VOICE is a rights-based, activist organization working mainly on the issues of food sovereignty, aid effectiveness, economic justice, and the right to information and communication, both in Bangladesh and on a global scale. By building a broader constituency of alternative voices to the ‘mainstream development discourse’ through research and public education, VOICE is taking a stand against unjust and undemocratic practices.
Farjana Akter of VOICE (Bangladesh) writes a pithy and passionate piece for urgent climate action, saying that "exercising rights and justice at their maximum standard are the expectations of the people during the climate talks in Doha."
By Farjana Akter (VOICE, Bangladesh)
The COP 18 opened on 26th November with the demand from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that “Kyoto is essential for a successful outcome in Doha”. The LDC group, which is composed of 48 nations, represents the most vulnerable countries in terms of catastrophic climate change impacts. Millions of people in LDCs have been experiencing extreme and often disastrous weather conditions for which so called developed and rich countries (Annex I countries) are responsible due to their massive GHG emissions. We, the people from LDCs, are calling to the rich and developed nations to uphold their spirit of responsibility for the damage they have been doing to the rest of the world and to recognize the urgency of the issues related to climate change for the sake of greater human interest and justice.
Speakers on a public dialogue demanded not to control the Internet as proposed in the International Telecommunications Revisions to be presented in World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai from 3-14 December. They also urged to the government and International Telecommunication Union to act in favor of Internet’s openness and uphold freedom of expression online.
The dialogue was held at the ERC auditorium of Institute of Engineers Bangladesh at Dhaka on Wednesday 28 November 2012. The event was jointly organized by a rights group VOICE and Internet Society Bangladesh Dhaka Chapter.
The dialogue was attended by former BTRC chairman Sayed Margub Morshed, Vice president of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh Sumon Ahmed Sabir, president of Bangladesh Computer Society, Professor Dr. Mahfuj Islam, Dr. Syed Faisal Hasan president of Internet Society Bangladesh Dhaka chapter, executive director of VOICE Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Research Fellow, Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Head of Alliance Somewherein net ltd. Syeda Gulshan Ferdous Jana, moderator Somewhreinblog, Sharat Chowdhury.
Dialogue on World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT):Challenges for Freedom of Expression Online
VOICE and ISOC Bangladesh Dhaka Chapter is going to organize a public dialogue titled “World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) 2012 and Bangladesh: Challenges for Freedom of Expression Online” at the ERC auditorium, Engineers' Institution Bangladesh (IEB), Ramna, Dhaka on Wednesday 28 November 2012 at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
We are pleased to invite you to attend the public dialogue. Distinguished panelists will broadly discuss the key issues. Your presence and valuable contributions will help to formulate a set of recommendation to be presented to the Bangladesh delegations at the WCIT.
If you have any question/clarification, do not hesitate to contact (02-8158688) us.
VOICE is going to organize a two-day long training workshop on `Freedom of expression, social media and the Internet in Bangladesh' on which will be held on 20-21 October at CBCB (Catholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh), 24/C Asad Avenue, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207.
The workshop aims at discussing around the issues affecting freedom of expression on internet and come up with a set of recommendations to uphold freedom of opinion and expression online.
The workshop will bring participants from civil society organizations, journalists, rights groups, online groups such as bloggers, face book users, internet experts, youth and human rights defenders etc both from Dhaka and district level.
[Dhaka, 29 September 2012] Speakers urged the government of Bangladesh to ensure that the right to freedom expression and opinion is upheld on the Internet in a public dialogue held at Dhaka’s press club earlier today. Speakers included Afsan Chowdhury, executive editor of Bdnews24.com; Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, editor in chief and CEO of Boishaki Television; Mostafa Jabber, IT specialist; Akhtaruzzaman Monju, chairman, ISP Association; Tahmina Rahman country director, Artcile-19; Seleem Samad, eminent journalist; and Golam Mortuza, editor, Saptahik. The dialogue on freedom of expression on the internet was organized by VOICE and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE moderated the occasion.
Afsan Chowdhury stated that the internet is now a widespread medium of free expression and the State and other powers in society are increasingly fearful of the attention given to alternative views. He argued that internet freedom should not be restricted by any means whilst emphasizing that we must to educate all citizens to build a strong moral ground and respect for others in society. The proposed online media policy would hamper democratic practices and governance processes in the country, he concluded.
