September 2010

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September 2010


Democracy Alerts/Appeals
World Movement Network Updates
Announcements & Events
Defending Civil Society
Civic Education
Civil Society Strengthening
Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights
Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
Political Parties & Political Leadership
Tolerance & Religious Freedom
Young People’s Political & Civic Participation

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Update: Democracy Scholar Larry Diamond Appeals to Bahraini Foreign Minister
On August 27, Dr. Larry Diamond, director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifah, urging him to grant bail to World Movement participant Abdeljalil Al-Singace and his colleagues, or at the very least, allowing them contact with their families and attorneys. Dr. Diamond asserts in his letter that these arrests seem to be an attempt to use counter-terrorism laws to limit freedom of expression.
On August 13, Abdeljalil Al-Singace, head of the Shiite opposition group Haq (Movement for Liberties and Democracy) in Bahrain, was arrested at the airport in Muarraq upon returning from a conference on human rights conditions in Bahrain and speaking at London's House of Lords on rights violations and environmental degradation. Charges against him include defaming the government and judicial authorities and "publishing false information about the country's internal affairs" with the intent of tarnishing the perception of Bahrain. Following his arrest, seven other leading activists were also arrested. Concerned participants are encouraged to follow Dr. Diamond’s example, and send letters supporting Mr. Alsingace and his colleagues.
To read Dr. Diamond’s letter, go to:
To read other alerts about the current situation in Bahrain, go to:
World Movement Participant Seelan Palay Sentenced to Two Weeks in Prison in Singapore
In August, activist, film-maker, blogger, and World Movement participant Seelan Palay served a two-week prison term for unlawful assembly in Singapore. According to the Singapore Democratic Party, Mr. Palay was convicted this past March with eight others for taking part in the Tak Boleh Tahan (“cannot take it”) protest on March 15, 2008, outside the Parliament. All eight individuals are appealing their convictions, but no court dates have been set. Two of the convicted, World Movement participants Ms. Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan, served their two-week terms earlier this year.
For more information from the Singapore Democratic Party, go to:
For more information from Seelan Palay’s blog, go to:
For more information from the BBC, go to:
For previous alerts on Chee Soon Juan, go to:
Prominent Russian Human Rights Activist Lev Ponomarev Sentenced to Three Days in Prison
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), on August 22, Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev was arrested while attempting to join a public rally in Moscow to support the protection of the Khimki Forest Park. Police detained him for several hours, alleging that earlier in the day he had failed to follow an order of a policeman, and released him pending an administrative hearing on August 25.  On the evening of August 25, a justice of the peace upheld the police allegations and sentenced Mr. Ponomarev to three days administrative detention. HRW researcher Tanya Lokshina asserts that the police arrested Mr. Ponomarev with the intent to keep him from participating in the protest, and calls the arrest a violation of freedom of assembly. HRW calls on Russian authorities to immediately halt the practice of interfering with freedom of assembly, in particular through the detention of human rights activists and other peaceful participants in public assemblies.

World Movement Network Updates
World Youth Movement for Democracy Launches Global Essay Contest
To commemorate International Youth Day for Democracy on August 12, 2010, the World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD) launched its Global Essay Contest.   Young people, aged 18 to 30, from new and transitional democracies, authoritarian and semi-authoriarian governments, and closed societies are invited to participate and thereby help illustrate the role that youth play in advancing democracy around the world. Essay topic options have been designed to encourage youth to describe their own experiences, perspectives, and understanding of democracy, as well as underscore the universal democratic values they share with individuals from different cultures. Three essays from each region will be selected as semi-finalists and will be published on the WYMD Web site. Two final winners will receive cost sponsorship to attend the Community of Democracies Ministerial Meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July 2011.   The essay submission deadline is on October 18, 2010, World Youth Day for Democracy, for which the WYMD has begun planning activities.  
To raise awareness on challenges confronting young democracy activists, the WYMD is marking this year’s Day for Democracy under the theme, “Recognizing Young Activists at Risk”. In particular, the WYMD wants to draw attention to the plight of young people who have been detained, or who face possible detention, because of their democracy activism.  The WYMD is encouraging members and other organizers to send video footage and pictures of their Day for Democracy events to for a video capturing how the World Youth Day for Democracy was celebrated in different parts of the world.

