in Ireland in The protests that took place in reaction to this campaign were the biggest pro-choice demonstrations in a long time.
This time, we were also organising online, on Facebook and Twitter, and this made it easier to get information out, so the protests were quite large. The first March for Choice , held in September , gathered a couple of thousand people, which was no small feat at the time. It was the biggest in about a decade.
A month later, Savita Halappanavar died. Savita was pregnant and died because she was refused an abortion. She had been told she was going to have a miscarriage and there was a risk of infection but, according to the law, doctors were not allowed to intervene until her life was at imminent risk. This was a real wake-up call and put us under the global spotlight. Soon afterwards, in January , the Abortion Rights Campaign began its work. But none of this happened out of the blue; it was the result of decades of activism. And of course, the Abortion Rights Campaign was just one among many groups rallying for repeal.
From then on, the Marches for Choice got bigger and bigger every year and at some point, we figured out that we had to call a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and push for political change. How did you manage to shift public opinion towards repeal? A little under 40 per cent were in favour of allowing women to access abortion as they choose, while about 40 per cent were in favour of allowing it only under very restrictive circumstances.
Going in, we estimated we were looking at a maximum of 45 per cent of support. So we started with a strong, solid base of plus per cent, and we knew the other side had a solid 10 to 20 per cent. There were lots of people, another 40 per cent, who were in doubt, unsure of where they stood. These were the people who could tip the scale, so we had to go talk to them.
But we knew that when people get the facts, when they get to listen to the evidence, they tend to come to a more pro-choice position. We saw this time and again and knew it was just a matter of letting people have these conversations. We knew there was a big swathe of people that needed to be persuaded one way or the other, so this was a big part of our strategy: to encourage conversation and bring the tools so they could take place. As activism grew and marches got bigger, we figured out a couple of things.
One was that there was an increasing sentiment for change: no matter how you felt about abortion, there was a growing sense that the status quo was not helping women. Our abortion policies had drawn criticism from international human rights bodies. So we decided to make abortion a red-line issue in the general elections — that is, a key issue that politicians would be asked about daily as they knocked on our doors to ask for our votes. And we gave people the language to talk to their politicians about the issue.
We knew that if they encountered the issue once and again when they were canvassing, they would pay attention. We did this in a number of ways: we had civic engagement training sessions where we would give people information about how referendums work, how the law works, what it says about the issue, what we can do and what our position regarding free, safe and legal abortion is. And it worked! We succeeded in forcing the issue into the agenda. So we worked very hard to set up regional groups in every county around Ireland.
By the time the referendum came, there was a pro-choice group in every county. And those groups went on to form canvassing groups that would hold their own events and talk to their politicians. What role did the media play in the process? How did you work with both traditional and social media? From my perspective, a key takeaway from the process is that it is vital to use social media to create a space so people can have a nuanced discussion about these issues.
As a result, any broadcaster that receives state funding must allocate equal airtime to both sides. So, if you talk on TV about how you had an abortion, or you say you are pro-choice, the opposite view has to be given space as well. And the rule was interpreted very broadly, so it applied not just during the referendum campaign but also for years before that. It was very stifling. You normally look to the media to educate yourself on an issue, but it is not educational to constantly pitch ideas against each other, especially on an issue as complex and nuanced as abortion can be.
So we had to bypass the mainstream media to get to the people. Fortunately, we exist in the time of social media, and we put a lot of effort into it and gave people the language and the nuance to talk about these things. We were used to hearing discussions about the morality of abortion where it was either right or wrong: there was no middle ground for people who were not that comfortable with it but thought the status quo was bad, and there was no room to talk about it.
Rather we wanted to give people the language to talk about it, allowing them to ask more questions, to find out what they were ready to accept and how far they were ready to go. This really worked. There has been so much discussion about the dark web, bots, trolls and possible interference with the campaign — but there were hundreds of pro-choice Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles set by hundreds of pro-choice individuals, and we had tools to protect the space we had created where these discussions were taking place.
For instance, a group of volunteers created Repeal Shield, which was basically a public list of bots and troll accounts. As a result, people could keep having a conversation without interference. One big takeaway from this is that people have power. We got 66 per cent of the vote. That was not an echo chamber. That was reality. Traditional media and politicians were slower to catch up to this, so we carved our own way.
