BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Troubles in Transnistria: Why not a referendum to decide the issue?
HITS: 13276 | 19-02-2008, 15:39 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , PR and human rights, World health

The West and its surrogate agencies have shown themselves resolutely uninterested in the conduct of elections in Transnistria. After a month of impasse on the PMR-Ukrainian border, the OSCE in Vienna announced that it would not recognise the results of any referendum held in Transnistria to allow the local population to express its opinion on its fate.[1]
Igor Smirnov has been president of the breakaway region since 1990. During an interview with BHHRG he pointed out wearily how often the West – the “international community” as it calls itself - has ignored elections in Transnistria or prejudged them. Last December’s parliamentary elections had been won by the opposition but the West still denies legitimacy to such polls even though it accepts, for instance, that Montenegro’s Milo Djukanović has held power as premier or president or now again premier for almost 17 years. Despite the fact that the West has been happy to accept the disintegration of both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, it remains strangely fixated on preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the post-Soviet states whose claim to political legitimacy is often shaky to put it mildly.[2]

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Sex and the Peacekeepers, or the Who, Whom? of Human Trafficking
HITS: 9745 | 19-02-2008, 15:30 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , PR and human rights, Analyzing

Any adult knows that it takes two for prostitution to exist. There must be a client as well as a whore. Forced prostitution requires three participants: the passive women, the man who pays, and the pimp who cashes in on his girl’s subjection to another man’s desires. Prostitution, forced or voluntary, depends as with any other product, legal or illicit, for demand to foster supply. Where is the market for sex slaves from Moldova, Ukraine or even Transnistria?
Although US, EU and OSCE mediators and monitors wax indignant about the alleged human trafficking via Transnistria, they are remarkably reticent about where the women and girls forced into prostitution are obliged to work as sex-slaves. The answer is that they are overwhelmingly deployed to satisfy the sexual needs of US, EU and OSCE personnel and soldiers in Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia. If the West had not intervened in the Balkans and deployed tens of thousands of mainly male personnel to control the region, the sex trade would not exist there to remotely the degree that it has boomed since 1995. Such is the poverty of most local men in the Balkans that even if they wished to exploit Moldovan or Ukrainian girls and women they could not afford to.

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Is the West helping to thaw or re-ignite a "frozen conflict"?
HITS: 9464 | 19-02-2008, 14:15 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , PR and human rights, Analyzing

Transnistrians protest against the economic blockade imposed by Ukraine in March 2006 Across the former Soviet Union, the status of four unrecognised states with de facto independence has remained unsolved since 1991. Three of these so-called “frozen conflicts” – Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are in the Caucasus, close to oil and gas pipelines. Each has a friendly neighbour – Armenia for Karabakh, Russia for Abkhazia and South Ossetia – which inhibits attack by the nominal sovereign, Azerbaijan or Georgia. The fourth unrecognised state, Transnistria, is sandwiched between its sovereign claimant Moldova and Ukraine. Since March, 2006, Moldova and Ukraine, backed by the EU and United States have tried to bring rebel Transnistria to its knees with a de facto blockade. Western analysts, who have backed secessionist movements in the Balkans have demanded the enforcement of Moldova’s sovereignty - until now.

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Kosovo 2002: Guantanamo bay in the Balkans
HITS: 9715 | 13-03-2007, 08:19 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , Analyzing, War and peace

This report was first published in January, 2002. Nearly, four years later, the issue of CIA renditions to European countries where suspects are possibly tortured is being investigated. As Le Monde quoted BHHRG's 2002 report in an article published on 25th November, June: "<…> "prison secrète" américaine a existé dans un camp de l'OTAN au Kosovo ... existence" we are reprinting the report. Also, published is BHHRG's Mark Almond's February, 2002 New Statesman article "Nightmare at Camp Bondsteel".

Introduction

The international community, which governs the former Yugoslav province of Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina, bases its legitimacy on the concept of the rule of law. On 12th February 2002, indeed, the trial began in The Hague of the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic. This trial is intended to embody the way in which the international community is working towards the realization of the rule of law in the Balkans in particular and in international affairs on a global scale.

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The Referendum in Montenegro and its Aftermath
HITS: 2579 | 12-01-2007, 16:56 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Montenegro , Elections, Analyzing

The BHHRG observers visited 7 polling stations in Virpazar, Bar, Sveti Stefan and Kotor. The atmosphere between the evenly-balanced memberships of the individual election commissions was relaxed. Everywhere three pro- and three anti-independence commissioners were present. Queues were witnessed early in the day but by late afternoon the flow of voters had become a trickle. Although the members of the electoral commissions expressed no doubts about the proper conduct of the poll in their own stations, unionist members made complaints about the one-sided nature of the referendum campaign and the local media coverage of it.
Shortly after voting ended at 21.00 exit polls were read out on TVCG giving victory to the ‘yes’ campaign. Leaving aside the fact that BHHRG had seen no evidence of any exit polls during 21st May, it seemed out-of-order for the Montenegrin public to receive the projected results from two NGOs – Cesid and CTD rather than from the Republican Referendum Commission. Appropriately, a list of their foreign ‘donors’ appeared on a screen behind the presenters. Immediately, the ‘Yes’ campaign started to celebrate its anticipated victory.

