Saturday, June 20, 2009

Civil society groups protest proposed restrictions

I received a message via Facebook today with the following information:

Yesterday more than 50 NGO representatives demonstrated in front of the national parliament building to protest changes legislation restricting independent NGOs. . Baku city officials didn't give permission for the picketing, but it was held anyway. The protestors were not able to get into the parliament building, but Gubad Ibadoglu, a prominent dissident economist, was somehow able to enter and present this statement from the Civil Society Defense Committee.

Baku city 19 June 2009
We, the non-governmental organizations united in the Civil Society Defense Committee, condemn the proposed changes and additions to Azerbaijan Republic Law Non-governmental Organizations (Public Unions and Foundations) and strongly object to their adoption!

We declare that these amendments directly contradict Azerbaijan's professed political course, these changes, the Constitution and Azerbaijan's international commitments, and restrict significantly the fundamental human rights of freedom of association and expression!

We consider that these changes and amendments are intended to create serious restrictions for the establishment and work of non-governmental organizations and are a severe blow to the civil society!

Taking all of these things into consideration, and believing that the changes will be damaging to the international image of the government, we say NO to these changes and amendments and call on parliamentarians NOT TO VOTE them!

We declare that if the proposed changes and amendments are approved, we will use all legal and civil means to abolish them!

Trend News reported the existence of the picketing - very briefly:

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 19 / Trend News A. Huseynbala /

Azerbaijani NGOs failed to hold unauthorized piquet in front of building of the Parliament.

Police did not allow participants of the action coming closer building of the parliament, Trend News correspondent reported from the place of incident. Participants of the action protest against additions and changes in law bill NGOs.

Despite the action failed, economic research center chairman Gubad Ibadoglu was allowed submitting statement of members of protest to the Parliament.

Law bill on changes and additions to law bill NGOs was added in agenda of meeting of the Azerbaijani parliament on June 19.

They envisage limitations on cooperation of local NGOs with foreign ones.