I am not saying this is the way to go for every activist group around the world. For one, Ireland has very good internet coverage, most people have access to it, and we have high user rates of Twitter and Instagram. This is not the case everywhere. But we used the tools we had, and it worked for us. We would talk to people and they would bring the issue to their doorsteps.
The Abortion Rights Campaign is a grassroots organisation, and what we did best was give people those tools so that they could then use them themselves. For years we had stalls every second week so people would come, have a chat, get information, take a leaflet.
We had monthly meetings so people would learn about the organisation and how they could join, and sometimes we had somebody bring in a different perspective, such as a migrant or somebody from Direct Provision, a terrible institution for asylum seekers. We also developed training activities for marginalised groups about abortion in a wider reproductive context. Other groups would lobby politicians. We are now probably going to do so, but at the time the grassroots campaign was our main concern. We also did advocacy at both the national and international levels, including submissions to various United Nations bodies.
And we maintained links with Irish groups in other countries, because the Irish diaspora is very focused on this issue. An awful lot of the charity organisations in Ireland would have a nun or a priest on their board, so they would not take a stand on this issue. But a lot did, and we got a lot of support.
More than a hundred organisations eventually signed up. And of course, we sold t-shirts, repeal jumpers, so we gave people visibility. People became visibly pro-choice. You knew somebody was on your side when you saw them. You felt supported on a decision that maybe once you took and never told anybody about.
Now you knew there was a visible crowd of people who supported you. A lot of it was about the moralities of abortion. But there were also lots of arguments that were brought in that were disprovable, greatly exaggerated, or not responding to the reality of what people were going through. Abortion is a contentious issue and there are indeed conversations to be had around disabilities and the like. And may be true in certain contexts, but not necessarily here. And in any case, that says more about our attitudes towards people with disabilities than it does about abortion.
Some really nasty stuff happened: a huge amount of graphic images were used and are still out there. It never got as bad as we had expected, but it was still hard. For things to happen, changing the Constitution seems to be just a first - big - step. What work remains to be done, and what will be the role of the Abortion Rights Campaign? When the eighth amendment was repealed, legislation about abortion had already been put on the table.
There are discussions about mandatory wait periods and this kind of thing, and we are not that happy about those, but part of our work is to have discussions about that. The legislation will be debated in the autumn and we expect it to be brought forward at the beginning of In the meantime, our job is to keep the pressure on to make sure that the legislation includes the right language and that people who continue to travel or take pills are taken care of.
The Abortion Rights Campaign has a broader mandate. We have a mandate to seek the establishment of free, safe and legal abortion, but we also have a longer-term mandate aimed at de-stigmatising abortion. Are people still having to travel to the UK? What improvements can be made? We need to make sure our legislation is good enough, that it allows people to get access. All along, part of the ban on abortion was also a ban on information about abortion, and most of all about how to get one. You were basically left to your own devices to go sort yourself out in the UK, and there were rogue pregnancy agencies giving terrible advice and purposefully delaying women seeking abortions.
So a big part of what will come in the future will be making sure that doctors can actually take care of their patients. We take it that conscientious objection is going to come into play and need to make sure that it does not undo any of the good that we have achieved. Get in touch with the Abortion Rights Campaign through its website or Facebook page, or follow freesafelegal on Twitter. Given that the same party had been in power since independence, what factors do you think led to their defeat this time? The transgressions were too obvious, and it was a matter of how big the loss would be for the ruling Barisan Nasional BN coalition - but we didn't expect the fall to be this big.
This election was significant because despite the challenges and obstacles placed in terms of the electoral processes, people were determined to reject the propaganda of the BN and insisted on change. In what ways was civil society active in the run up to the elections, and what challenges did civil society encounter?
Bersih provided a focus for the change, even though various interest groups also brought their particular concerns such as anti-corruption, environment and indigenous rights. During this election, voters demonstrated commitment, including outstation and overseas voters, and people participated by being monitors at polling stations and provided other forms of checks and support to prevent cheating or malpractice on polling day.
The use of social media to share information, especially on voting practices, and the post-election vigilance of the newly elected government also shows a society that wants governments - whether at the federal of state levels - to be accountable. While there was momentum for change and a number of initiatives that saw civil society coalitions or collaborations focused on the outcomes of the elections - for example, by issuing alternative manifestos - there was little real discussion on the possible scenarios, given the uncertainties and concerns that unlawful methods would be used to resist this change.
