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.
[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.
Fight for Our Future! No Price on Nature!
We are movements and organizations from Asia, waging struggles on various fronts and arenas to defend our rights, resist policies and projects that cause harm and destruction, and to fight for immediate priorities and demands, as well as profound transformation of our societies.
We envision a social and economic system:
• that is aimed at providing for the needs of people and aspirations for a humane, empowering and liberating life in a manner that respects the earth’s capacity to regenerate, and to sustain life based on the integrity of natural systems;
• that is based on and promotes equity, parity, solidarity and mutual respect among people and nations regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, culture, capabilities and class;
• that promotes sharing of land, water, forests, atmosphere, eco-systems and territories based on the principles of stewardship and not private ownership, and the rights of all people to equitable and responsible access to, and use of the commons;
• where there is equitable and democratic control of economic resources;
• where there is peace is based on justice and not the overcoming of conflict through the use of deception and military might;
A civil society group, who specially work on climate change, will hand over a memorandum to Finance Minister and all the MPs prior to budget session to press for integrating climate adaptation in the national budget, reports UNB.
Representatives of seven civil society right groups’ climate network and eight organizations announced this at a press conference at the National Press club on Wednesday.
The right groups consist of seven networks; BAPA, BIPNetCCBD, CCDF, CSRL, CFGN, EquityBD and NCCB and the organizations are: BKF, OKS, CGC, CDP, BKS, Humanity Watch, PRAN and VOICE.
The press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD.
Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishak Federation gave a welcome address. Mizanur Rahman Bijoy of Network on Climate Change in Bangladesh read out the memorandum.
The group proposed 11 priority points, which include construction of coastal embankment, long term steps to reduce river erosion, land zoning to preserve agricultural land, excavation of ponds and canals to increase reservation of surface water, inclusion of climate issue in all levels of education, extension of BADC up to upazila level to promote local seeds, innovation of alternative water source in hilly areas,
Green and right activists on Thursday demanded an end of World Bank’s role in the management of Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund by 2013.
They expressed their concern that the government was trying to extend the time by five more years to 2018 for management of BCCRF by WB and demanded establishment of an independent body to manage the fund transparently.
They urged to form a democratic ownership of all climate fund managements by enlisting representatives from both ruling and opposition parties, civil society groups, media persons and affected people.
The demands were raised at a press conference organised at the National Press Club in the city by 17 organisations that are vocal on climate change, environment and rights issues in the country.
Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment executive director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, who read out the written speech, said the government had earlier said the WB would help to build capacity in BCCRF management until 2013 in exchange of 1 per cent service charge out of the total grants.
The international climate negotiation is not the only arena of our struggles for climate justice. But it is a critical one which now more than ever requires much stronger concerted efforts -- to counter moves by powerful governments, international institutions and global corporations that will bring more harm to people and planet, and to fight for global measures that will stave off catastrophic climate change and enable people to deal with present and future impacts.
To pave the way for more powerful collective campaigning - several organizations worked together on a call for a "Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice" that is directed at all governments and the international climate talks and effectively combines "inside" and "outside" actions.