Civil Society Forum in Poznan - Civil Society Digest

Siarhei Lisichonak

The third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum was held in Poznan, Poland on 28-30 November 2011. The Forum gathered around 300 participants and guests from civil society sector working in EaP countries and EU, including more than 20 representatives of Belarusian NGOs. During three days with an intensive agenda, participants discussed different question on civil society engagement in eastern partnership, challenges and prospects for further development of EaP Civil Society Forum.

New Coordinator of National Platform. Director Executive Bureau of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs, Siarhei Lisichonak, was elected as the new Belarusian National Coordinator of EaP CSF. Lisichenok replaced Ulad Vialichka, EuroBelarus, in his post.

Statement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Poznan adopted a Statement on 29 November with a demand of an immediate and unconditional release and full rehabilitation of Ales Byalyatski. The Statement also calls upon the European Union member states to take joint measures toward the release of Ales Byalyatski and other political prisoners.

Three Belarusians were elected to the new Steering Committee of EaP Civil Society Forum. A new 17-member Steering Committee was elected at the annual meeting of the Civil Society Forum in Poznan. Three Belarusian NGO activists became Steering Committee members: Siarhei Lisichonak (Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs), Olga Stuzhinskaya (Office for a Democratic Belarus), and Yaroslav Bekish (Green Alliance).

Other Civil Society Activities

Information campaign against gender violence. From November 25 to December 10, the Belarusian Association of Young Christian Women conducts information campaign “Say Yes to family without violence.” The campaign is a part of the international campaign “ 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women” and dedicated to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25).

#TwiPartyBy. On 26 November, Minsk hosted the First Party of the Belarusian Twitter community - #TwiPartyBy. The offline event attracted about 300 people. They decided what would be the logo of the Belarusian twitter community and honored the most outstanding twitter people.

Young Front against official radio. "Young Front" has launched a campaign “Stop feeding the regime.” The organization offers Belarusians to refuse to pay for radio, which broadcasts official news. Thus, the authors of the idea demonstrate ​​their attitude towards government propaganda.

New Scholarship Program for Belarusians Opens. Young Belarusians can now apply for scholarships to study for a BA or MA degree at European universities. The Open Europe Scholarship Scheme (OESS) is financed by the European Commission and managed by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The purpose of OESS is to contribute to a democratic and prosperous development in Belarus by giving young Belarusians access to higher education without ideological bias and according to internationally accepted academic standards.

The project for the re-socialization of convicts summed up in Homel. On 30 November, a Roundtable in Homel summed up the project “Adult Education for the re-socialization and professionalization of penal institutions.” Gomel regional NGO "Social Projects" with the support of German association "Deutscher Volkshochschulverband e.V." implemented an educational program (a training course of psycho-social support, computer courses and crafts) in two penal colonies.

Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities presented an Alternate Report. On 1 December, Educational human rights institution “Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities” held a press conference in Minsk. The topic was a Report (alternate) on support and performance of rights of people with disabilities in Belarus. About 40 people took part in the press conference, including journalists, NGOs, governmental agencies, international organizations.

World AIDS Day in Belarus. On 1 December, World AIDS Day, Belarusian HIV NGOs conducted a number of events aimed at bringing people together around the issue and to demonstrate commitment to the fight against AIDS.  UN Development Program presented the TV youth 8-series “Above the sky.” The series is dedicated to those who are affected by HIV, and produced on the initiative of the UNDP in collaboration with the Belarusian Ministry of Health for the grant of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Final of the contest “What I know about Europe?” On 3 December, Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius hosts the final game of the VIII National Competition of school teams “What I know about Europe?” The competition is organized by Club of European teachers with the support of the Association for International Affairs (Czech Republic) and the Movement “For Freedom”.

Festival of Belarusian European Lyric Culture. Cultural Initiative “Your Fest” with the support of “Budzma” presents the First Literary and Musical Festival of Belarusian European Lyric Culture “Love in Belarusian, Live in European!..” Festival guests will see Belarusian poets and musicians of all generations on the one stage. The event will take place on 5-6 December, at the club LOFT, Minsk.

International Conference on Ecumenical Dialogue. On 9-10 December, Center "Ekumena" jointly with "Advocates Europe" and "Center for the Study of contemporary religiosity" holds in Minsk a Conference "Dialogue between the society and religious communities and ecumenical dialogue as a factor for sustainable development, pluralism and religious freedom." The conference invites for participation representatives of religious organizations, civil society, governmental bodies, the academic community, diplomatic missions, and lawyers.

International Conference in Warsaw. On  9-11 December, in Warsaw, Lazarski University, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and National Endowment for Democracy host an international conference “Belarus and Belarusians among neighbors: historical perceptions versus political constructs”. The goal of the conference is to examine a diverse range of issues regarding the relations of Belarus with its neighbors, including political and economic ties, cultural links, historical stereotypes, and interaction with the nationalities, confessions, cultural groups and NGOs that make up Belarusian civil society.

Transforming Belarus: Ways Ahead. On 7 December, in Brussels, Carnegie Europe, the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), and the Office for a Democratic Belarus will host an expert forum to discuss the European Union’s policies on Belarus in the context of the latest developments in the country. Among speakers there are European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle; Pavel Daneyko (Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Centre); Arkady Moshes (Finnish Institute for International Affairs); and Aliaksei Pikulik (BISS). The event is organized with the support of Pact/USAID.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

 

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