Announcements & Events
World Movement Posts New DemocracyVoices Videos
The World Movement has posted three new video interviews for its new online feature, DemocracyVoices, which allows participants in the World Movement to share their experiences in democracy work, their achievements and disappointments, and their insights into the current challenges to democracy in their countries, regions, and around the world. The new interviews feature Katya Salazar of the Due Process of Law Foundation, Maina Kiai of InformAction Kenya, and Robert Lagamma of the Council for a Community of Democracies. The World Movement launched DemocracyVoices in August featuring interviews with Inna Pidluska of Europe XXI Foundation in Ukraine and Gus Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue in the Philippines. 
To see all interviews, go to:
World Movement Updates “What’s Being Done on the Protection of Journalists?”
In September, the World Movement updated “What’s Being Done on the Protection of Journalists?” to include a profile on journalism in Cuba and an interview with Nicolas Jimenez, the chairman of Caimán Journalism Training (CJT). Cuba’s government has a tight grip on the media, and controls all print and broadcasting news. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of December 1, 2009, 22 journalists were imprisoned in Cuba. The state’s control over traditional media has led to the increased use of blogging for reporting Cuban news.  However, this has also been made difficult by the government’s censorship of and inaccessibility to the Internet. CJT, a Miami-based non-profit organization, seeks to provide Cuban journalists with training and capacity-building programs as well as provide journalists with technology and assistance to publish their work.
To read the interview with Nicolas Jimenez, go to:
World Movement Steering Committee Chair Receives Canada’s Highest Honor
On September 3, Former Prime Minister of Canada and Chairwoman of the World Movement Steering Committee, the Hon. Kim Campbell, was awarded the rank of Companion in the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaelle Jean in Ottawa. The award recognizes outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavor and is the country's highest honor for lifetime achievement.
Call for Applications: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) invites applications for fellowships in 2011-2012.  The program enables democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change.  Dedicated to international exchange, this five-month, residential program offers a collegial environment for fellows to reflect on their experiences; consider best practices and lessons learned; conduct research and writing; engage with counterparts; and develop professional relationships within a global network of democracy advocates. The program is intended primarily to support practitioners, scholars, and journalists from developing and aspiring democracies; distinguished scholars from established democracies may also apply.  A working knowledge of English is required. All fellows receive a monthly stipend, health insurance, travel assistance, and research support.  The program does not fund professional training, fieldwork, or students working towards a degree. The program will host two five-month fellowship sessions in 2011 - 2012: October 1, 2011 - February 28, 2012 (Fall 2011) and March 1 - July 31, 2012 (Spring 2012). The deadline for applications is November 1, 2010.
Information may also be viewed in the following languages by clicking on these links:  Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Call for Speakers: ICNC Webinars on Nonviolent Action and Civil Resistance
The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) is inviting academics and scholars of nonviolent action and civil resistance who are interested in being a part of its webinar series to submit a presentation topic. Each webinar focuses on a topic related specifically to the strategic use of nonviolent action and civil resistance. The webinars are typically an hour in length: 30 to 40 minutes of presentation, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of questions and answers. Each webinar is also recorded and then posted on ICNC’s website so it can be viewed and shared by others. ICNC will offer a modest fee for the speakers’ time to prepare and present their work. If you are interested, please submit a presentation abstract with the outline of the discussion and your CV to by September 20, 2010.
King Prajadhipok’s Institute to Hold Conference on Quality of Thai Democracy
On November 4-6, the King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI) will host its 12th annual congress, entitled “The Quality of Society and the Quality of Thai Democracy.” The conference will serve as a public forum to present scholarly works on issues related to the quality of democracy and the quality of Thai society, as well as to exchange knowledge and experiences related to social and democratic development. KPI invites submissions of academic research to be presented at the conference for discussion. Accepted submissions will also be published in the conference report.

Defending Civil Society
CIVICUS Expresses Disappointment with India’s New Curbs on Civil Society
In August, over 70 eminent civil society activists from around the globe who attended the CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal expressed deep disappointment with the recent enactment of India's regressive Foreign Contributions Regulations Act, 2010. The Act allows for broad executive discretion to designate organizations as being political and thereby prevent them from receiving funding from abroad, which could affect the independence of civil society groups critical of government policies. It also requires organizations to renew their permission to receive funding from abroad every five years, which subjects them to additional bureaucratic red tape, and places an arbitrary cap of 50 percent on the administrative expenses of an organization tha receives foreign funding. According to CIVICUS, the new law adds India to the list of countries, such as Bahrain, Ethiopia, Jordan, Israel, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, allegedly implementing or seeking to introduce restrictive legislation on international cooperation and funding.

