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Press Releases written by Voice
[VOICE, Dhaka, 31 May 2010]
VOICE expresses its serious concern over the infringement of freedom of expression and the government’s control on the access to information through blocking the social networking site, Facebook.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked access to Facebook last Saturday, 29 May 2010. Facebook is increasingly becoming a popular online medium among the youth to stay connected with important opportunities and contacts and perform their socio-cultural, family or livelihood- related activities. Close to one million users in Bangladesh now log on to Facebook on a regular basis.
While we condemn the posting of anti-Islamic elements on Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SM), porn links or uploading satiric images of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition- for which the Government has allegedly banned Facebook, we believe such banning would not help to stop the causes. It only blocks the ‘Freedom of Expression’ rights, Right to Information ACT enacted last year and will only tarnish the image of the country abroad. Such banning is also contrary to the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ declaration of the present Governent, that has got many young people to vote for them.
[Dhaka, May 3, 2010] VOICE, rights-based research and advocacy organization based in Dhaka called for solidarity to observe the Asian Day of Action against Privatization of Essential Services. The Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and the Campaign Network on the Right to Essential Services and Natural Resources (RTRS) declared May 4 as the Asian Day of Action Against Privatization of Essential Services while VOICE being its members called for strengthening civil society voices against blanket privatization of essential services including heath and education. The day of action coincides with the 43rd Annual Governors Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Taskent, Uzbekistan. The observation of the day aims at standing against the ADB’s role in privatizing water, power, and other essential services in the region.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE urges all sects of society to resist and oppose the imposition and financing of privatization of water and power and other essential services. He said that due to privatization process in Bangladesh, people have already been affected and the poor became the worst sufferers. He further added to stop financing private sector monopolization of
water, power, health and education sectors in Bangladesh.
14 December 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark – Protesters from Asia, Latin America, Africa and other regions of the world staged a lively demonstration in front of the Bella Center today to demand reparations from highly-industrialized countries for their climate debt and for the World Bank and its sister institutions to stay out of climate finance.
The demonstrators demanded that on industrialized countries including the United States, Great Britain and Japan to give reparations for the climate debt they owe to the peoples of the South, developing countries and marginalized communities everywhere. The capitalist industrialization of these countries were said to have driven the excessive carbon emissions of the past two centuries, and were undertaken at a very high cost now being shouldered by developing countries who are most vulnerable to climate-induced disasters.
International Campaign on Climate Refugees’ Rights (ICCR) launched at Copenhagen
[Copenhagen, Friday 11 December 2009] While the countries split wide open on combating climate change, the civil soiceity groups have launched `International Campaign on Climate Refugees’ Rights’ (ICCR) at Copenhagen. The social movement groups from Asia, Africa and Latin/Central America joined hands together to demand the rights of millions of people being displaced by the climate change.
Opening the launching of the campaign, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, convenor of the ICCR said, "global civil society groups should come forward to build a wider constituency to claim the justice and rights of the climate induced refugees".
[VOICE Release, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 16 November 2009]
Civil society organizations, human rights activists, researchers, academicians gathered in the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) taking place in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt strongly criticized UN for removal of a poster during the meeting of Open Net Initiative (ONI) held on the first day of the UN IGF on 15 December 2009. The poster mentioned internet censorship and China's Great Firewall.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Stockholm, 23 October 2009 `Democracy and Development' was marked with a lively debate among the panelists during the second day of the European Development Day. The plenary was held in Victoria Hall of the EU Conference held on 23 October 2009. 15 other events and discussions. Some of 15 other events and discussions were also held which were attended by hundreds of people including Ministers, Government officials, civil societies from around the world. Amr Moussa, Secretary General, League of Arab States, urged that, “Democracy is a system that should be promoted, but the definition of democracy must be broader than simply a ballot box. Democracy promotion requires more than elections, it also requires institutions” . Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, argued for infrastructure: “If one wants to promote good governance and democracy, one needs a people that are able to access the information that enables them to do that. In many underdeveloped countries, infrastructure is a major constraint to development Putting emphasis on building infrastructure is very important and that in itself will foster the processes of development.”
Global media activists criticized control over media and proposed alternatives
A three day Medifes was held in Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Japan from 20-22 September 2009 organized by OurPlanet-TV, a network of media activists based in Tokyo. The conference was attended by a large number of stakeholders from Japan and international civil society organizations.
Tokyo Medifes 2009 is an annual event of alternative media, community media and citizen media held in Japan. Participants of the conference shared and discussed the experience on media and proposed alternatives while media in a global corporate control.
Hajime Shiraishi, the Representative of OurPlanet-TV told the conference to uphold the alternative media and citizen broadcasting realizing the diversity and publicity of wide range of stakeholders to really make media benefit for the people.
The southern countries are suffering from the global climate change impacts and the northern countries should compensate them for the ecological degradation speakers said in a panel discussion on 'Climate justice towards CoP 15 Copenhagen, ecological debts: We are the creditors' jointly arranged by EquityBD, Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Philippines, Media Foundation for Trade and Development, SUPRO, VOICE and Unnayan Onneshan at the National Press Club on 27th of July 2009, Dhaka.
Lidy Nacpil, convenor of Jubilee South-APMDD, a regional network in the Philippines, referred the example of the Bolivian government which formally placed the demand of ecological debt to UNFCC in its Bonn conference in June.She said the north has exploited the rights of all human beings who have equal shares to the global commons which include ozone layer, air and on natural resources. These global commons should be utilised in equitable and sustainable way. The north has exploited those and also created negative consequences like present climate crisis.
[VOICE, Dhaka, 14 July 2009] Speakers at a sharing meeting held today in Dhaka stressed the need for water access rights to be guaranteed by supply management systems across all municipalities in Bangladesh. The group concurred that this could only be achieved through greater transparency and accountability.
Organized by VOICE, a research and activist group, the roundtable was held in the city’s SUPRO’s meeting room. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE presented the meeting with the findings of research conducted by VOICE on water sector transparency and accountability in the Mymensingh municipality.
“The municipality only supplies four hours of water per day, which causes serious problems for consumers.” Said Ahmed Swapan. “Twenty-five percent of our research participants said that they have been victims of fake billing, while ninety percent complained that they did not receive a regular water supply.”
The research reveals that consumers suffer due to consistent impurities with the water supply, as seventy-six percent of users are dissatisfied about the cleanliness of their municipal water. The findings also show that only twenty-two percent of residents are covered by the municipality's water supply, while other seventy-eight percent are forced to collect water from different sources.
[Dhaka, 5 July 2009] Speakers in a seminar spoke about how neoliberal policy doctrines have failed to reduce poverty or ensure social protection for the poor. Neoliberalism has not only had devastating consequences in developing countries like Bangladesh, it has also shaken the northern economy.
The seminar titled `Neoliberalism, Poverty and Social Protection Policies’ was held in the city’s national press club today. It was organized by VOICE, a research and public education organization and moderated by its executive director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud. The panel included Monower Mustafa, a researcher and development activist; Mohsin Ali, Coordinator of Governance Advocacy Forum; and Saiful Haq, Genral Secretary of Biplobi Workers Party. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud also presented Voice’s keynote paper at the seminar.
“Neoliberal policies have been proved ineffective and have failed to offer any better solution for society.” said Ahmed Swapan Mahmud. “Rather, they create marginalization, deprivation, economic injustice, insecurity and poverty at large.” Mentioning existing Social Safety Net Programms (SSNPs) he told the seminar that these ad-hoc measures are merely neoliberal tools, while the programmes do not play any real role reducing poverty.