Saturday, September 19, 2009

Theary Seng learned about the govt action to remove her from the CSD leadership while attending the Lisbon Meeting of the Community of Democracies

July 23, 2009
International Civil Society Leaders Meet at Lisbon Ministerial of Community of Democracies

Nearly 80 democracy and human rights activists from around the world met in Lisbon, Portugal from July 10-12 in conjunction with the Fifth Ministerial of the Community of Democracies (CD) to discuss with governments the ways in which civil society and democratic governments can work together to promote democratic development. Citing the need to maintain support for democratic values through the current economic and financial crisis, nongovernmental leaders urged governments to pay greater attention to recent trends curtailing the rights of civil society and voiced their solidarity with democratic activists who are currently the targets of increasingly innovative and sometimes violent repression.

Welcoming the opportunity to consult with governmental representatives in the global forum provided by the CD, civil society leaders nonetheless expressed their concern at the presence in Lisbon of many governments that fall short of meeting the standards outlined in the CD’s founding document, the Warsaw Declaration. In a statement endorsed by the NGO participants in Lisbon, the invitations of 28 countries were identified as being at odds with the recommendations of the International Advisory Council, which issued an April report to the CD on invitations to Lisbon. They said that “the fact that all of these deviations are in the direction of giving a more favorable status to the governments in question – notably on Angola, Egypt, Iraq, Nicaragua, and Russia – indicates a trend of declining standards.”

NGO participants also detailed recent actions by governments to restrict the rights of civil society. Leading democracy scholar Larry Diamond of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University described the emergence of an authoritarian backlash that is becoming more sophisticated. Many present testified to this backlash, including Cambodian human rights activist Theary Seng, who learned upon arrival to Lisbon that the Cambodian government had taken action to remove her from her leadership of the Center for Social Development in Phnom Penh, and the prominent Egyptian activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who continues to face the threat of arrest in his home country for defamation of the government. Dr. Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party was not present, instead represented by attorney Robert Amsterdam, as Dr. Chee was prevented from attending by the Singaporean government.

NGO leaders present endorsed a statement on Iran, calling for the respect of rights of assembly, association, and expression for Iran’s people as guaranteed under Iran’s constitution and expressing solidarity with the Iranian people in their “indigenous struggle to achieve democracy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.”

Articulating a series of opportunities for strengthening the capacity of the CD to support democracy, including through partnership between governments and civil society, the nongovernmental International Steering Committee of the CD (ISC/CD) expressed its hopes that through a planned tenth anniversary meeting in 2010 and the chairmanship of the Lithuanian government following the Lisbon Ministerial, the CD will assume a more active role protecting and promoting democratic values throughout the world.

Contact: Robert R. LaGamma
President, Council for a Community of Democracies

Secretariat of the nongovernmental International Steering Committee of the CD
Phone: +1 202 789 9771 | Fax: +1 202 789 9764

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Government of evils is the government that does not like "democracy". If real democracy takes root in this government, the evil doers like Hun Sen and all his criminal clique will lose their gribs on absolute power. If their absolute power slip away, the evil doers will become criminals. If they become criminals, they must face trial and be punished.