Civic Education
Education for Democracy Foundation in Poland Holds Teaching Materials Contest
The Education for Democracy Foundation based in Poland invites teachers and NGO representatives from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia to take part in a teaching materials contest. The goal of the contest is to create new teaching materials (in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian) and make them available for public use, which will allow young people to learn more about their own and neighboring countries’ modern history. This year, the Foundation is soliciting materials about freedom movements and social change, which took place in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia between 1970 and 1992.  Priority will be given to papers that include information about cross-border relations among social movements in different countries. The best materials will be published in bilingual brochures and on the Foundation’s Web site.  The deadline for submitting materials is October 15.
Go to: (in Russian and Polish)

Civil Society Strengthening
African Civil Society Forum Held in Namibia
On August 13-15, the African Civil Society Forum for Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries was held in Windhoek, Namibia. At the conclusion of the conference, several organizations, including the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, the NANGOF Trust, the SADC Council of NGOs, and the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council, developed and signed a Civil Society Statement. The statement stresses the rapidly shrinking space for civil society, the isolation of civil society from decision-making processes, the negative effect of climate change on socio-economic issues, the limitations on laborers to move freely within their own countries, the limitations on SADC citizens traveling from country to country, and concern for the rights of women and youth. The signatories urge the SADC member states to respect and guarantee the rights of their citizens and of civil society. 

Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
International Crisis Group Issues Report on Pogroms in Kyrgyzstan
On August 23, the International Crisis Group released “The Pogroms in Kyrgyzstan,” a report that highlights the risk of spiraling violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan and the central government’s loss of control over the region. On June 11-14, 2010, an explosion of violence, destruction, and looting in southern Kyrgyzstan killed hundreds of people, mostly Uzbeks; destroyed over 2,000 buildings, mostly homes; and deepened the gulf between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. According to the report, this was further proof of the near total ineffectiveness of the provisional government that overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010, and is now trying to guide the country to general elections in October. Given the government’s slowness to address the causes and consequences of the violence, the danger of another explosion is high. The report therefore calls on the Kyrgyz government to support an internationally backed inquiry into the pogroms, which took place in May and June 2010 in Jalalabad and Osh. It also urges the international community to form a united front to call on the Kyrgyz government to address the root causes of the violence and warn the country’s leadership of the dangers of inaction and denial.
International Peace and Development Training Center Launches Autumn Peace Academy in Romania
In August, the International Peace and Development Training Center (IPDTC), based in Romania, launched its Autumn 2010 Peace Academy with two new programs: “Gender and Peace-building” and “Peace-building, Conflict Resolution, and Post-War Stabilization, Recovery, and Reconciliation.” The first program is a five-day Advanced Certificate Program that will be held on October 25-29 and will focus on the role of women in improving the effectiveness of peace building and on ways to maxime the impact of gender and peace-building work. The second program will be held on November 1-5 and will provide a global policy and operational overview of the latest lessons learned, tools, and methods in peace-building, conflict transformation, and post-war stabilization and recovery. Both programs will be hosted in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Egyptian Organizations Call for Constitutional Amendments to Provide Free Elections
On August 16, the Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations, which is composed of 11 Egyptian human rights organizations, issued a statement strongly condemning the repression, harassment, and intimidation of political activists who have demanded guarantees of transparency and integrity in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, and called for constitutional amendments to ensure competitive and free elections. The Forum notes the assault on the peaceful “car march” in Alexandria, as well as the repeated arrests, detentions, humiliation, and physical and verbal attacks on participants in various peaceful protests advocating political and democratic reform. The Forum warns of the consequences of restricting the peaceful expression of ideas, and stresses that the Emergency Law and an arsenal of other laws that restrict the freedoms of political opposition groups, cast a long shadow over the future of the political process in Egypt at crucial critical juncture. Accordingly, the Forum urges state agencies to abandon the policy and practice of intimidating and harassing political activists under the Emergency Law and demands that state institutions respect safeguards aimed at protecting the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. 

Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights
Aurat Foundation Launches Motherland Flood Relief Campaign for Women and Children in Pakistan
In August, the Aurat Foundation, based in Pakistan, launched the Motherland Flood Relief Campaign for Women and Children to help the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan. Over 20 million people have been affected by the floods. The death toll is over 1,600 and rising each day, and hygiene and sanitary conditions have vastly deteriorated. Millions have become homeless. The Aurat Foundation asserts that government and donor emergency relief plans are seriously lacking adequate focus on gender issues, and that once again women's special concerns and needs are being ignored. Moreover, during the earthquakes of 2005 and 2009, the Foundation received reports of increased gender-based violence, trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping, abduction, rape, and domestic violence. Because of this history, the Foundation urges that women be included as equal participants in all decision-making, policy-making, planning, funding allocations and disbursements, and program implementation. In launching the campaign, the Aurat Foundation aims to liaise with existing flood centers to see that women and children are receiving adequate attention, lobby for a gender-based approach to disaster relief efforts now and in the future, and critically assess and analyze the government’s response to disasters.
Centre for Democratic Institutions Accepting Nominations for 2010 Women in Politics Course
The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI), based in Canberra, Australia, is now accepting nominations for its 2010 Women in Politics course. The course, which is held annually to build the capacity of women and men from the Asia-Pacific region working toward improving the representation of women at all levels of public office and politics, will be held November 24 to December 2 in Canberra. It is particularly designed for women intending to enter national politics, whether as a candidate for elected office, a political party organizer, or similar role in the democratic process. CDI particularly encourages nominations from young and upcoming female leaders in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia.    

Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
National Anti-Corruption Conference Held in Afghanistan
The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), with the Kabul-based think tank National Center for Policy Research (NCPR), held a two-day National Anti-Corruption Conference on August 3-4, 2010 in Kabul. Approximately 100 people, including religious scholars and tribal leaders from 21 provinces, parliamentarians, academics, government officials, business leaders, civil society representatives, journalists, and officials from the UN and donor community, participated in the event. The conference resulted in several recommendations to the Afghan government on actions it should take to combat corruption and called on the government to act swiftly in passing laws to address the corrosive effect corruption has on economic development, political stability, and rule of law.

Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
Jailed Kazakh Steering Committee Member Receives Andrey Sakharov Freedom Award
On August 26, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee awarded jailed Kazakh human rights defender and World Movement Steering Committee member, Yevegniy Zhovtis, with its 2010 Andrey Sakharov Freedom Award for his contributions to strengthening human rights in his home country of Kazakhstan. Bjorn Engesland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, delivered the news to Mr. Zhovtis at the prison in northeastern city of Oskemen, where Mr. Zhovtis is serving a prison term resulting from a flawed judicial process. On July 26, 2009, Mr. Zhovtis was involved in a car accident, resulting in the tragic death of a pedestrian. It is now clear to many in the international community that Kazakhstani authorities exploited this unfortunate accident to politicize the investigation and punish Mr. Zhovtis for his human rights work, evidenced by the fact that the investigation and the subsequent trial were rife with procedural violations.  Mr. Zhovtis was convicted and sentenced to serve a four-year prison term on September 3, 2009. All of his appeals have failed during a year in which Kazakhstan has chaired the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Express Solidarity with Human Rights Defenders of Swaziland
On September 7, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) issued a statement of solidarity with human rights defenders in Swaziland on the Global Day of Action. ZLHR has been monitoring developments in Swaziland and is alarmed by the serious deterioration of the human rights situation there. Violations have included arbitrary arrests, detention, and malicious prosecution of human rights defenders and the stubborn refusal to respect the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the governance of their own country. ZLHR believes the government of Swaziland is intentionally disrupting organized activities and deterring human rights defenders from pursuing their legitimate activities. ZLHR is calls on the government to immediately expand the democratic space for civil society and to respect the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.
New Tactics to Host Online Dialogue on the Risks of Human Rights Work
On September 22-28, New Tactics in Human Rights will host “Self-Care for Activists: Sustaining Your Most Valuable Resource,” an online dialogue that will address and define the risks of human rights work, specifically, compassion fatigue, burnout, secondary and vicarious trauma, and stress. This dialogue will be a space to share resources, approaches, and ideas for addressing these risks.  Anyone who works in the field of human rights is invited to join.
Human Rights House Network to Hold Conference in Lithuania
On September 24, the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) hosts an Human Rights Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, to draw attention to the situation of human rights defenders and human rights trends identified in Belarus and the Baltic states. The conference will be attended by some 70 human rights defenders from Belarus and some 80 other participants from the Baltic states and the four HRHN regions of priority: the Western Balkans, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, East and Horn of Africa, and Western Europe. International human rights NGOs and intergovernmental organizations will also attend. Coincidentally, Lithuania now chairs the Community of Democracies (CD) and will host the next CD Ministerial meeting in July 2011.
For more information, contact:
Odhikar Issues Human Rights Report for Bangladesh
Odhikar, an NGO based in Bangladesh, recently issued a human rights report for the month of August 2010. The report chronicles human rights violations and relevant news that occurred throughout Bangladesh. In the month of August, there were several arrests of trade union workers and activists, police action against civil society meetings, attacks on religious minorities, and continued political violence.

Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
Center for International Media Assistance Launches New Web Site
In September, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) announced the launch of its newly redesigned Web site. In addition to providing access to all of CIMA's reports and events, the site has several new useful features. “What is Media Development?” explores key concepts related to media development: Community Radio, Digital Media, Funding, the Legal Environment, Media for Development, Media Literacy, Professionalization, and Sustainability. CIMA has also compiled data on the media in developing countries around the world in “Country Profiles,” drawn primarily from IREX's Media Sustainability Index, Freedom House's Freedom of the Press index, and Reporters Without Borders's Press Freedom Index. Also available on the new Web site is a list of relevant media organizations, as well as Daily Media News, which features stories related to international media development.
Veritas Global Now Available in English
Veritas Global, a social networking portal that features information on various topics, including human rights, freedom of speech, and politics in Central Asia and the United States, is now available in English. The site provides several sources on each topic and provides articles, photo galleries, and videos. The site is also available in Russian.
For the English site, go to:
For the Russian site, go to:

Political Parties & Political Leadership
Centre for Democratic Institutions Holds Political Party Development Course
On June 7-18, the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI), based in Canberra, Australia, held its Political Party Development course. The course was designed to provide senior political party officials from the South-East Asia – South Pacific region with the skills to strengthen their parties and party systems, with the objectives of improved governance and more stable democracies. Eighteen participants from six countries attended the course, the majority of them hold senior positions in their respective parties. The course also included specific sessions on women in politics and meetings with senior women parliamentarians with a focus on how Australia’s main parties encourage women’s involvement.

Tolerance & Religious Freedom
CIVICUS Expresses Concern for Uzbek Refugees in Kazakhstan
On September 8, CIVICUS issued an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan expressing concern for the imminent decision on whether to extradite 30 Uzbek refugees to their country of origin. All 30 refugees and asylum seekers are observant Muslims who have peacefully worshipped outside state-approved mosques in Uzbekistan. They all fled Uzbekistan due to fear of persecution for their religious beliefs. They now face extradition from Kazakhstan on charges of membership in illegal or extremist groups, or attempts to overthrow the state. CIVICUS asserts that violations of freedom of religion, association, and expression are systematic in Uzbekistan, and that charges of extremism and terrorism are often used to suppress independent thought, belief, and expression in the country. CIVICUS urges the government of Kazakhstan not to return the 30 refugees to Uzbekistan, where they would face the risk of mistreatment. Over 150 individuals have signed this letter
New Report: "Broken Promises: Freedom of Religion or Belief issues in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan"
On July 14, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Forum 18 News Service, Norwegian Mission to the East, the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, and the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief collaborated to release a report entitled "Broken Promises: Freedom of Religion or Belief issues in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan."  The report documents violations of religious freedom by Kazakhstan, the current Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as violations by Kyrgyzstan, which have made the current situation of increased violence and ethnic tensions hard to resolve peacefully. When launching the report, the five organizations called on Kazakhstan, as current chair of the OSCE, to take concrete steps to keep the promises it made on the eve of the chairmanship. The authors of the report also call on Kyrgyzstan, as a participating member of the OSCE, to implement their commitments to seek and implement alternatives to repressive state actions. The report is available in English and Russian.

Young People’s Political & Civic Participation
Global Conference of the International Association for National Youth Service to Be Held in Egypt
The 9th Global Conference of the International Association for National Youth Service will be held on October 25-28, in Alexandria, Egypt. The conference will bring together youth service leaders, practitioners, and policy makers from around the world to exchange information and gain new insights in the field of youth service.  Participants will include professionals in youth civic engagement from across the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region and from around the world, along with youth participants from diverse service programs.

World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue