November

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November 2007

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Uzbek Journalist Murdered in Kyrgyzstan
Somali Journalist Murdered in His Home
Pakistani Human Rights Activist Under House Arrest
Iranian Women’s Rights Activist Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Prison and Ten Lashes
Journalist Attacked in Kosovo
Update: Civil Society Organizations Work to End Rights Abuses in Burma
War Crimes Reporter in Croatia Arrested

Announcements and Events
Call for Papers: “Libraries from a Human Rights Perspective”
Call for Workshop Proposals: 8th CIVICUS World Assembly
Call for Applications: Asian Regional Learning Program on Budget Analysis and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Human Rights Watch Honors Global Rights Defenders
Malawi Law Journal Launches Web Site

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice
Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Publishes Mediation Guide

Elections
Azerbaijani Human Rights Groups Participate in OSCE Warsaw Meeting
Independent Election Monitoring Group Issues Report on Elections in Sierra Leone

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights
FORUM-Asia Hosts Workshop on Role of Women in Armed Conflict
Call for Workshop Proposals: 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice
Democracy Coalition Project Publishes Analysis of Human Rights Council

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology
Freedom House Condemns Kazakh Government’s Blocking of Web Sites

Young People's Political and Civic Participation
Liberian Youth Celebrate World Youth Day for Democracy
Society for Democratic Initiatives Issues Report on Street Children in Freetown, Sierra Leone

World Movement Participating Networks, Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

Uzbek Journalist Murdered in Kyrgyzstan
On October 24, Uzbek journalist Alisher Saipov was murdered in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.  According to the online newspaper ferghana.ru, Saipov was shot three times at close range by an unknown assailant.  He is survived by his wife and infant daughter.  Saipov founded the Uzbek language newspaper SIYOSAT(Politics), which focuses on current affairs in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.  SIYOSAT covered topics including human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, the manipulation of the upcoming presidential election there, and the criminal activities of Uzbek security services operating across the border in Kyrgyzstan.  Saipov also was a frequent contributor to ferghana.ru, uznews.net, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Voice of America.  Many have speculated that his murder is a result of his journalistic work.  In spring 2007, Saipov’s newspaperbegan unofficial circulation in Uzbek sections of the Ferghana Valley.  Soon after, a campaign began within Uzbekistan to discredit Saipov.  Because of his reporting of human rights abuses, many friends and colleagues were concerned about his safety during the period leading up to his murder, which was marked by attacks against him on Uzbek Web sites and surveillance of his office.  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Reporters Without Borders, and the National Endowment for Democracy, the Secretariat of the World Movement for Democracy, have all made public statements condemning Saipov’s murder and calling on Kyrgyzstan to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation.

For information on the murder and local reactions published by ferghana.ru (in Russian), go to: www.ferghana.ru/news.php?id=7494&mode=snews&PHPSESSID=a44eac6864bc2816cecbe71e634c0ebb

To read the statement from Amnesty International, go to: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR580022007

To read the statement from Human Rights Watch, go to: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/10/25/kyrgyz17171.htm

To read the statement by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, go to: www.osce.org/item/27572.html

To read the statement by Reporters Without Borders, go to: www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24277

To read the statement from the National Endowment for Democracy (in English and Russian), go to: http://www.ned.org/reporters/news

Somali Journalist Murdered in His Home
The National Union of Somali Journalists reports that on the evening of October 19, Bashir Nor Gedi, Acting Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson of Shabelle Media Network was murdered at his home by unknown gunmen.  The murder appears to be a premeditated attack, according to his family members and eyewitnesses.  Bashir is the eighth media person killed in Somalia since January 2007.  After Shabelle Radio broadcasted the assassination of its boss, it stopped airing its normal programs and began airing verses of the Holy Quran for grief of the death.  The Shabelle Media Network has been recently experiencing attacks on its journalists and its premises, and senior journalists of the network have fled from Mogadishu.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/SomaliJournalistDemNews1107.pdf

Pakistani Human Rights Activist Under House Arrest
Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist, Ms. Asma Jahangir was put under house arrest on November 3.  Jahangir was arrested for speaking out for democracy, for insisting the government obey the Constitution and respect individual rights, and for speaking against military leaders, including Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.  Her 90-day detention order charges activities "prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order."  Jahangir has been a human rights activist for many years.  In 1986, she helped found the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.  The organization has championed women's rights, demanded an end to bonded labor, challenged blasphemy laws, defended media freedoms, and exposed official corruption.  On November 4, the Commission was raided and 70 supporters were arrested.

Jahangir’s is but one case in the recent crackdown.  Police in Pakistan have arrested thousands of people, including lawyers and judges whom Musharraf accuses of undermining his efforts to protect Pakistan.  On November 6, the International Crisis Group called on President Musharraf to immediately release Asma Jahangir and restore the country's constitutional order.

