Posts Tagged ‘referendum’

Dreams about a referendum to end the mullahs’ regime in Iran?

February 13, 2018

 on 13 February, 2018 carries an article: “Calls in Iran for UN-Sponsored Referendum

Nobel Peace Prize-winning Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi. (AFP)

Following calls by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to hold a popular referendum to end political gridlock within the country, 15 prominent human rights defenders and activists from several groups issued Monday a statement demanding that a referendum indeed be held in the country , but adding that it should be done under the sponsorship of the United Nations. [Rouhani had originally made the proposal to hold a popular referendum during a speech marking the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on Sunday.]

One of the signatories, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the activists’ statement is an answer to the popular demands and calls voiced by demonstrators in the last protests that erupted across Iran against the dire internal situation “Iranians want to peacefully transfer authority from a Wilayet el-Faqih regime to a secular parliamentary democratic system,” she said. The activists’ statement had accused the authority of exploiting religion, hiding behind religious concepts, ignoring public opinion, violating people’s rights and freedoms and being greatly incapable of solving the political, social and economic crises in the country. However, Ebadi said that the activists’ statement was “independent” from the president’s speech.

She said that the 15 activists who signed the statement include Iranian film directors Jafar Panahi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, lawyer Nisreen Stouda, of Iran’s Human Rights Defenders Center in Tehran, lawyer Narges Mohammadi, political activist Hassan Shariatmadari, political figure Abulfadl Qadiani and human rights activist Mohammad Nourizad.

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Interesting to note is that at the same time there was a conference in Tehran (as reported by the Tehran Times) in which Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary of the High Council for Human Rights  in Iran, has said that Iran is seeking close cooperation with the United Nations on issues related to human rights. “Islamic Republic is willing to work with international HR bodies, especially Human Rights Council,” Larijani told the conference attended by a number of foreign diplomats based in Tehran.

According to the newspaper ..”Double standards and selective approaches should be avoided in the area of the human rights. The special rapporteurs are obliged to be professional and neutral and avoid their political motivations affect their mission. Unfortunately, the special rapporteurs to Iran have mostly refrained to respect these principles and made claims far from realities. The special rapporteurs should have methodology and should not simply publish what they receive from unreliable sources. There are impediments to hold a constructive talks on the issue of human rights at the international level. The first impediment is double standards which are destructive. The second is using the human rights as tool to reach political motivations and the third is terrorism and supporting terrorists as defenders of human rights.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/02/larijani-brothers-iran-attack-un-rapporteur-and-human-rights-defenders/

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1173806/calls-iran-un-sponsored-referendum
http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/421204/Tehran-says-seeking-co-op-with-UN-on-human-rights

Nobel Peace Prize 2016 has strong peace content

October 8, 2016

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 is very much a traditional and clear ‘peace’ award. The news can be found in all mainstream media. So for the record, and in the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end…” That the referendum rejected the proposal does not diminish the serious effort made (and perhaps shows the risk of calling referendums where ‘anger’ of different kinds tends to favor any response that has a NO element in it).

For last year’s see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/more-on-the-tunisian-winners-of-the-nobel-peace-prize/

Source: The Nobel Peace Prize 2016 – Press Release

Azerbaijan: constitutional referendum on 26 September will surely pass but not the human rights muster

September 24, 2016

Michel Forst (right), the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, addressing reporters in Baku on September 22.
Michel Forst (right), the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (right), addressing reporters in Baku on 22 September 2016.
Michel Forst, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said on 22 September 2016 that Azerbaijani authorities have applied crippling pressure to journalists and rights activists critical of the government, and made it virtually impossible for nongovernmental organizations to operate. “Civil society has been paralyzed as a result of such intense pressure,” Forst said as he wrapped up a nine-day visit to the South Caucasus nation to assess the situation. Observing that most of the recommendations by the international and regional human rights mechanisms have yet to be implemented by the Government of Azerbaijan, Mr Forst strongly called for establishing a mechanism that would result in a plan of action to implement those outstanding recommendations. He urged the Government to “to build bridges with civil society organizations, and to establish a regular and meaningful dialogue with human rights defenders, ensuring broad and inclusive participation. I believe such dialogue and partnership is ultimately in the interest of the Azerbaijani State”. [for the full end of mission statement see: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20544&LangID=E
Human rights defenders have been accused by public officials to be a fifth column of the Western governments, or foreign agents, which has led to misperception in the population of the truly valuable role played by civil society,” Forst added.
He was served immediately by Azerbaijani MP and editor-in-chief of the New Azerbaijan newspaper, Hikmat Babaoghlu, who told APA that “the Western imperialism has launched an attack on Azerbaijan with its entire network, which includes radical opposition groups, numerous local and international “civil society instructions” and “human rights defenders”. All these are taking place before the eyes of the Azerbaijani people, who are well aware of what is happening. Therefore, the destructive plan of imperialist centers will never succeed in Azerbaijan”  The main goal of the upcoming referendum is to better ensure the national security and the transition of development to a qualitatively new stage, he added. (Even more scathing is a piece written by Elmira Tariverdiyeva, the head of Trend Agency’s Russian news service – see link below.)
Forst’s report indeed comes just days ahead of a referendum (26 September) on changes to Azerbaijan’s constitution that critics say will tighten Aliyev’s grip on power, which he has held since 2003. The proposed amendments to the Constitution would further strengthen the already powerful president, including a longer presidential term, the authority to declare early presidential elections at will and dissolve parliament. The amendments will also lead to violations of the right to freedom of association. While in practice, public assemblies have already been prohibited in central Baku, the proposed amendments will grant the government even more power to interfere with the freedom of assembly in violation of international standards. The Council of Europe experts said on September 20 that the proposed changes would severely upset the balance of power and give “unprecedented” control to the president. (The head of the legal department in Aliyev’s administration called that assessment “hasty” and “politically driven.”)

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Zimbabwe: Human Rights Defenders hunted through the criminal process in run up to referendum

March 9, 2013

Jestina Mukoko with letters from Amnesty International members

(Jestina Mukoko with letters from AI members © Amnesty International)

15 Zimbabwean Civil Society Organizations, on 9 March 2013 issued a joint statement condemning the sustained and escalating assault on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in civic education, human rights monitoring, public outreach and service provision by the State. The cite as the latest example the charging of Jestina Mukoko on which AI issued a separate alert on 8 March:  “Prominent Zimbabwe human rights defender hunted down through the media”.
The criminalization of the work of civil society by the Government of National Unity is in direct contradiction with the letter and Spirit of the Global Political Agreement. It appears to us that the persecution of Jestina, who is not at anytime a fugitive from justice, is a direct victimization of an individual, who has been a victim of abduction by State security agents. State actions against Jestina were condemned by the Supreme Court and her prosecution quashed. Read the rest of this entry »

Zimbabwe: Death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa

February 4, 2013

The pressure on human rights defenders in Zimbabwe is building in the run up to the referendum. Here is in short what happened to the leaders of two civil society organisations:

On 31 January 2013, approximately one hundred persons attended the community meeting organised by ZOYP (Zimbabwe Organization For Youth In Politics)  and CCDZ (Centre for Conflict Development in Zimbabwe) in the Mbizo Youth Centre in Kwekwe to discuss developments in the drafting of the country’s new Constitution, including the bill of rights, before the draft is put to a referendum. During the meeting, which had been sanctioned by local police under the Public Order and Security Act, an armed group of hundreds of youths, reportedly affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF and who identify themselves as “Al Shabab”, violently disrupted the meeting and threatened the participants. [ The youths were reportedly transported to the venue by bus by ZANU PF Chairman of Mbizo, and were dressed in overalls with President Mugabe’s face at the back. The youths carried heavy sticks and sang ZANU PF slogans and songs about President Mugabe, stating that whoever tries to question the President “will die like a dog”.] Human rights newsletters, cameras and other materials were stolen. Police did not intervene to ensure the safety of participants, who fled the meeting in fear of their lives. Organisers of the meeting, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were targeted and threatened with death by the youths, who told them that their human rights activism was an attempt to “change the regime” and that the ZANU PF-led government will eliminate them if they continued to organise similar meetings in Kwekwe.

Following threats from the youths to follow them home and fearing for their safety, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa (heads of ZOYP and CCDZ respectively) went into hiding and have not been able to return to their regular activities. They subsequently submitted a complaint to police. To date, no investigation has been initiated by police.

On 2 February 2013, Mr Nkosilathi Moyo and Mr Jasper Maposa, were subjected to threats to drop the charges. Around 11am, Nkosilathi Moyo received a phone call from an unidentified number threatening him and Jasper Maposa to drop the charges at the police. Later in the same day, around 3pm, Jasper Maposa received another call from an unidentified number, renewing earlier threats and saying he was “fighting a losing battle.”

By the way, Al Shabab in early January 2013 has already stated that no civil society organisation or human rights defender would be allowed to operate in Kwekwe as they were “agents of regime change”. ZOYP has been subjected to previous acts of intimidation and harassment. One such example is a human rights defenders’ youth meeting, which was organised by ZOYP and held in Kwekwe Theatre on 16 November 2011. Although the meeting had been permitted by police, police and ZANU PF youths reportedly disrupted the meeting and presented ZOYP Director Nkosilathi Moyo with a trumped-up charge of defaming the state. Nkosilathi Moyo was subsequently sentenced to six months in prison. Furthermore, the offices of the organisation were raided in July 2011 and computers stolen. During the incident, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were beaten and went into hiding. On 11 July 2011, a meeting organised with former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray, and young human rights defenders in Kwekwe was violently disrupted by Al Shabab, with the US envoy and ZOYP members fleeing for their lives.

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the threatening phone calls against Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa and expresses grave concern at the failure of police to intervene and fulfil its duties to provide protection to the meeting’s participants.