It wasn't clear what civil society's stance would have been had the outcomes been different, and how it proposes to move forward in this environment. Certainly, it is an environment filled with hopes. There are opportunities to carry out real institutional reforms, and hopes that the government will be more open to engaging with human rights-based civil society organisations CSOs. It is hoped that there will be room for a more inclusive and liberal approach in addressing the real concerns of citizens about their identities, needs and expectations.
At the same time, there are concerns that the ruling coalition could backtrack on its promises in order to accommodate the opposition and resistance from among BN and UMNO supporters. What three things could the new administration do to most improve the conditions for civil society in Malaysia? The main step is to respect the rights of civil society members on their freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
This can be done by refraining from using existing laws to curb their activities - among them, the Peaceful Assembly Act, the Immigration Act, Sedition Act and the Anti-Fake News Law, and announce plans on reforming these restrictions. Given the newly formed Institutional Reform Committee, it is hoped that the government will institute mechanisms for engagement with civil society, particularly in the areas of policy making and law making.
Among others, there should be meaningful consultations before the drafting of policies and laws at the executive level, by departments and ministries, and at the legislative level, in select committees or parliamentary hearings. The public should have access to information on these processes and be given the rights to submit inputs and feedback. What should Malaysian civil society do next to make the most of the opportunity presented by the change in government, and what support does civil society need now?
I think it is urgent for civil society to sit down and come up with a road map of action plans, which can include recommendations and mechanisms to check on the government's actions. Civil society can pool its resources to build its own monitoring platforms and processes for engaging with the government.
But most importantly, there should be leadership and commitment to ensure that change is for the long term, irrespective of which political parties come into power. The CGG didn't last, but these are worth considering as a model, with adequate fine-tuning so that there is clear focus, accountability systems and sustainability plans. Pero han cambiado su intensidad, su frecuencia y su previsibilidad.
De modo que somos corresponsables, y no podemos demandar que otros reduzcan sus emisiones si nosotros no hacemos lo mismo. Efectivamente libramos una lucha similar.
Sin embargo, la Suprema Corte mantuvo la libertad de ambos. Following the crackdown on Egyptian human rights organisations, CIHRS was forced to relocate its headquarters to Tunis, and Mr Zaree is currently being prosecuted for his human rights advocacy. He risks life imprisonment if convicted. There is no democracy in Egypt. It is obvious to everyone here that this is a dictatorship: there is no rule of law, there is a lack of an active civil society and political parties, and the space for civil society civic space is closing.
Even if there is an appearance of democratic institutions, including parliament, there is no democracy of any kind. Institutions are controlled by the security apparatus. This situation is reflected in all the laws that have been recently enacted, including the infamous NGO non-governmental organisation Law also known as Law 70 that has been widely criticised. We put high expectations on the 25 January Revolution , and it gave us some hope, which still lives on.
But technically, nothing is left from the revolution except for the benefits for the army, the police and the judiciary — there have been no gains for the people who participated in or led the revolution. Many people who took part in it are now in jail or in exile. But it is still not over yet; even if we are going through the hardest of times, a step was taken on 25 January that is very difficult to erase. So I would rather say the revolution is in hibernation right now.
Elections are a very important democratic procedure, but at the end of the day they are just a procedure. The practice of democracy is the art of compromise among different opinions; it involves the peaceful coexistence of diverse views and requires a dynamic and lively society. So democracy means a free media, free civil society and free political parties, or, in other words, the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association. Elections are therefore necessary, but they are not enough. To fulfil their purpose, elections need to meet a number of conditions that cannot be taken for granted.
In the upcoming presidential elections, to be held in early , we are supposedly going to vote for a president, but the election could easily become a referendum on the incumbent president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, since there is no democratic atmosphere that can guarantee that there is a meaningful competition among candidates for office. We are currently living under a state of emergency , with military courts and military trials for civilians, and a potential presidential candidate is facing a politically motivated trial; if convicted, he would be prevented from running.
The highly repressive NGO law that was passed earlier this year cripples the ability of civil society organisations CSOs to monitor the elections. The Assembly Law and the Protest Law severely restrict the ability of citizens to gather and demonstrate. The state and the security agencies control the media, even nominally private channels, so there is no chance for a variety of opinions to be heard. So the elections are likely to turn into a referendum. From a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate Egypt as below zero.
