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Annual roundtable event on the right to freedom of religion or belief was organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Istanbul. This year’s roundtable discussion focused on the general trends and issues related to religious freedom in Turkey, based on the Monitoring Report on the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief – July 2013-June 2014. The second part of the discussion centred on the intersection between the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to education.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
A regional conference for universities adopted the Sarajevo Declaration on the Role of Higher Education and Civil Society in Education for Peace on 20 March 2014. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized the regional conference “The role of universities in peacebuilding” in Sarajevo on 20 March together with our local partners as part of our project Build Bridges, not Walls.
As a result of long-term work on freedom of religion or belief in Central Asia the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights were invited to conduct a workshop with Kyrgyz parliamentarians discussing how to ensure that national legislation is line with international human rights. The workshop took place in Bishkek on 10-11 February 2014.
The Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia Project is part of NHC’s larger Human Rights in Central Asia program, and focuses in particular on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
As a part of the Norwegian Helsinki Committees efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are implementing the project “Peace Education on Location”, in cooperation with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska. The project is supported by USAID.
The “Coalition for Trust”, a three-year regional project funded by the European Commission and co-funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, started in late 2012 and works in all entities of the South Caucasus to restore confidence and build people-to-people contact by opening up new perspectives on conflict transformation. The initiative is implemented on the ground by local partner and associate organisations in the regions. NHC is working with the partners to develop and deliver a broad-ranging educational programme for close to 300 students, journalists and civic activists.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative ideas.
Russian Civic Assistance Committee will soon present a book,- a collection of memories of eyewitnesses of and participants in the Chechen wars. The title of the book, published in Russian, is ‘Stories of one war’ / Каждый молчит о своем: истории одной войны,
A conference on the role of universities in peacebuilding took place at the university of Novi Pazar, Serbia on December 14-15. The conference is part of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's reconciliation program for the Western Balkans.
The human rights organization Spravedlivost' has produced a video encouraging peace between ethnic groups in the South of Kyrgyzstan.
Universities and peacebuilding:
The role of universities in peacebuilding has been dicussed in the Western Balkans as part of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee program “Building bridges not walls – The role of universities in peacebuilding”.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce that the following projects have been selected to receive support from its annual Small Grants Fund.
Armenia is a small Caucasus country that tends to be forgotten between the blatant human rights offender Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan in the East, and the unsecure and unstable Georgia to the North. However, human rights are violated also in Armenia, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has supported the work of civil society in Armenia for many years in order to address central issues. One of the most central actors in the human rights environment in Yerevan is the Armenian Helsinki Association and Mikael Danielyan.
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, HCHR, in Republika Srpska recently launched an initiative whose aim is to introduce the subject of transitional justice at state universities in Bosnia-Hercegovina, BiH. The project is supported by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The project is aimed at preparing of the GOLOS network in Northwest Russia for advanced long-term and short-term observation of the upcoming federal elections by involving a wide range of stakeholders into this process. The results of shall be analyzed using mathematical methods and presented to the public.
The three-year (2010-13) project ”Promoting a social climate propitious to Transitional Justice and a culture of non-impunity” is carried out in Serbia by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia in co-operation with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee with the support of the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
An extensive five-day training seminar for Belarusian journalists opens in Vilnius today. We also issue an appeal to the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to put forward an initiative for the release of imprisoned Azerbaijani editor Eynulla Fattullayev.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee congratulates our partner in Russia, the Committee against Torture, who in April 2011 was awarded the Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE). The NHC also nominated our partner to this prestigious award.
During a conference on Strengthening Human Rights in Russia organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with Amnesty International Norway in Oslo on September 19-22 this year, a resolution on establishing the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center was adopted by a group of nine leading Russian and international human rights organizations.