NGOs, Civil Society Organizations Under Increasing Attacks
NGOs Under Assault Globally
Non-Governmental organizations across the world are coming under assault from governments that fear their advocacy and effectiveness, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
“Political opposition figures used to be the regimes’ prime target, but years of repression weakened them. As NGOs began surging in effectiveness and number (there are millions, perhaps tens of millions of NGOs today; no definitive number is available), they and their democracy and civil rights endeavors became the bigger threat for strongmen leaders,” writes Ariel Zirulnick.
The threat from NGOs is so great, some nations have attempted to demonize such groups among the public.
“For such legal maneuvers to work, the public needs to believe NGOs are in the wrong. Governments have enlisted the media and launched public campaigns demonizing foreign-funded groups.
“In Russia, the Duma, or parliament, passed laws in 2012 requiring all organizations that receive foreign money and engage in political activity to register as foreign agents,” Zirulnick adds.
This is also true in Egypt, where civil society groups have been targeted for years by multiple governments. As Nancy Okail of Freedom House notes, the difference today is that the government now has the support of the public.
“Unlike previous crackdowns, however, the current attack on civil society is drawing strong backing from the Egyptian public, large segments of which either support or do not oppose the efforts of military leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose stated aim is to preserve national security and unity against an imminent threat. In this context, the promotion of political freedom and human rights is deemed a secondary priority at best,” she writes.
Amnesty International recently documented a case in which two Armenian activists were assaulted in Yerevan.
“Suren Saghatelian and Haykak Arshamian were set upon by half a dozen men, in the courtyard of Haykak’s apartment building at around 10 pm on the night of 5 September. The assault lasted for less than two minutes, but the kicks and punches that were aimed at their heads left both men hospitalized,” says an Amnesty International press release.
American City Promoting Global Profile
As the American public continues to express its desire to step off the world stage, at least one local government recognizes the interconnectedness of today’s world and is seeking to capitalize.
The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs and the nonprofit Global Philadelphia Association have announced more than 100 public events to promote “international consciousness” and a “global profile” for the region, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is promoting a week of events to highlight the international characteristics of the city.