At the PvdA-congres, the FMS organised a fringe meeting, where human rights activists from countries as Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Egypt and Armenia gave country specific updates. A lot is happening in these countries, things that often do not make it into Dutch news. With this meeting, the FMS gave these human rights activists the chance to give their insights and to answer the many questions from the audience.
On 23 November Vice Versa, together with ActionAid, Both Ends, Partos, De Nieuwe Liefde and Pax, organised De Nacht van de Tegenmacht (The night of countervailing power), dedicated to peaceful resistance of courageous citizens all over the world. The event brought together musicians, activists, politicians and journalists from Netherlands, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Suriname. The program was very intense: featuring speakers, a talk show, columns, music, interactive sessions (Power to the People! Civic power in the global South; Populism café and Journalism & Civic Power), as well as exhibitions of organisations and short movies.
On 11 December Macedonia held early parliamentary elections, which were supposed to resolve a two-year political instability. Results of the two main parties are more or less 1% away from each other, with 99.72% of the votes counted: ruling nationalist VMRO DPMNE gained 38% and the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) – 36.7% according to the Central Election Commission. Both parties declared victory and are looking for coalition partners. They are most likely to reach out to ethnic Albanian minority for support. Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) got 7.3%, which could bring 9-11 seats. Newly formed BESA party has 4.87%, which might result in 5 seats. DPA-led – Movement for Reforms acquired 2.95% - potential 3 seats. Democratic Party of Albanians alone received 2,61%, which could mean not more than 2 seats. The voter turnout was 67% - one of the highest in recent general elections.
On 30 November De Balie in Amsterdam invited Zhanna Nemtsova, journalist at Deutsche Welle and daughter of Boris Nemtsov – a Russian liberal oppositional politician who was assassinated on 27 February 2015 – to give a freedom lecture. Nemtsova spoke about her father, propaganda in Russia and the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom. The event, moderated by Kirsten van den Hul, also featured discussions with PvdA Member of Parliament Michiel Servaes and the Insideout documentary team, Masha Ru and Katia Krupennikova.
Afgelopen weekend organiseerden we een campagnetraining voor jongeren van de Democratische Partij in Moldavië. Er zijn in het land kort geleden presidentsverkiezingen geweest die teleurstellen verliepen voor de partij, en dus willen ze zich nu concentreren op het opleiden van de jongeren generatie politici.
On 14 November, Foundation Max van der Stoel had the honour to meet Azeri dissidents and human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus. It has been one year since Arif was released from prison in Azerbaijan, on 12 November 2015, and FMS asked Leyla and Arif about their story and views on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plans for the future.
After a former KGB general Heydar Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan in 1993 – political repressions started. In 2003 the father was followed by his son, Ilham Aliev and repressions against dissidents became systematic. Human rights defenders of Azerbaijan regularly compose lists of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Among them – Leyla and Arif Yunus, a couple of Azeri dissidents and human rights activists, who are now refugees in the Netherlands.
The book "Background to the crisis in Syria and perspectives on human rights & humanitarian law violations" of Yana Ballod (intern for Democracy at Foundation Max van der Stoel) has recently been published by Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP). This book is a result of an effort to gather all the pieces of the crisis in Syria together. This to provide a clear picture of what has been happening and what are the legal implications to it. Besides, it expresses frustration with the currently existing system of international decision-making and impotence when it comes to fulfilling its most important function: protecting human lives and dignity.
Nu de Roemeense parlementsverkiezingen naderen (11 december) is het extra belangrijk hoe de houding van de belangrijkste partijen tegenover Rusland is. Poetin wil zijn invloedssfeer uitbreiden. Wordt hij door Roemeense politici verwelkomd? De publieke opinie in Roemenië is overwegend anti-Poetin. Maar het is toch spannend waar dit naartoe gaat. Als Rusland geld blijft pompen in propaganda, als de EU blijft teleurstellen en de VS zich onder Trump minder bekommert om de regio, dan kunnen er invloedrijke politici overlopen naar Poetin. En dan kunnen ook de burgers gaan denken: beter een goeie buur dan een verre vriend.