Statement of Solidarity
With the Peoples of the Arab region, Human Rights Activists and Defenders
The Arab region is witnessing massive protests in various countries claiming the long quest of the citizens for a new relationship between state and the citizen that builds on promotion, protection and respect to their fundamental freedoms and human rights, establishment and active participation in democratic governance, that overcomes corruption, nepotism, lack of accountability and transparency.
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, express our unambiguous solidarity with the people of the Arab region engaged in these peaceful revolutions and support their request for respect to human dignity.
The people’s revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and followed by nation-wide mobilizations in other Arab countries like Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Syria reflect the climax of people’s resistance and struggle against the violation of their political as well as economic and social rights. It reflects their stands against continuous rise in poverty, unemployment, and inequalities. The social and economic exclusion compounded with political repression unified people’s of different ages, sexes, races, religions and backgrounds in common recall for widespread reforms on the economic, social, cultural and political fronts. Besides political reforms, they call for the establishment of a new social and economic model that puts rights at the center and responds to long-lasting developmental challenges they face.
The establishment of new more relevant development paradigms needs to be based on “democratic national ownership”, which is one of the main principles of development effectiveness, and necessarily be an inclusive process, on the national level, to elaborate economic and social visions, strategies, and policy interventions. It must be characterized by healthy and inclusive national dialogue that engages policy makers, political groups, civil society organizations, and citizen’s voices in general. Furthermore, achieving sustained and inclusive development paths requires a much more coherent and supportive international development architecture that necessitates systemic global economic reforms. This is what GCAP and its worldwide constituency have been calling for.
Unfortunately, the legitimate right of the citizens to assembly and expression was faced by the force from the authorities in several of these countries. As noted by High Commissioner Pillay this ‘has not succeeded in quelling discontent but only fueling frustration and anger’.
Within this context, it has been more than ten days that the Syrian political writer, journalist, and GCAP Activist Mr. Fayez Sara has been re-arrested in Damascus by the Syrian security forces. Mr Sara has been long time ago active in civil society, and has contributed to nonviolent dialogue on democracy in Syria. He was first arrested in 2007, held as prisoner of conscience, and sentenced for three years in prison. Civil society activists and voices from Syria, the Arab region, and globally, It is deplorable that he has once again been arrested for peaceful and legal activities.
“As the world’s attention turns to the crisis in Libya, it’s important that the international community doesn’t lose sight of the legitimate struggles for democratic rights being waged by the Bahraini, Yemeni and Syrian people,” said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director of CIVICUS and GCAP Global Council member, who was himself detained for years due to peaceful activism. “Thousands of people in these countries are risking their lives by coming out onto the streets to express their revulsion at the decades of repression by their governments. They must be protected in the exercise of their rights.”
Moreover, thousands of people were killed and hundreds arrested during the protests in Bahrain, whereby many citizens are being expelled from their work because they were using their rights to express their opinion and to refuse the political, economic and social exclusion in addition to corruption and the lack of transparency and integrity. Consequently, the increasing number of innocent people being arrested in Syria and in Bahrain, in spite of claimed willingness on the part of the government to release political detainees, is a matter of grave concern. A number of human rights organisations in Syria, Bahrain and the Arab region have condemned the arrest, and GCAP supports the view that the arrest is a gross violation of Article 9 of the universal declaration of human rights, and 9.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.
"Fundamental human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are currently under threat in Syria and Bahrain. It is an embarrassment to global governance that a country violating the rights of its own citizens is vying for a position on the human rights council," said GCAP campaign director Lysa John.
We express our solidarity with all the people’s of the region mobilizing for their rights and stand in support of human rights activists and defenders, those arrested and further persecuted in prisons.
We call for the prompt cease of the use of violence against rightful demonstrators and the immediate release of all human rights activists and defenders, including Mr. Fayez Sara.
We also call the international community through the United Nations, to immediately take action with its core responsibility to use all appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian, and other peaceful means to stop the violent acts of illegitimate authorities against citizens calling for their rights.
ANND has also released a statement, with the support of Civicus. A link is attached at the bottom of the online GCAP statement. Please feel free to circulate, and send through ideas on concrete follow up actions.