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ODIHR provides new guidance on FORB and security

OSCE/ ODIHR (19.09.2019) – https://www.osce.org/odihr/430463 – Amidst increasing security-driven restrictions on the right to freedom of religion or belief in the OSCE region, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published Freedom of Religion or Belief and Security: Policy Guidance on 19 September 2019.  This new publication, launched at a side event of the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2019 in Warsaw, provides guiding principles, practical guidance and recommendations to ensure a human rights-based, gender-sensitive approach to freedom of religion or belief and security for policymakers and security practitioners, civil society organizations, religious or belief communities, and the media.

“This policy guidance seeks to contribute to the much-needed reframing of the discourse on freedom of religion or belief and security in the OSCE region and to inform practice in this area,” said Kishan Manocha, ODIHR Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  “It offers practical guidance to help OSCE participating States ensure their security measures are in line with their international obligations and commitments in this area.”

Some 50 participants drawn from state authorities, civil society organizations, religious or belief communities, academic institutions, and the media attended the launch event.  ODIHR will present the recommendations contained in the policy guidance at a number of roundtable discussions and other meetings to be convened across the OSCE region in the coming months.

Contacts
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Public Affairs Unit
Office: +48 22 520 06 00
Fax: +48 22 520 06 05
PublicAffairs@odihr.pl





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Open Letter to the OSCE/ODIHR

Will it be worthwhile participating in the next HDIM? All the participants’ statements and papers in the last five years have just been removed from the website of the OSCE/ODIHR.

 

For more than 20 years, I have participated in the annual OSCE/ ODIHR conference in Warsaw, now called Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), a unique advocacy event for human rights defenders and CSOs, that started in the military barracks near the airport where, in 1955, the Warsaw Pact was signed.

 

I have regularly used the database of all the statements and speeches compiled on the website of ODIHR for my research, my papers and my conferences.

 

Earlier this month I again visited the website of the OSCE/ ODIHR on several occasions, until a few days ago I discovered that

 

ALL the pages devoted to the HDIM from the very beginning of this process until 2013 had suddenly and silently ‘disappeared’.

ALL the statements and speeches filed under the HDIM 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 had also ‘disappeared’.

What was kept on the website is irrelevant information: Hotels in Warsaw – Hotels Special Rates – Cost for Side Event Services, etc.

 

There was apparently a will to cleanse disturbing information, which looks like an act of censorship.

 

The statements at HDIMs and before have been erased from the history and the memory of the OSCE. This is not only its property but it is also the property of human rights NGOs and victims of human rights violations. This heritage is also the property of this and the next generations of human rights activists.

 

The materials presented at HDIMs is a monument to the victims of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes and also a reminder of the fragility of human rights in democratic states and as such, it is similar to a monument dedicated to the victims of Nazism and Communism.

 

Why was such a sacrilege perpetrated? Who was mandated to make such a mutilation? What is behind such a move? Did it disturb Participating States?

 

Will the statements and speeches of the 2019 HDIM also soon ‘disappear’ in the bowels of the oblivion as if the human rights violations denounced by CSOs had never existed?

 

Is it worth going to the 2020 HDIM if it is reduced to a confidential exchange of oral statements and rights of reply doomed to be withdrawn from the public eye after a short time?

 

Our recommendation to the OSCE/ ODIHR is simple: Fully restore the archives of the HDIM process and make them accessible again to the international community.

Human Rights Without Frontiers (Brussels)

Willy Fautré, director





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Statement of Serbia’s delegation to the OSCE about persecution in Kosovo

Statement by Dusan Kozarev for the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2019 of the OSCE/ODIHR

 

OIDHR (24.09.2019) – https://bit.ly/2lFNdYv – Good afternoon, I am Dusan Kozarev, Deputy-Director in the Office for Kosovo and Metohija of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. It is my honour to speak at this Panel on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination, and I intend to inform you of an unacceptable discrimination still being enforced on the European soil against the Serbian people in the Southern Serbian Province of Kosovo and Metohija. There, the fundamental human rights of Serbs are being routinely violated, including the rights to life, to movement, to property, to belonging, to their ethnic and religious community. There are no positive developments to report since the previous OSCE Human Dimension event in Warsaw; moreover, the situation worsened. We are witnessing intensified intimidation aimed both at compelling Serbs to leave Kosovo and Metohija and preventing the displaced ones to return. There were some 70 ethnically driven attacks against Serbs, throughout the course of the year behind us.