To read the statement made by the International Crisis Group, go to: www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5145&l=1

For the Los Angeles Times article on Asma Jahangir, go to: www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-asma7nov07,1,1135158.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Iranian Women's Rights Activist Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Prison and Ten Lashes
The Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace reports that Delaram Ali has been sentenced to two-and-half years in prison and ten lashes for her participation in the June 12, 2006 protest in support of women’s rights in Iran as a result of an appeals court decision.  The protest was violently broken up by the police, and Ms. Ali sustained a broken arm as a result of the severe beatings. Complaints of excessive force were filed against the police, but last month the police were found innocent.  During her original May 29, 2007 trial, Ms. Ali was sentenced to two years, ten months imprisonment and 20 lashes, but the appeals court slightly reduced the sentence.  Ms. Ali is an activist in the One Million Signatures campaign, which aims to end discrimination against women in Iranian law.

Go to: www.learningpartnership.org/advocacy/alerts/iranwomenarrests0307

Journalist Attacked in Kosovo
According to the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), on October 16, Voice of America journalist Vesna Bojičić was assaulted by a masked man in her apartment in Caglavica, Kosovo.  Her attacker warned her to take this, his “final warning,” seriously, or he would kill her and abduct her child.  This is the fifth time Ms. Bojičić has been physically assaulted in Kosovo since June 1999.  In addition to these assaults, Ms. Bojičić has also received numerous verbal threats by phone and in person.  The HLC believes that Ms. Bojičić is a target because of her professional work and critical reporting on the international administration of Kosovo, Kosovo institutions, the leaders of the Serb enclaves, and Serbian authorities.  To date, international and Kosovo police have not conducted an effective investigation into any one of the assaults according to HLC, and none of the assailants have been brought to justice.  The HLC and ANEM are calling upon Kosovo institutions to take all necessary measures to protect the physical well being and dignity of journalists, who, like Vesna Bojičić, are risking their lives for the well being of Kosovo society.  ANEM is also appealing to all professional media and journalist associations, and to members of the general public who care about democracy, to demonstrate their solidarity with journalist Vesna Bojičić.

To read the statement by HLC, go to: www.wmd.org/documents/HLC2007Oct.pdf

To read the statement by ANEM, go to: www.wmd.org/documents/ASEM2007Oct.pdf

Update: Civil Society Organizations Work to End Rights Abuses in Burma
In the October issue of DemocracyNews, an alert was issued concerning the peaceful protests that were held in Burma and the resulting human rights abuses.  A military crackdown has quashed the public protests and thousands of peaceful monks and protesters are right now being brutalized in secret prisons.  Last month a number of organizations and World Movement participants condemned the actions of the Burmese government and mobilized support for the victims of the oppression.  Since that alert went out, several more organizations have joined in solidarity to take action, as follows:

On October 22, women activists of the ’88 Generation Students group and National League for Democracy, sent a letter calling on the United Nations to take immediate measures to help protect women in Burma from continuing human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, ‘hostage-taking’, torture, other ill-treatment, and a lack of access to medical care.  Most recently, over 200 participants from civil society organizations and trade unions from across Southeast Asia and beyond have called upon the leaders of ASEAN to postpone the signing of the ASEAN Charter due to the Burmese junta’s recent violent crackdown on peaceful protests.  At the conclusion of the third ASEAN + Civil Society Conference (ACSC III) held in Singapore on November 2-4, all participants agreed that the current political crisis in Burma must first be resolved in accordance with basic human rights standards before ASEAN’s leaders can sign a Charter for a “caring, sharing community.”  Participants urged ASEAN countries, particularly Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, to do more than issue strong statements and to take concrete action, including the imposition of an arms embargo and the stemming of the flow of resources to the military junta.  There was also a call on the Indonesian government, as current Chair of the UN Security Council, to advocate the imposition of sanctions and other targeted measures, and for ASEAN to place more pressure on China and India to take concrete measures to push the Burmese military generals to engage in a democratic process of reform.

To read the letter of appeal to the UN from women activists in Burma, go to: www.wmd.org/documents/BurmeseWomenDemNews1107.pdf

To read more about the ACSC III conference, go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1182&Itemid=132

To read the previous World Movement alert on Burma, go to: www.wmd.org/democracynews/oct07.html#2

War Crimes Reporter in Croatia Arrested
On October 17, Zeljko Peratovik was arrested and charged with revealing a state secret following a search of his home in Zagreb.  Police seized files and computers, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether or not to put him on trial.  According to Reporters Without Borders, his arrest was prompted by posts on his blogs concerning war crimes committed in Gospic in the 1990s.  Due to his reporting on war crimes, Peratovik has lost his job, been physically attacked, and is thought of as a traitor by many in the country who deny that Croatia has committed war crimes.

