- News and Notes
4th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy
On April 2–5, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) convened its Fourth Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme was "Advancing Democracy: Justice, Pluralism, and Participation," and it brought together nearly 600 democracy activists, practitioners, trade unionists, scholars, policy makers, and others engaged in promoting democracy around the world.
In more than 50 workshops, participants discussed challenges faced by democrats across countries and regions, such as preparing for democratic breakthroughs and the challenges of consolidation; reconciling the universality of democratic principles and different cultural contexts; addressing the linkages between democracy and human development; confronting the challenges of terrorism and antiterrorism; ensuring the democratic inclusion of women and marginalized populations; and defining the advantages and disadvantages of populism and nationalism. Functional workshops enabled participants from all regions to develop strategies for networking and solidarity. Regional workshops allowed those from different areas of democracy work—including political parties, labor organizations, and NGOs—to focus on regional challenges and needs. Participants also attended a variety of skills-sharing and capacity-building workshops, as well as a Democracy Fair.
The Assembly opened with an address by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo¢gan, followed by presentations by Kim Campbell, secretary-general of the Club of Madrid, and Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. Welcoming speakers also included Ayo Obe, chair of the WMD Steering Committee; Can Paker, chair of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV); and Murat Belge, of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, Turkey (HCA). TESEV and HCA served as local-partner organizations. [End Page 186]
A highlight of the event was the presentation of the World Move-ment's Democracy Courage Tributes at the John B. Hurford memorial dinner. The Tributes draw attention to groups working in difficult circumstances, often without much recognition. Recipients were democracy activists in Vietnam, especially recognizing Hoang Minh Chinh and Thich Quang Do; the human rights and democracy movement in Uzbekistan; Nepal's civil society; and the Crimean Tatars and their Mejlis (parliament), especially recognizing Mustafa Djemilev.
Founded in 1999 to "strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster prodemocracy groups in countries that have not yet entered a process of democratic transition," the WMD is a global network that meets periodically to exchange ideas and experiences. It encourages the use of new information and communication technologies to foster collaboration among democratic forces.
A published report on the Assembly, including reports from the individual workshops, will be available later this year. For more information, visit www.wmd.org.
Iranian Scholar Detained
Ramin Jahanbegloo, an internationally known Iranian-Canadian intellectual and human rights advocate, was arrested on or around April 27 at the Tehran Airport on his way to attend a conference in Brussels. Jahanbegloo is reportedly being held in the notorious Evin prison, where many political prisoners have reported being tortured. Reasons for Ramin Jahanbegloo's arrest are still unclear. There has been an outcry in the international community against his arrest. Until his arrest, Jahanbegloo headed the Department of Contemporary Studies at the Cultural Research Bureau in Tehran. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University and the University of Toronto, and in 2001–2 he was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the NED's International Forum for Democratic Studies.
Kyrgyz Activist Assaulted
Prominent civil society activist Edil Baisalov was seriously assaulted near his office in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on April 12. Baisalov, leader of the For Democracy and Civil Society Coalition, has been a vocal critic of the growing power of organized crime and its penetration of state institutions since the March 2005 Tulip Revolution. Baisalov had recently returned from the WMD's Fourth Assembly.
30th Anniversary Celebration of the Moscow Helsinki Group
On May 12, the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) celebrated its 30th anniversary in Moscow. The celebration included presentations by Yuri Orlov, the MHG's founder; Ella Pamfilova, chair of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council; and Yuri Dzhibladze, director [End Page 187] of the Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights. Founded on 12 May 1976 to promote the Soviet Union's...