Autoritære regimer – hvordan de forsøger at underminere ytringsfriheden


Freedom of Association Under Threat: The New Authoritarians’ Offensive Against Civil Society

November 13, 2008

This study assesses the state of associational rights both globally and on a regional basis. Through an analysis of data drawn from Freedom in the World, the report on global political rights and civil liberties published annually by Freedom House, Freedom of Association Under Threat looks at the global trajectory of associational rights and examines the techniques developed by authoritarian regimes in their attempts to weaken civil society. The analysis is derived from a combination of Freedom in the World data sets and interpretive reports on 12 countries where associational rights have been under duress.

Perhaps the most vivid sign of pressure on civil society is the fact that 43 countries, or more than 20 percent of the world total, saw their scores for freedom of association in Freedom in the World decline between 2004 and 2007. Among those countries are a number of the world’s more notable authoritarian states, including Russia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Iran. Also exhibiting a decline is a group of countries in which political freedom, though under varying degrees of stress, has made some progress: Pakistan, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Malaysia. While some countries did register freedom of association gains, including a number from sub-Saharan Africa, they tended to be smaller and less geopolitically significant states than those showing a decline.

To be sure, most countries, including most authoritarian states, tolerate the existence of NGOs that carry out noncontroversial humanitarian missions. Indeed, some countries welcome the emergence of an active, albeit depoliticized, NGO sector on the grounds that these entities may provide essential social services that the state cannot or is not interested in delivering. However, a number of countries are placing intense pressure on organizations that serve a political or quasi-political role, or that raise difficult policy issues for the state. Organizations that defend human rights advocates, press for women’s equality, monitor the judiciary or the police, represent religious minorities, speak for university students, or defend journalists are the principal targets of authoritarian campaigns to limit the role of civil society.

Where the old totalitarian model—under which any initiative outside the realm of the state or dominant party was deemed impermissible—no longer obtains, many authoritarian governments likewise eschew the associated tactics of violence in repressing NGOs. As the narrative reports in this study make clear, today’s authoritarians employ techniques of repression that are much more sophisticated than those used in the past. The officers of NGOs are seldom arrested, placed on trial, sent to gulags, exiled, or murdered, though all these things do happen from time to time. Today’s authoritarians instead rely on legalistic or bureaucratic methods to hobble civil society.

They direct the tax police to conduct repeated investigations of NGO or trade union finances; they enact laws that make it difficult or impossible for civil society institutions to raise funds; they impose draconian fines on NGO directors; they discover code violations in the buildings where NGO offices are situated; they adopt rules that prevent global NGOs from establishing local chapters. A measure that has proved especially effective in throttling the finances of local NGOs is a blanket prohibition on contributions by sources outside the country. Funding from sources in the United States or Europe is critical to the existence of NGOs in the many countries that lack the indigenous capacity to sustain civil society groups and have little or no tradition of philanthropy. Furthermore, even in countries where a wealthy class has developed, local businessmen may be reluctant to provoke the wrath of the political leadership by making contributions to controversial causes. And because the drive against associational rights is conducted largely without violence, it evokes little notice from the outside world.

Et par aktuelle, upolitiske fotos

Brandmand i aktion, Amagerbrogade d. 16. april

Brandmand i aktion, Amagerbrogade d. 16. april

DSaily Hero

Daily Hero

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Er det i det hele taget Mohammad?

Er det i det hele taget Mohammad?

Det her er ivætifæld ikke en religionsaggregator

Er dette en pibe? Jeg kan ikke ryge på den, det er sikkert

Billedet kan købes her!

Den berømte tegning af profeten Muhammed skal hjælpe til at bekæmpe islam og skaffe midler til kampen for ytringsfriheden. Det mener Lars Hedegaard, der er manden bag genoptrykningen af Kurt Westergaards omstridte tegning af profeten Muhammed med en bombe i turbanen.

– Islam er den største trussel mod ytringsfriheden, og vi har et akut behov for midler til at kunne forsvare den, siger Lars Hedegaard, der er formand for Trykkefrihedsselskabet, der har genoptrykt tegningen.

Lars Hedegaard oplyser, at knap 500 af de 1000 tegninger er blevet solgt, og hvis de alle sælges, vil det indbringe selskabet 1,4 millioner kroner. Penge, der skal bruges til kampen for ytringsfriheden, men formentlig også til selskabets hjemmeside.

– 1,4 millioner kroner er jo ikke mange penge. Vores fjender, som jo blandt andet er folkene omkring det saudiarabiske kongehus, har da mange flere penge, siger Lars Hedegaard.

Han forklarer, at kampen for ytringsfriheden blandt andet går ud på at hjælpe den islamkritiske, hollandske politiker Gert Wilders. Derfor går Trykkefrihedsselskabet med tanker om at bruge Kurt Westergaards tegning i andre sammenhænge.

– Vi tænker i kreative baner, men jeg vil ikke afvise, at man måske kan komme til at se tegningen på T-shirts og kaffekopper, siger Lars Hedegaard og tilføjer, at han ikke var klar over, at der ville være så stor en efterspørgsel på tegningen, inden den blev genoptrykt.

– Der er åbenbart mange, der gerne vil støtte vores sag, og det er folk fra hele verden, der køber tegningen, siger Lars Hedegaard.