Go to: www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24063

 

Announcements and Events

Call for Papers: "Libraries from a Human Rights Perspective"
The Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS) invites writers and researchers to submit papers for its upcoming conference, “Libraries from a Human Rights Perspective,” which will be held on March 31 – April 2, 2008 in Palestine.  Papers should focus on libraries and human rights, libraries and freedom of expression, or libraries and diversity.  Abstracts are due by November 30, 2007, and can be submitted in either English or Arabic.  The center will cover participation expenses of researchers whose papers are accepted with a symbolic cash award, in addition to publishing all papers in Arabic and English in the conference proceedings book.

Go to: www.rchrs.ps/callforpapers.html

Call for Workshop Proposals: 8th CIVICUS World Assembly
CIVICUS: The World Alliance for Citizen Participation invites organizations to submit workshop proposals for its 8th World Assembly to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in June 2008.  The theme for the World Assembly is “Acting Together for a Just World.”  The focus theme will be “People, Participation, and Power!”  The CIVICUS World Assembly is an opportunity for civil society organizations, researchers, activists, business leaders, and government officials to build alliances and share ideas on how to strengthen citizen participation.  Organizations should submit a concept note by November 12, 2007.

Go to: www.civicusassembly.org

Call for Applications: Asian Regional Learning Program on Budget Analysis and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The Asian Institute for Human Rights, Fundar - Centro de Análisis e Investigación, the International Budget Project (IBP), the International Human Rights Internship Program (IHRIP), and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( ESCR - Net) are together organizing a conference on budget analysis and economic, social, and cultural rights, which will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand on April 19-28, 2008.  The conference is open to individuals living and working in Asian countries.  The application deadline is November 15, 2007

Go to: www.escr-net.org/events/events_show.htm?doc_id=522607

Human Rights Watch Honors Global Rights Defenders
Two courageous human rights lawyers, from Zimbabwe and Nepal, have been chosen to receive the prestigious Human Rights Defender Awards.  The awards will be presented at dinners in London, Munich, Hamburg, and Geneva in November.  The honorees are Zimbabwean lawyer and World Movement participant, Arnold Tsunga, and Nepalese human rights lawyer, Mandira Sharma. Both honorees have used the law to expose abuses and seek redress for victims of gross human rights violations in their countries.  Tsunga, executive director of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, returned home to Harare this year despite being constantly harassed and threatened by government forces.  He uses the courts to take on Robert Mugabe’s regime, giving a voice to Zimbabweans silenced by repression.  Sharma, the first woman in her village to become a lawyer, founded Advocacy Forum to champion the rights of Nepalis caught in the civil war between Maoist insurgents and the Nepali government.  Since a peace agreement was signed in 2006, Sharma has concentrated on bringing to justice those who committed abuses on both sides.

Go to: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/10/10/eca17065_txt.htm

Malawi Law Journal Launches Web Site
The Malawi Law Journal has launched a new Web site.  The Journal publishes articles that explore the interface, tension, and congruence between law, human rights, democracy, and development in Malawi and other developing countries, especially those from Africa.  It also accepts submissions analyzing recent judicial decisions, new legislation, and current law reform proposals in the region.  Articles of a comparative nature, which are locally relevant, and those dealing with current legal issues of regional importance are considered.  The Journal appears twice in a year in June and December. Submissions are received throughout the year.

Go to: www.lawjournal.mw

 

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice

Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Publishes Mediation Guide
The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) recently launched “A Guide to Mediation: Enabling Peace Processes in Violent Conflicts.”  The guide includes standards and best practices in the areas of mediation processes, common difficulties, and core values for the mediation profession.  The HD Centre believes this is an important time to provide such material since the number of conflicts resolved by mediation is increasing.

Go to: www.hdcentre.org/datastore/Mediation%20support/mediationguidelines.pdf

 

Elections

Azerbaijani Human Rights Groups Participate in OSCE Warsaw Meeting
At the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), held from September 25 to October 5 in Warsaw, NGOs from Human Rights House Azerbaijan brought attention to concerns in relation to the 2008 elections in Azerbaijan.  These concerns have arisen because the government has exerted control over the electoral commission, and activists believe this could lead to election crimes.  NGOs also distributed a statement on the deteriorating level of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.  They pointed to state hostility towards independent media, threats made towards journalists, and the use of defamation cases to cripple the media.

Go to:  www.humanrightshouse.org/dllvis5.asp?id=5973

Independent Election Monitoring Group Issues Report on Elections in Sierra Leone
On Sepetember 1-2, the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies based in Jordan and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung held a second conference in a series on Civic Democratic Islamic Discourse in Amman, Jordan.  The conference, entitled “Constitutionalism based on Islamic Values and Principles of Governance,”  brought together academics and activists from 20 Arab and Muslim countries.  The conference participants discussed state identity, political systems, and rights and duties of citizens that are in line with the values and teachings of Islam.