So for starters, for the upcoming elections to be actual elections, some changes should take place immediately: the state of emergency and the Assembly and Protest Laws should be repealed so that candidates are able to organise assemblies and run their campaigns. Political activists and media workers who are in jail should be released. An independent entity should oversee the media in order to guarantee a fair coverage for all candidates, instead of the ongoing disproportionately negative coverage of opposition candidates on state-owned media.
Media channels should be open to all citizens. And for civil society to be able to play its role, the NGO Law should be repealed. The government was, and is, trying to close civic space completely. Or rather, the president along with the security apparatus is, and not necessarily the government, since the president is in practice ruling alone. The NGO Law is clearly not an isolated piece of legislation; it fits perfectly within a wider strategy to restrict civil society.
It is not targeted specifically at human rights organisations, but encompasses all of civil society, including charity and developmental organisations. Under the new law, a CSO can be fined and its director can be jailed for up to five years for conducting a poll or publishing a report that has not been approved by the government, or for hiring a foreign worker.
Similar to the National Security Council provided for in the constitution, which is responsible for identifying ways to secure the country and respond to crises and disasters, the bill provides for an entity known as the National Agency for the Regulation of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations. To be constituted by presidential decree, the agency will consist of representatives from three security bodies, as well as representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, International Cooperation, the competent ministry for civic associations, the Central Bank, the anti-money laundering unit, and the Administrative Control Authority.
Under the law, this agency will determine all matters related to the affairs of international CSOs, funding and cooperation between Egyptian associations and any foreign body. In utter disregard for constitutional principles, the law specifies that applications to the agency receiving no response within two months will be considered denied. In an attempt to combat civic action by all possible means, the law gives the government the right to object to all internal association resolutions, nominations to their boards of directors, and the regularity of their meetings.
So this law is truly a declaration of intentions from the president toward civil society. The message is: you will work under very strict supervision, and if you are not able to work at all, that is fine with us, because you are not wanted. For instance, the assets of our Director have been frozen, but this happened as a result of the application of the Penal Code rather than the NGO Law. I have been under a travel ban not because of this law, but because of the Penal Code.
I have been under investigation and faced three charges, two of them under the Penal Code and the third, the softest, under the NGO Law. The latter charge is punishable with up to six months in prison. The other two, in contrast, can lead to life imprisonment. The two most serious charges I face, which have nothing to do with the NGO Law, are related to receiving unauthorised foreign funding and setting up an organisation of an international nature without a permit.
Although this case, also known as the Foreign Funding Case against CSOs, or Case , dates back to , these crimes became more serious after the Penal Code was amended in As I am facing two charges, I could receive two back-to-back life sentences. A life sentence in Egypt amounts to 25 years, so I could receive more than 30 years imprisonment overall, if I were convicted.
Of course all of this has affected me. I am in denial; I try not to think that I may be going to prison. In fact, I avoid this kind of thought and try to live a normal life. My family are also worried, and all of this has affected their morale, so it was good for them to go to Geneva to get my award.
In Egypt you cannot predict anything; there is always fear of what could happen next. I could finish this interview only to find the police knocking on my door to arrest me. We have learned that challenging restrictions such as travel bans and freezing asset orders through legal means is somehow useless, given the destruction undergone by the Egyptian judicial system. What we are doing instead is raise these issues with the international community. International actors have been in many meetings with government officials, in Cairo and abroad, to put pressure so that no additional charges are raised and the cases against us are closed.
From our end, we also keep challenging the legality of the procedures followed on our cases. Some human rights defenders have challenged the legitimacy of the judge presiding on their cases. The Cairo Institute has questioned the decision to extend the appointment of the judge presiding over Case and claimed that this and other legal and procedural violations have marred the case. Besides, we keep trying to do our normal work on a daily basis. As we monitor human rights abuses, we have more work than ever. We are experiencing the worse restrictions just at the time when we are needed the most.
Many human rights organisations have downsized or have moved some of their staff abroad. In sum, we are pursuing two strategies to counteract restrictions: legal challenge and international pressure. But in terms of effectiveness, international pressure definitely comes first. We need the international community to keep putting pressure on the government, facilitating the work of human rights organisations in Egypt and abroad, and providing protection for threatened human rights defenders. The Egyptian government is now facing the threat of extremism, and insist that we should all stand together against terrorism.
