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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Moldova – the failed state as pro-Western model
HITS: 12726 | 19-02-2008, 15:14 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , Political science, Political leaders
The economic and social implosion of Moldova since 1991 is routinely blamed on Transnistria but according to all the Western reform models promoting “shock therapy” the loss of the heavily industrial part of the country should have been pure gain for the rest of Moldova. According to the post-Communist market dogmatists industry was a handicap to prosperity and the sooner smokestacks ceased to pollute the higher the standard of living would be. Under successive governments since 1991 Moldova to the west of the Dniestr has followed the nostrums of “shock therapy” to the letter and its population has endured a catastrophic fall in its standard of living, mass emigration and the humiliation of seeking economic salvation in prostitution or the sale of body parts. It is an index of Moldova’s industrial and social collapse that it no longer buys electricity from the Transnistrian power plant which used to supply it. Despite its favourable reputation among Western “experts” as a model of economic reform and democracy, Moldova’s political system has been repeatedly criticised at home. In the run up to the re-election of Voronin’s Communists in 2004, opposition group’s made wide-ranging charges of electoral malpractice which were dropped after Voronin made publicly supportive statements about US policy and anti-Russian jibes.
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, 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)?
Parliamentary and Presidential Elections in 2005 have brought a group of unpredictable nationalists to power On 23rd October, 2005, Warsaw mayor Lech Kaczynski was elected President of Poland, becoming Poland’s third president since 1990. Earlier, on 25th September, Kaczynski’s party, Law and Justice (PiS) gained the largest number of votes in elections for the Parliament (Sejm) and Senate, just ahead of the free market, Citizens Platform (PO). As his campaign posters proclaimed, Mr. Kaczynski’s central pledge was the creation of a Fourth Polish republic which would be founded on the country’s moral revival. The results of both elections also marked the third time that the country’s voters had veered from left to right: the outgoing Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD) minority government had been shaken for some time by corruption allegations and popular discontent with its policies which were a continuation of the broad trends set by its predecessors since the first post-Communist government in 1989.
There seems little doubt that Latvia is pursuing a nationalities policy which, if adopted anywhere else, would be the object of universal condemnation. There is effectively no criticism at all of this full-frontal assault on the established rights of a sizeable and historic population. Instead, Latvia continues to receive support for its policies. Estonia is in a similar position. There, a similar version of the same law is being introduced, albeit with a longer transitional period. BHHRG interviewed a former director of the Russian Cultural Centre in Tallinn, Arkady Prisjazny. Married to an Estonian, Prisjazny said that there was simply no dialogue between the Estonians and the Russians in Estonia. He quoted examples of aggressive anti-Russian sentiment being expressed by government officials, such as when on 29th January 2002 the new head of the secret police said that the country’s primary goal was to get rid of the “Russian spectre”.
Although their rights are under attack, Latvia's Russian minority is ignored by the international community. During the whole period of so-called democratic “transition” in Eastern Europe, minority rights have been a growth industry for international human rights activists. They have received special attention in the Balkans, where national minorities have been at the heart of international interference in the region since the treaty of Versailles. In Macedonia, in Romania and in Serbia the issue of minority rights - especially the right to education in the minority mother tongue - has frequently been at the forefront of political debate. So great is the importance attached to them, indeed, that in the case of Serbia, the changing of the school history curriculum in Kosovo in 1989 to include more Serbian history, and less of the history of neighbouring Albania, was seriously advanced as one of the casus belli for the Albanian uprising ten years later. In Macedonia, from 2000, the failure of the Macedonian state to recognise the freelance Albanian-language University of Tetovo was also used as an excuse to start an armed rebellion – a rebellion which was tolerated and perhaps even encouraged by the international community.
The New World Order’s loyal chorus let out a sigh of relief. On the day after the vote, Reuters declared, "Macedonia was a rung higher on the ladder to EU and NATO… Nudged by Washington and cajoled by Brussels, most Macedonians stayed away from the polls on a rainy Sunday, dooming what the West had viewed as a retrograde step.," The result of the referendum confirmed the tribal totalitarianism of the Albanian community in Macedonia. Whereas the ethnic Macedonian population was divided roughly in to two halves, one voting the other boycotting, the Albanians of Macedonia acted as one conformist bloc. Civil society with its pluralism and inherent splits across ethnic and religious lines seems as far away from Macedonia’s Albanians as ever.
European Values versus Euro-Atlantic power structures
HITS: 2437 | 7-01-2005, 20:56 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Macedonia , PR and human rights
The intervention of the Euro-Atlantic power structures on the side of the SDSM and DUI was hardly surprising since NATO and the EU had acted as godfathers to the political alliance between the two parties eighteen months earlier. However, critics of the re-districting plan could call European values in support of their stance. After all, had not the constitutional expert, Robert Badinter, who had endorsed Macedonia’s constitutional order as worthy of EU recognition thereby ratified the legitimacy of the referendum provisions contained in it. Why had the power-brokers in Brussels reneged on the constitutional order which had been worthy of independence from Yugoslavia then. Another problem was that as far back as 1985, the EU’s then member states had adopted a Charter on Local Government which explicitly endorsed referendums as one way in which ordinary people could express their views on proposed changes to administration in their regions. For instance, the Charter states, “Local self-government… shall be exercised by councils or assemblies composed of members freely elected by secret ballot on the basis of direct, equal, universal suffrage, and which may possess executive organs responsible to them. This provision shall in no way affect recourse to assemblies of citizens, referendums or any other form of direct citizen participation where it is permitted by statute.” [emphasis added]
Referendum on the proposed re-districting of local government units 7th November 2004
On 7th November 2004, fewer than 30% of eligible voters turned out in Macedonia’s referendum on local government re-organisation which required a minimum 50% participation. Hardly a subject to disturb the headline-writers, one might have thought. Yet Washington and Brussels worked overtime to achieve that level of apathy. The low turnout was hailed as a triumph for Euro-Atlantic values. Perhaps an invalid Balkan referendum on an obscure local issue tells us more about the New World Order than anyone might have expected.
HITS: 2802 | 18-08-2004, 22:34 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , Analyzing, War and peace
Prizren is about as far from Kosovska Mitrovica as it is possible to get in Kosovo. This south-western city of medieval Orthodox churches and Ottoman mosques was one of the worst affected parts of the province by the anti-Serb pogrom. Although Western media reports routinely attributed the March 2004 Albanian on Serb violence to a reawakening of the desire for revenge as a result of Albanian sufferings at the hands of Serb forces in 1999, the mass attack on Serbs in Prizren casts doubt on the idea of revenge as the psychological root of the violence. Contrary to common assumptions, Prizren did not suffer from brutal ethnic cleansing in the spring of 1999. Local Albanians there could not have harboured barely repressed anger against any erstwhile Serb persecutors in 1999 because the city was not the victim of ethnic cleansing. As television footage of the arrival of German troops on 12th June, 1999 revealed, large numbers of Albanians of all age groups and both sexes were in the city to welcome their liberators. Prizren survived the 78-day NATO war against Yugoslavia almost undamaged. At the outbreak of the NATO bombing campaign radical Serb nationalists blew up the League of Prizren monument in the city.
HITS: 2209 | 18-08-2004, 00:25 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , Analyzing, Global Events
On 25th May, the UN’s special representative Harri Halkeri announced his resignation. It would be unfair to pin all the blame for Kosovo’s recent problems on him. He was simply the latest in a line of international officials who have presided over the consequences of the war in 1999. The NATO states fought that war on a false premise. Their propaganda blaming the Serbs for all the region’s ills and boasting about the Alliance’s ability to restore order and prosperity to a “multi-cultural” Kosovo/a has proven entirely false. Only the fact that the Western media was so implicated in spouting the NATO line and therefore has been unwilling to revisit and question much of what it had reported has prevented Western audiences discovering how disastrous the post-1999 situation in Kosovo has been. Whereas the violent resistance in Iraq has shaken complacent support for the Bush-Blair line there, the fact that violence in Kosovo has been largely directed by the Albanian majority at the Serb and other minorities with very few KFOR casualties (and most of those caused by mutual fights or suicides) means that the Western media have not given the negative realities of Kosovo remotely the same level of coverage as Iraq has received. If Serbs, for instance, had waged guerrilla warfare against NATO forces as Iraqis have against US and others in Iraq, or as Albanians have in southern Serbia and Macedonia repeatedly since 1999, then their plight might well have been noticed and even steps taken to improve conditions for them in Kosovo.