Go to: www.alqudscenter.org/english/pages.php?local_type=122&local_details=1&idd=80

 

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights

FORUM-Asia Hosts Workshop on Role of Women in Armed Conflict
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-Asia) is hosting a conference in November, which will bring together about 20 women who work on peace building and human rights advocacy in conflict and post-conflict zones in Asia.  The workshop will strengthen networking among women in the field; promote public awareness of the work of women human rights defenders; popularize the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which emphasizes the vital role of women in conflict solution and mandates a review of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls; and introduce other international instruments that can be used to protect women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1117&Itemid=42

Call for Workshop Proposals: 11th AWID International Forum on Women's Rights and Development
The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) is seeking proposals for sessions at their International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development to be held in South Africa in November 2008.  The theme of the conference will be “The Power of Movements.”  The women’s movement has historically been a strong example of the power and effectiveness of movements, but attention has recently shifted away from movements towards project-centered approaches.  AWID hopes to bring together over 1,500 activists to examine past movements and discuss how to build stronger women’s movements around the world.  The deadline for submitting proposals is January 28, 2008.

Go to: www.awid.org/forum08/call_for_proposals.html

 

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice

Democracy Coalition Project Publishes Analysis of Human Rights Council
The Democracy Coalition Project recently published “Human Rights Council Report Card: Government Positions on Key Issues 2006-2007.”  The report tracks the positions of members of the Human Rights Council on issues such as the universal periodic review mechanism, special procedures, and country human rights reports.  It is designed to help human rights activists in their work to make sure the Council is effective and addresses serious human rights issues.  The Democracy Coalition Project plans to make this an ongoing project to provide greater transparency and accountability of the Human Rights Council.

Go to: www.demcoalition.org/2005_html/undem_appea.html

 

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology

Freedom House Condemns Kazakh Government's Blocking of Web Sites
According to Freedom House, authorities in Kazakhstan have blocked four opposition Web sites.  The closures of these Web sites have been linked to their publication of transcripts of telephone conversations alleged to involve senior government officials.  Freedom House claims that the Web site shutdown is part of a broader pattern of anti-democratic behavior by the Kazakh authorities.  Kazakhstan has also supported a Russian initiative to limit the scope of OSCE election monitoring missions.  Currently, Kazakhstan is pursuing the chairmanship of the OSCE.  Freedom House argues that Kazakhstan’s activities make the country an undesirable candidate for the OSCE chairmanship.  Kazakhstan currently rates as “Not Free” in Freedom House’s “Freedom of the Press” and “Freedom in the World” surveys.

Go to: www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=577

 

Young People's Political and Civic Participation

Liberian Youth Celebrate World Youth Day for Democracy
On October 15-19, the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections – Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE) organized a number of events in celebration of World Youth Day for Democracy.  The events reached over 1,000 young people in Liberia.  Young political leaders and government leaders spoke to students on the importance of democracy, participation, and responsibility.  The film “American Promise” was shown to a group of students to teach them about the constant need to maintain and improve democracies.  NAYMOTE also organized School Democracy Clubs in which participants in these events will go back and teach the skills they have learned to their classmates and members of their communities.  World Youth Day for Democracy is an initiative of the World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD).  Every year on October 18, the WYMD encourages youth organizations around the world to highlight initiatives, which mobilize, educate, and raise awareness among youth.

To read more about NAYMOTE’s World Youth Day events, go to: www.wmd.org/documents/NAYMOTEDemNews1107.pdf

To read more about World Youth Day activities supported by the WYMD, go to: www.ymd.youthlink.org/ymd/launchday.html

Society for Democratic Initiatives Issues Report on Street Children in Freetown, Sierra Leone
In October, the Society for Democratic Initiatives in Sierra Leone issued its report entitled, “Saving the Next Generation: A Needs Assessment of Street.”  The goal of the report is to assess the needs of street children within the area of Freetown, Sierra Leone and provide some clarity of the need for the international community, the government of Sierra Leone, and Civil society organizations to help this vulnerable group within a society that is recovering from ten years of brutal civil war.  The report analyzes the reasons for living on the street, the various forms of employment on the streets, the level of education among street children, and their harsh living conditions.  The report also makes recommendations for various government bodies and civil society organizations on how to save the next generation.

Go to: http://files.tiggroups.org/55423/Save%20the%20Next%20Generation%20in%20Sierra%20Leone.pdf

 

World Movement Participating Organizations, Networks and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

Please Note: Readers of DemocracyNews will often be referred to Web sites for further information. If you are interested in a particular item, but are unable to access the World Wide Web, please contact the World Movement or fax at +1-202- 378-9889, and we will try to provide the information to you by other means.