But what they need to understand is that security and human rights are very much linked. Rather than dealing individually with terrorists by arresting or bombing them, they need to deal with the root causes of radicalisation in Egypt. It is important that they realise that repression is not part of the solution as much as it is part of the problem. The leaders of democratic societies are in the best position to put this kind of pressure.
That is not his job; it is actually my job. What he could do is show integrity by providing protection and using his leverage to bring about slight improvements in the human rights situation, instead of selling Rafale warplanes and other military equipment to Egypt. So far, remaining silent and praising a dictator has been the price tag of those Rafale fighters. Recent years have seen an apparently growing tendency for anti-rights groups to seek to claim the space for civil society, including at the intergovernmental level.
Founded in , Ipas is dedicated to ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion. Through local, national and international partnerships, Ipas works to ensure that women can obtain safe, respectful and comprehensive abortion care, including counselling and contraception to prevent future unintended pregnancies. Still, according to the Guttmacher Institute , a research and policy organisation, more than 97 per cent of women of childbearing age in the region live in countries where abortion is restricted or completely banned.
A woman who lives in restrictive settings and wants an abortion will have to do so under illegal conditions and at great risk to not just her health, but also her security. Women who have abortions are vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, arrest, prosecution and even jail time. In a press conference to present the Report on Antisemitism in Spain during , Jacobo Israel, president of the FCJE, and Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movement against Intolerance, warned especially about the racist and xenophobic expressions spread via Internet.
Jacobo Israel and Esteban Ibarra have explained that is impossible to account in numerical form for the growth of Antisemitic acts and opinions in recent years, as much because many are not reported and because they are enveloped in a general concept of xenophobia and not extracted. Ibarra has affirmed that each year there are some 4, racist incidents in Spain. Jacobo Israel referred to the survey carried out by Casa Sefarad last year, in which There is no other similar survey in our country, so we cannot compare the evolution of opinions against Jews.
In that poll, Are Jews blamed for the crisis , like the groups of immigrants have been? They have also demanded that there be Public Prosecutors specializing in hate crimes and antisemitism in all the autonomous community currently they only exist in the provincial courts of Madrid and Barcelona. It is a minority, fortunately. On the Internet, impunity appears to prevail.
The Internet challenge is serious. They commit many crimes and also racist crimes. We cannot allow it. In Germany they recognize 24, incidents and hate crimes, and in Great Britain they recognize almost 60, The subject is serious and has produced irreparable cases, with homicides I discuss in the book. Through the Internet, they create an atmosphere of hate and later organized groups of Skinheads and neo-Nazis go out to commit these outrages. The Internet is fundamental in creating an environment of intolerance.
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It is not a problem of first the Spanish and second everyone else. Equal treatment is the principle that inspired the Treaty of the European Union. We cannot renounce it because that would be to open the doors to a society where some people are slaves to others. They have managed to get democratic parties to accept their approaches.
There exists the danger of xenophobic populism and the danger of the configuration of ultra-right formations. A ghost is running around Europe, the specter of xenophobic populism who dangerously feels the totalitarian tsunami that wants to destroy historic democratic achievements, especially those toward universal human rights.
The new extreme right continues its long march toward the institutions in all European countries, encouraging intolerance and hate, contaminating parties and democratic institutions across Europe. The spectacular electoral rise in Austria, Sweden, and Holland confirms it, joining the consolidated Le Pen Marine in France, the hard ultra-right Jobbik in Hungary, the Northern League in Italy, the BNP in Great Britain, or the Islamophobes in Switzerland; options that appear to have been constructed in the same laboratories as European neo-fascism. In a scene of economic crisis, the rise in xenophobic prejudice and harassment towards immigration are served.
In addition, the impact is even greater if the economic crisis, originated by the model and dynamic of accumulation of capital and not by immigrants, is added to a crisis of the progressive democratic project and the sustainability of the welfare state. We speak of evidence. The rejection by a large part of the population to share equal treatment in cases of employment, health, education, and all sorts of assistance comes stated not only in official polls, but also shows in discriminatory situations and harassment in everyday life.
In this context, the organized xenophobic offense gets their best results unfolding their underlying strategy which, beyond the hostility of the chosen scapegoats, directly attacks democratic cohesion and the integral coexistence of diversity, through a perverse use of whatever sort of social conflict is generated by the phenomenon of immigration, religious pluralism, and social or cultural diversity.