A public dialogue on `Freedom of Expression on Internet in Bangladesh’ to be held on 29 September 2012
We have the great pleasure to invite you to a public dialogue titled `Freedom of expression on internet’ to be held on Saturday, 29 September 2012 from 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. at the VIP lounge of National Press Club, Dhaka.
The dialogue will broadly discuss around the issues affecting freedom of expression on internet and will put recommendations to facilitate to uphold freedom of opinion and expression online.
We look forward to your active participation.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud
Criticising the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for pursuing discredited tax policy in Bangladesh, civil society members at a discussion Saturday urged the government to reconsider new VAT (Value Added Tax) law 2012, which has been prepared to fulfill the IMF conditions, reports UNB.
Although the VAT bill is supposed to be passed in the current parliament session, the prominent citizens said the VAT is regressive to poor, and in respect of taxation policy there should be emphasis on direct tax to reduce tax burden on the poor.
EquityBD, a civil society network of rights groups in Bangladesh, organised the discussion titled 'Revised VAT law 2012 to fulfill IMF Conditionality, a Review: Domestic Resource Mobilisation, VAT and Tax Justice' at the National Press Club in the city.
Moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, the discussion was addressed, among others, by president of Bangladesh Tax Law Association Saha Zikrul Ahmed, MP, Dr Abu Ahmed of Dhaka University, economist Dr Romoni Mohan Debnath, Zakir Hossion Khan of TIB (Transparency International Bangladesh), Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara, Mahbub Hasan of Coastal Development Partnership, Ahmed Swapan of VOICE and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD.
Ahsanul Karim and Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD jointly delivered keynote
presentation on the occasion.
Reality check, a quarterly report published by Reality of Aid Network. Please find the summary below:
As 2015 draws to a close, the whole international development community is in a rush to come up with a new framework and process that will set common objectives over the next years- a new development agenda that will truly bring about changes in peoples’ lives. The United Nations’ high level panel on global sustainability suggests global sustainable development goals to replace the MDGs.
As the whole international community rethinks development, moving away from the business-as-usual approach to end poverty and inequality, so is the opportune time to push for one of the potentially powerful instruments to fight poverty - policies that are comprehensive and coherent towards achieving sustainable development.
But while governments are required to implement policies that are consistent with the goal of promoting sustainable development, what is not highlighted is that policy incoherence stems from the implementation of neo-liberal policies that are imposed on developing countries.
To download the new issue of Reality Check "Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development", please click the following link:
Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, June 17, 2012
Civil society activists from across the world joined for a protest on Sunday inside the Riocentro convention center to push the messsage: “Our Future, Our Voice.”
The activists, part of the Rights for Sustainability campaign, taped their mouths and held placards before gathered media.
The protest was in reaction to a lack of voice for civil society at Rio+20; back-tracking on the Rio principles established at the 1992 Earth Summit; and the prioritizing of unregulated corporate interests over human rights and equity.
Paul Quintos of IBON International, which coordinates the NGO Cluster on Rights and Equity at Rio+20, and the Rights for Sustainability advocacy platform, said: “Civil society’s ability to promote the voice of the people it represents has been steadily eroded throughout the
process leading up to Rio+20."
“Instead of progress and solutions in negotiations, we are seeing back-tracking on commitments established in 1992. Principles that protect human rights and equity are disappearing, watered down or remain devoid of concrete means to implement them.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud is an activist and researcher, and executive director and founder of Voice
guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 June 2012 10.21 BST
To meet the development goals, a human rights-based approach, gender equality, decent work, and environment and ecological protection should be at the heart.
Since 1992, the global economy has become more accumulative and centralised, which goes against the principles of sustainable development goals. A series of crises such as climate, food, power, energy and financial emerged due to overexploitation of natural resources, overconsumption and the capitalist nature of the economy.
Most of the world's resources are in the hands of around 5% of the richest people. Thus, in the past two decades, marginalisation – the rich and poor divide – has increased. So, the development goals must assert social and economic equality, and environmental protection. The green economy cannot solve the problem until the current architecture is changed.
Bangladesh has made economic progress with constant GDP growth of 6% in the past few years, but the rich and poor divide has increased and climate change becomes an issue that makes life more vulnerable than before.