 

In October 2018, during a single night in the Municipality of Klina, Albanians broke in 25 homes of Serbian returnees. Few days late r, in the Municipality of Peé a Serbian home was set on fire. Pristina exerts, tolerates, and faits to sanction various pressures against Serbs, and this effectively hinders their return.

 

November 2018 was the harshest period for the Serbs in that year. Firstly, on 6 November Pristina introduced 10% taxes on the incoming goods from Central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then on 21 November increased the taxes to 100%, as an unprecedented move in recent history, despite the regional free-trade agreement in force (CEFTA). This Pristina’s anti-civilizational measure disrupted the regular supply of food, medications, technical supplies, the basic hygiene commodities. Besides this targeted economic isolation, the Serbian community was exposed to additional concerns caused by incursion of the Special Unit ROSU in the northern Kosovska Mitrovica, raiding several sites and arresting four Serbs under false charges of their alleged involvement in the assassination of Serb politician Oliver Ivanovié. The true executors of this heinous crime are still not identified.

 

December 2018 saw a repeated practice of intimidation of Serbs by writing “KLA” graffiti in  the Municipality of Lipljan on the walls of: an elementary school, a Serbian-owned home, a chape) at the local Orthodox cemetery, and the local Monument of Fallen Serbian Fighters in the Liberation Wars. For Serbs, “KLA” graffiti epitomize crimes committed by this terrorist organization during the fighting.

 

In January 2019, in the vicinity of the Monastery of the Assumption of Mother of God, some hundred Albanians gathered for their regular annual preventing the former, now-displaced, fellow citizens from Dakovica to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Pristina’s true nature was revealed by their seizure of the New Year’s and Christmas gifts for Serbian children from Gorazdevac and Osojane. In February, near Orahovac, the memorial plaque marking the place of abduction of TV joumalists Duro Slavuj and Ranko Perenié in August 1998 was removed, for the seventh time. Shortly thereafter the St. Trinity Church in the Municipality of Urosevac was plundered and desecrated.

 

During March and April 2019 the usual practice of theft of Serb-owned property, from seedlings to livestock to vehicles and tractors, was continued. A church in the village of Suvi Do was plundered and desecrated. Harassment of Serbs at the checkpoints went on, and the Kosovo Police banned entry to the FC Novi Pazar Juniors, bound for a match in Zubin Potok. The police also continued the arrest of Serbs from the secret list of indictments for alleged war crimes.

 

Full force of brutality of the Kosovo Police exploded in May 2019 when its special units raided four northem Municipalities with Serbian majority population. Their six-hour violent action almost provoked a serious armed interaction. Contrary to the provision that any north-bound action has to be sanctioned by Police Commander for the North and KFOR, this one was carried out without prior notice, in a three-pronged incursion aimed at intimidating, stirring panic, and arresting persons under charges of alleged organized crime. Tear gas, shock bombs, and live ammunition were used against civilians. 28 persons (19 KPS officers and 9 civilians) were arrested. Also arrested were two UNMIK staff under diplomatie immunity, including Russian citizen Mikhail Krasnoschhenko who was also severely beaten up.

 

Let me recall that back in March 2018, those same special units arrested Marko Durié, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Head ofNegotiating Team with Pristina. By arresting and beating of Lead Negotiator of the Republic of Serbia, and arresting and beating of an international mission staff, Pristina sends a crystally clear message to the remaining Serbs:  “If we dare do this to persons protected by diplomatie immunity, just imagine what we dare do to you. Leave!”

 

In response to the special forces raiding the North of Kosovo and Metohija, President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucié pre-emptively ordered full combat readiness for ail units of the Serbian Armed Forces. However, as the Republic of Serbia stayed true to being committed to peaceful solution of problems in this instance, too, this incursion did not evolve into an ail-out armed conflict. For Belgrade, threatening the Serbian lives in Kosovo and Metohija is the “red line”. The international community, sadly, remained very quiet.

 

August 2019 saw another blatant discrimination against Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, in hoisting the so-called Kosovo flag on the walls of Serbian medieval town of Novo Brdo, as an act of gross revision of history. The Novo Brdo Fort is among key Serbian historie and archaeological sites, and any Albanian attempt to appropriate it is but an act of forging history and aimed at the deepening the inter-ethnie abyss in Kosovo and Metohija. Obviously; the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is in a dire need to be protected. Albanians seek to go beyond mere plundering and destroying Serbian shrines and heritage, they seek to fully usurp and falsify Serbian history and, eventually, erase any trace of existence of Serbs in the area of Kosovo and Metohija.