With xenophobic propaganda and intolerant speech, they present two realities, one of welfare state and the other of immigration, one of the West and the other of Islam, as irreconcilable, shown by an extremist campaign in Sweden.
Xenophobic populism gives simple answers to complex realities to mobilize the maximum number of votes through the use of unrealistic promises, always fallacious and opportunist in nature. But the reality, as Berlusconi has already done, is that they expel family with elderly or children, through threat and force, throwing them out of the places they live, reported skillfully by the European Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding. The fallacies of invasion, of the unlimited use by foreigners of health and education resources, unemployment, and other rights, which protect all workers, they indicate immigrants as predators of the insufficient welfare state in Spain.
A deep-rooted intolerance makes difference and diversity its enemies, creating potential objects of aggression carried out by neo-Nazi groups born from hatred and the fanatical recruitment of sanctuaries of intolerance, such as the ultras groups in soccer. An intolerance which engages with the same racism as always against the gypsy community and with the everlasting discrimination towards vulnerable groups such as homosexuals, disabled persons, or the homeless, growing in every direction, in all its expressions and with all its pernicious manifestations; xenophobia, which will never be democratic although the social majority votes for it, grows.
Xenophobic activity in recent years has received strong stimuli from the electoral results of ultra-right formations in this disoriented Europe. The neo-Nazi infection in the new xenophobic ultra-right is more than evident. Through the Internet, on web pages, blogs, forums, and social networks, accompanied by a dynamic of semi-clandestine concerts allowed, they propagate hate.
The comings and goings to international demonstrations, the obscenity present in soccer from the ultras displaying their fascist symbolism, and the continued distribution of propaganda along with indoctrination conferences that humiliate victims, evidence the lack of defense for democracy in various European countries. The alarm has reached the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the Ombudsman of the European Union as they demonstrated in Barcelona, but the concrete demand has come from the United Nations and their Special Rapporteur who asked just this year that the States party to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination fulfill their international obligations declaring as acts punishable under the law all spread of ideas based on superiority or racial hatred, any incitation to discrimination, any attendance to racist activities, including financing such activities, declaring illegal and forbidden the organizations, the activities organized for propaganda, and anything which promotes or incites racial discrimination.
We are living in a moment for urgent and profound involvement. Open season. Anything goes in sports, or rather in soccer. The solution is simple. Buy a ticket for a soccer game and you can insult, scream, and wish death upon whoever you want with no extra charge. While we were hypocritically shocked at the death of a San Lorenzo fan in Buenos Aires, in Spain we attend a parade of performances from uncivilized people who turn up at stadiums to hurl insults without consequence, the first step to more serious actions. The first people who can act on the shouts and insults coming from the stands are the referees.
The directors of the Federation told the referees that they should reflect in their reports any sort of insult , whether racist or not, that is produced during a game. They were ignored. To date, no club has been sanctioned by the Competition Committee of the Federation for similar situations. It is a chain reaction. Sources from the Federation spoken to by El Confidencial think all that will change when a referee, by his own decision or that of a player, suspends a game for the insults coming from the crowd.
There are not many referees who dare to put any sort of mention in their report. Pino Zamorano, in the Second Division, dared to do it in a game between Betis and Cartagena last season. In a game against Zaragoza, the Cameroonian decided to walk off after repeated shouts from the stands imitating a gorilla. Only the intervention of his Barcelona teammates stopped him from leaving the field mid-game. It happened in Cagliari, and the game was suspended for three minutes. Just like in Spain. The problem is that it is not applied, at least not as it is intended to be.
The law allows referees to suspend any sort of athletic event where there are racist insults or insults against the honor of the athletes or officials. It considers as well fines ranging from to , Euros or even prison. Also, obviously, prohibition from attending any sports arena. What happens is that if there is no report, there is no possibility for punishment. The Antiviolence Commission has proposed punishments for fans or clubs who do not follow the regulations, but always after police reports. Now the question is clear: Why does soccer look the other way?
In basketball, there have already been games stopped for insults against the officials. They needed no more reason. The curious thing is that the players are working to show their solidarity. These positive developments need to be strengthened and stimulated, since discrimination and victimisation still remain far too widespread. At the same time, levels of reporting by victims of racist assaults, threats or serious harassment and awareness of how to access redress mechanisms remains low.
