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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Black Roses - Georgia's Reformers Fall Out
HITS: 31056 | 20-02-2008, 05:03 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Georgia , Political leaders

Exactly four years after the so-called Rose Revolution, the two key leaders of Georgia's People Power revolution are at each other's throats.

Georgia has made stunning progress in carrying out substantial economic, judicial and state reforms… that should allow Georgia to become a prosperous liberal market economy and a fully-fledged democracy governed by human rights and the rule of law. Georgia has set an example for the whole region and beyond.”
Council of Europe reporters Matyas Eorsi & Kastriot Islami
(13 September 2007)[1]

" The style of Saakashvili’s governance … has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”
Ex-Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili in Tbilisi
(25th September, 2007)[2]

On Friday 2nd November, 2007, the centre of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, was occupied a huge crowd demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.[3] It was exactly four years since Saakashvili had cried foul about Georgia’s parliamentary elections and set in train the protests which brought him to power on 23rd November, 2003.

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Armenia Parliamentary Elections Briefing
HITS: 9902 | 22-08-2007, 04:00 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Armenia, Elections

Sandwiched between Iran and Turkey close to the trans-Caucasus oil pipeline, Armenia is at a sensitive geostrategic crossroads. Will Parliamentary elections trigger another colour-coded revolution?

Parliamentary Elections Briefing
Introduction

Even before Armenians went to the polls on 12th May, 2007, for parliamentary elections, the political atmosphere had become heated with accusations from the opposition and allied NGOs that the government was planning to rig the outcome while the government accused opposition leaders of treasonable behaviour. A week before the vote, the police arrested the last foreign minister of the former President Levon Ter-Petrossian accusing him of money-laundering, while the opposition countered that a prominent pro-government party leader and magnate was buying votes by funding charitable activities. Threats of mass demonstrations against President Robert Kocharian if his parliamentary allies won the elections – as opinion polls predicted – raised the spectre of another “People Power” revolution in the former Soviet Union.

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Events in Andijan: Conclusions
HITS: 2056 | 24-08-2005, 12:01 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Uzbekistan , PR and human rights, Politics

The violent events in Andijan and other parts of Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley on 13th May, 2005, attracted worldwide attention. Unfortunately the intensity of the media coverage was not matched by impartial reporting. As in a number of cases over the last 15 years since the Romanian Revolution in 1989, rumours were reported as fact and the more grisly the allegation the more widely it was disseminated. Pundits repeated allegations of dubious origin. Opposition supporters were presented as journalists or experts rather than partisans. Whatever the faults of the government of President Karimov and its forces’ responsibility for casualties on 13th May, the widespread failure of Western media to report a violent jailbreak, the murder of prisoners by insurgents and their use of prisoners as human shields and hostages left foreigners with a one-sided impression of what happened and why it happened.

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The Timisoara[1] Syndrome and the Modern Media
HITS: 5241 | 24-08-2005, 00:02 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Uzbekistan , Media World, PR and human rights

Much of the reportage about Uzbekistan recalls previous media “beat ups” when excitement and shock combined to make plausible what turned out afterwards to be wildly exaggerated accounts of violence and cruelty. The contemporary stereotype for this media syndrome originated in 1989 when reports emerged of demonstrations against the Ceausescu regime in Timisoara in south-western Romania. Considering what happened in Romania in December, 1989, helps to focus understanding of the problems of reporting protests from a safe distance with moralising blinkers. Timisoara was the birthplace of the media myth of genocide in the post-Communist period. Like many myths had some basis in fact but took on a life of its own.
As news filtered out that demonstrations were taking place in Timisoara after 16th December, 1989, reports of the savagery of the infamous Romanian secret police, the Securitate, soon filled Western media.

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Triumph of the elites in the Czech Republic..?
HITS: 2129 | 14-04-2005, 04:46 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Czech Republic , Political science

Since the so-called ‘velvet revolution’ in 1989, politics in the Czech Republic has been governed – some would say overshadowed – by two competing and, ultimately, incompatible interests. On one side are formal political parties, while on the other stand proponents of a system of anti-politics which advocates something called ‘civil society’ where policy emanates, almost mysteriously, from citizens’ groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While masquerading as a form of benevolent populism, critics view these ideas as akin to the classic Gramscian notion of ‘hegemony’ whereby society is governed by powerful elites - the opposite, in fact, of people power.

A network of such elites including journalists, academics and businessmen has grown ever more powerful in the Czech Republic over the past ten years, their centre of gravity being the internationally revered Czech president, Václav Havel. Havel has long been  the leading exponent of ‘civic society’, regularly criticizing politicians for their venality and corruption. The Czech president is the most visible example of the Communist-era dissident turned politician.

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Macedonia: Re-districting or partition?
HITS: 1992 | 7-01-2005, 20:48 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Macedonia , PR and human rights

Macedonia’s current local government legislation dates back to 1996 when the current president Branko Crvenkovski was prime minister of an SDSM-led government. Then the current main opposition party, VMRO-DPME, opposed the changes. Each big Macedonian party has reversed its position on local government and this, no doubt, contributes to cynicism among ordinary Macedonian citizens of all ethnicities.
The Ohrid Agreement and Euro-Atlantic integration are invariably cited as the main reason for changing the 1996 arrangements with subsidiary emphasis on the changes alleged benefits to local people and local government finances and services.
Although re-districting had been an issue hovering in the background of post-Ohrid Macedonian politics it only really took off as an issue from early 2004. By mid-summer widespread protests and referendums in 41 localities (not all ethnically mixed) had expressed opposition to proposed changes.

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