Posts Tagged ‘western values’

Asia and human rights defenders: the shrinking space for NGOs

May 26, 2015

In a few recent posts I drew attention to the trend of shrinking space for NGOs in countries such as Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/draft-laws-on-civil-society-restrictions-also-pending-in-kyrgyzstan-and-cambodia/]. On 9 May 2015, The Economist’s column on Asia (Banyan) was devoted to the same issue, concluding that “Democratic Asian governments as well as authoritarian ones crack down on NGOs“. Under title “Who’s afraid of the activists?” it mentions China, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

It lists the usual ‘complaints’ that both authoritarian and democratic leaders use against the activities of NGOs, which range from:

  • threats to national sovereignty
  • promotion of ‘Western’ values
  • hidden agenda (such as conversion to Christianity)
  • blocking development through environmental objections.

E.g. the Indian home ministry claims that 13 billion $ in foreign money has gone to local charities over the past decade and that 13 of the top 15 donors were Christian outfits. Interestingly, similar complaints come from the biggest Indian NGO, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which itself has “strong foreign links, draws on an Indian diaspora in America and elsewhere for support, and dishes out help across borders, such as in Nepal following last month’s earthquake”.

Quite rightly the article concludes that in the long run, such limitations only rally political opponents, while (local) NGOs may face close scrutiny themselves one day (when the Government has changed hands): “Battering-rams, after all, have two ends.”

Who’s afraid of the activists? | The Economist.

‘God Loves Uganda’ shows that anti-gay campaign is western-inspired

March 22, 2014

One of the most striking aspects of the controversy surrounding the Ugandan anti-gay bill is that the Ugandan government – and quite a few media – stress the ‘african’ aspect of resisting ‘western values”. The film “God Loves Uganda” (2013) should put that argument to rest. The documentary is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

For those based in Washington there is a showing and debate on 8 April organized by Global Rights. Others will have to find it on the internet or rent it. It is worth it!

http://www.globalrights.org/events/uganda.html.

“Revolutionaries Are The Real Human Rights Defenders” at least in the view of some in Zimbabwe

April 12, 2013

Via AllAfrica.com I came across a lengthy Opinion piece in the Herald of 11 April 2013 which is basically a rant against human rights in general and human rights defenders in general. Normally I would not want to pay much attention to these outdated views but in all fairness this blog on human rights defenders should also give space to those who are diametrically and fundamentally opposed to human rights.

That the authors write from a nationalistic perspective is clear, not only from the language used and the names mentioned but also from the reference to HRD Beatrice Tele Khalalempi Mnzebele (“a shameless white apologist”) as a foreigner from…. Swaziland. Race is a constant element in the piece by equating ‘western’ and ‘white’. The rest of the terminology is reminiscent of the cold war days (‘neo-liberal prophets of democracy “), cultural relativism (“As Africans, we believe that it is the community that protects and nurtures the individual“) and slogans (“human rights are merely an instrument of Western political neo-colonialism and imperialism“). One of the most striking features is the almost total absence of alternative value systems. The closest the authors come to it is when they state: “It is therefore our argument that the value of human rights should be re-examined by affirming the differences between human beings, in acknowledging that we are all influenced by a myriad of different factors, such as our social, political, and cultural backgrounds. Human rights should be established based on the uniqueness of each and every human being, rather than on myopic neo-liberal assumptions propounded by Beatrice and her Western friends.” It contains a ringing endorsement of the uniqueness of each human being – so dear to the neo liberals – but no much more that could constitute a different overarching system. Not a word about the African Charter, about misled (?) countries such as South Africa or Ghana. Instead the opposition to Mugabe is described as: “thugs and all sorts of assorted MDC-T delinquents”.

But for those who want to read the whole piece here is the link the opinion written by Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku, who – believe it or not – are lecturers in international relations, and peace and governance with Bindura University of Science Education.