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Belarus: Brokeback Revolution - the Candidates (Continuation)
HITS: 2193 | 10-02-2006, 17:56 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Belarus, Political leaders, Analyzing

Three candidates challenged the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, for the presidency. Sergei Gaidukevich (who had stood previously in 2001), former Minsk University rector Alexander Kozulin and Alexander Milinkevich. However, local oppositionists and the Western media gave the impression that Milinkevich was the only opposition candidate always dubbing him the ‘united’ opposition candidate. Therefore, is was perplexing to many people who told BHHRG that they had never heard of Mr. Milinkevich before he put forward his candidacy for the top job.

Milinkevich: The Jack-in-a-box Candidate?

Visiting the headquarters of the Belarussian Popular Front three weeks before the poll this Group’s observers found the activists busy preparing to distribute campaign literature and free newspapers (like Narodnaya Volya) on behalf of Alexander Milinkevich remarkably ill-informed about his past and personality. Repeatedly, they replied to questions about what they knew about Dr. Milinkevich with stock replies like “He is the candidate of the unified opposition” and could not explain what personal qualities or aspects of his career had led the “unified opposition” to choose him.

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Belarus Today: Evolution versus Market-Fundamentalism (Continuation)
HITS: 2545 | 10-02-2006, 17:21 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Belarus, Politics, Analyzing

“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”

Lewis Carroll[1]

Shock therapy has produced the greatest peacetime man-made social and economic disaster since Stalin’s collectivisation of agriculture in those ex-Communist countries which adopted the siren schemes proposed by Jeffrey Sachs et al. of the Harvard school. Yet, instead of rewarding Alexander Lukashenko’s instinctive revulsion for inflicting penury on his people to benefit a small class of nouveaux riches emerging from the Communist nomenklatura and their Western partners, the West has poured forth venom on the regime in Belarus which refused to rob its own pensioners and sell its daughters into prostitution or send its graduates to be plumbers in the West.

A lady stall holder shows here wares in the Zhdanovichi market outside Minsk 

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Foreign Policy: turning up the heat on several fronts
HITS: 5649 | 10-01-2006, 02:06 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Poland , Political science, Political leaders, Analyzing

Perhaps the PiS government’s most significant appointment so far is that of Radek Sikorski as Minister of Defence. Sikorski has been based in the UK and US almost continually since 1982 although he was, briefly, a deputy foreign minister and deputy defence minister between 1992-3 in the first post-Solidarity government. Although he bought a country house in Poland in the last years of Communism[1], Sikorski’s journalistic and think-tank career was primarily British and then Washington-based. However, he returned to contest a seat in the Senate in the 2005 elections which he won with over 76,0000 votes, a significant level of support even though he must be something of an unknown quantity at local level in Poland.
Mr. Sikorski is, however, no stranger to the power elite in Washington, where he was Executive - Director of the New Atlantic Initiative, an arm of the neo-con American Enterprise Institute, (AEI) from 2002 until the eve of the polls in 2005. During that time he has chaired numerous appearances by and conferences with some of the United States closest allies and supporters. Many ex- Communist turncoats who have found it highly profitable to switch their allegiance from Big Brother in the Kremlin to pay obeisance to an even more powerful and wealthy patron in Washington have been hosted at the AEI, where naïve (or cynical)?

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Georgia 2005: Law and Disorder
HITS: 2223 | 21-12-2005, 23:35 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Georgia , Analyzing, Global Events

Attacks on the Judiciary

The legal system in Georgia has been tinkered with on numerous occasions since independence. In 1999 a new system of exams was introduced which had to be taken by both new and serving judges. Judges told BHHRG at the time that this was a way of sacking people who offended the government.
Perhaps, observers assumed that Mikheil Saakashvili’s legal training would impact positively on the rule of law, but, according to observers: “The level of justice has seriously deteriorated since the rose revolution”. Lawyers told BHHRG that Sakkashvili knew nothing about the nuts and bolts of Georgian law - his courses in the US were most likely the typical, content-less melange of ‘modules’ in subjects like human rights and international justice.

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Georgia post rose revolution government: mixed revues
HITS: 2460 | 21-12-2005, 23:20 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Georgia , Analyzing, Global Events

The new presidential palace in Tbilisi now under construction

“For the first time in our history, our police have discovered you don’t have to torture people to keep crime in check” [Mikheil Saakashvili, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 9th March, 2005].

Police reform: This is hailed as one of Saakashvili’s success stories. The president’s admirers point to the abolition of the traffic cops and their replacement by a new patrol police as one of his major achievements since coming to office. Since then, it is claimed, the practice of regularly stopping motorists for bribes has ceased and the force is able to do more useful work. The police are properly paid (400-500 lari per month), new Volkswagen Passats have been donated and officers wear smart, American-style uniforms. In the process “16,000 good for nothing, corrupt policemen were fired”, according to former Minister of the Interior, Irakli Okruashvili.[1] Only 15% of former police officers remained in the force. This meant that if only some of these men had families, at least 34,000 people were deprived of a bread winner - something that obviously left Mr. Okruashvili and his associates untroubled.

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