This creates a situation of social exclusion and, in some cases, leads to open hostility and violence. In particular, our findings highlight recurring forms of stigmatisation of Roma communities in public discourse. However, a coordinated response at the European level is needed to address the cross-border dimension of the problems that these people experience. Our institutions stand together to support and assist States in finding sustainable solutions at local, national, and European levels, through the provision of data, research findings, specialist advice, and coordinating support, on the basis of our complementary fields of expertise.
Victims of xenophobic crimes demand that the crimes not go unpunished and warm of the fascist growth on the Internet. Guillem and Carlos both died in hate crimes. Year later, their families continue to fight so that their memory lives on. The only one who lives to tell his own story, although from his wheelchair, is the Congolese Miwa Monake, 43 years of age and quadriplegic since February 10, , when another neo-Nazi delivered a blow to his back that left him paralyzed. Yesterday, we celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with ceremonies in different cities around the world.
Carlos Palomino: His mother keeps up the fight. Through that, she tries to make sure that xenophobic aggressions do not go unpunished, something that is not always easy. Spain does not count on the official data on crimes that have their basis in racism or fascism. The police do not recognize it as such, so that it is associations such as Movement against Intolerance that have their own speculations.
This association, directed by Esteban Ibarra, estimates that each year there are some aggressions of this type. On a European scale, over 9 million citizens have at some point been involved in a xenophobic altercation, according to the European Agency of Fundamental Rights of the EU. And, suddenly, April 13, a neo-Nazi stabbed him to death. Many government officials do not even ask the motivation of these attacks when they are reported.
The politicians also do not explain well the damage that prejudice inflicts. They attack poor black, not soccer players, for example. The mercantile vision of humanity, which treats immigration as a tool and forgets its human character, does not help to neutralize these prejudices. Miwa Monake: Quadriplegic for life. Long live Spain! From that tremendous hit from a neo-Nazi at the exit of a discoteca, he was left quadriplegic.
His attacker, Roberto Alonso de la Varga, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The events occurred in February of The praise is not free. Miwa, during his convalescence, thought many times of taking his own life. He had help in overcoming this bad time from Ibarra and his wife Mirella, who has stayed be his side all this time. Miwa is almost 2 meters tall and will have to remain forever in a wheelchair. It is appropriate this week of March 21, when the UN instituted the International Day Against Racism recalling its victims, whether they be victims of discrimination, hate, or violence, to remember that our country is not making sufficient progress in the face of this scourge.
It is demonstrated in official international reports that insist on the lack of recognition of the problem, on the lack of official statistics about racist and xenophobic incidents, and of reports and legal actions against hate crime. A more than truthful hypothesis that we have been able to prove. Nevertheless, tranquility overwhelms our institutions, in comparison to Germany, which recognizes more than 20, crimes of racism and intolerance, Great Britain with more than 60, incidents, or the investigations of the European Agency of Fundamental Rights which indicates several million incidents in the EU; in Spain it appears that the problem scarcely affects us, or at least that is what those who do not respond to the data requirements of these organizations would suggest.
Furthermore, the UN has asked the government to eradicate the identification checkpoints for immigrants on the basis of ethnic or racial criteria in neighborhood with a high concentration of foreigners and to guarantee the proper function of the Internment Centers, remembering that illegal immigrants who serve 60 days of internment in these centers remain on the streets with an order for deportation, in a situation where they are extremely vulnerable to abuse and discrimination.
Socially, while the surveys denote a latent growth of intolerance, prejudices, and contrary attitudes toward immigration and toward our main ethnic minority, the Gypsy community, our fellow citizens are not aware of the racist behaviors that dwell among us. But no, we are not racist. On various occasions these international groups have demanded that xenophobic websites be shut down, but over of the thousands available on the Internet originate in Spain.
They also demand the illegalization of racist organizations, but here we have xenophobic parties who demonstrate with no problem. They demand that we legally punish incitement to hate, but in our country dozens of neo-Nazi concerts take place with no penalties. They demand that we remove symbols of this type from soccer fields, but here the ultras groups persist despite their legal prohibition. They also remind us that our legal cases must conform to the requirements of the EU Framework Decision against Racism, but our penal code has yet to do this.
They urge development of effective instruments for prosecution, but we only have two Public Prosecutors for hate crimes in Barcelona and Madrid.