 

Another danger, both for Serbs and for Al ban ia ns, is the return of battle-hardened fighters from the battlefields in Syria and whole Middle East. According to the State Department report for 2017, 403 Al banians from Kosovo and Metohija went to war for terrorist organization dubbed Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it is estimated that more than 250 ISIS fighters returned to Kosovo and Metohija, posing a real danger for the Balkans and Europe. Presently, one of the last remnants of Jihadist struggle in Syria is an all-Albanian unit, called Jamati Alban. According to Albanian media, more than 50,000 people in Kosovo and Metohija practice Wahhabism, the most radical form of Islam.

 

In spite of this all, the Republic of Serbia remains patient and prudent, committed to dialogue and peace and to a compromise-oriented settlement of the centuries old Kosovo knot, and to enhancing cooperation in the region.

 





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Violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion in the occupied Crimea

Statement by Zarema Bariieva, Committee for the protection of rights of the Crimean Tatar people for the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2019 of the OSCE / ODIHR

 

Committee (19.09.2019) – Distinguished moderator, representatives of OSCE member states and participants!

 

Having occupied Crimea in 2014, in violation of international law, Russia began systemic violations of human rights. Russian repressive practices are gaining more and more momentum. Searches, arrests, detentions are not single episodes any more but systemic and institutionalized. Every day, human rights defenders record dozens of cases of human rights violations throughout Crimea, including violations of freedom of religion. The occupation power is trying to find more and more artificial reasons to arrest completely innocent people, accusing them of crimes that they have never committed. Here are just a few examples registered by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center over the first half of 2019:

 

  • On January 18, on the eve of Friday prayer police officers and riot police arrived at the mosque in Dubki village of Simferopol region. They tried to substitute the imam;
  • On March 17, in Sary-su district, Belogorsk, there was an attempt to prevent a prayer service dedicated to illegally convicted political prisoners and the missing during the occupation period of Crimea;
  • On March 27, the Russian authorities in occupied Crimea prematurely terminated the lease agreement for the premises, which houses the only Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the peninsula. The “Arbitration Court ”of Crimea ordered the church to return the premises to the “Ministry of Property and Land Relations ”
  • On April 15, in the village Sturmovoye, Balaklava district of Sevastopol, officers of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation searched the house of imam of the local mosque Rustem Abilev, after which he was detained and arrested.

 

Under the guise of fighting against terrorist organizations and their leaders, the occupation authorities are fighting against dissent and socially active citizens. The so-called Crimean authorities continue conducting regular searches in the households of theCrimean Tatar and Ukrainian activists. Most of the searches carried out in the first half of 2019 were related to alleged participation in organizations prohibited in the Russian Federation such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The largest number of searches was recorded in March and in June 2019, when security officials massively searched 26 and 8 houses of the Crimean Tatars on suspicion of participating in the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization banned in Russia and 9 houses of representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.

 

Since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, Russia has prosecuted 63 Crimeans for allegedly participating in or organizing the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, 50 out of 63 have already been illegally transferred to the territory of the Russian Federation. 13 were sentenced to a term of 5 to 17 years in high security prisons. We urge the OSCE member states to do their best and help to return these people from Russian prisons back to their families. We recommend Russian Federation to release all illegally persecuted people in the so-called Hizb ut-Tahrir case.

 

Thank you very much for your attention!

Zarema Bariieva: zarbariieva@gmail.com

 





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OSCE / ODIHR : Freedom of Religion or Belief and Security: Policy Guidance

OSCE (19.09.2019) – https://bit.ly/2kOPYX9 – Amidst increasing security-driven restrictions on the right to freedom of religion or belief in the OSCE region, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published Freedom of Religion or Belief and Security: Policy Guidance on 19 September 2019.  This new publication, launched at a side event of the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2019 in Warsaw, provides guiding principles, practical guidance and recommendations to ensure a human rights-based, gender-sensitive approach to freedom of religion or belief and security for policymakers and security practitioners, civil society organizations, religious or belief communities, and the media.

 

“This policy guidance seeks to contribute to the much-needed reframing of the discourse on freedom of religion or belief and security in the OSCE region and to inform practice in this area,” said Kishan Manocha, ODIHR Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  “It offers practical guidance to help OSCE participating States ensure their security measures are in line with their international obligations and commitments in this area.”

Some 50 participants drawn from state authorities, civil society organizations, religious or belief communities, academic institutions, and the media attended the launch event.  ODIHR will present the recommendations contained in the policy guidance at a number of roundtable discussions and other meetings to be convened across the OSCE region in the coming months.


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