Tuesday, November 15, 2011

International Day for Tolerance, Republic of Macedonia

International Day for Tolerance
Press release, November 16, 2011

Ethnically motivated tensions and violence amongst young Macedonians and Albanians; institutionalized and social discrimination on ethnic, gender, social, and sexual orientation; deeply rooted prejudices and hatred; rising ethnic, religious, social and political divisions – are the ingredients of the society in the Republic of Macedonia nowadays. Respect for human rights and freedoms, rule of law and freedom of speech are in a free fall. Silence and fear are widespread in the country. The list goes on. Quality education, health and social services, fair employment policies, access to justice, respect for ethnic and cultural diversity are in a phase of extinction from the lives of the country’s citizens.
Following the trends of deterioration of the situation with human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Macedonia on the occasion of the International Day of Tolerance, we express our deep concerns.
We appeal to the relevant state and societal actors to give up current policies and practices, and take immediate measures to end discrimination and violation of human rights and freedoms in the country.
We call for tolerance amongst citizens of this country, mutual respect and solidarity – in spite of the damaging influence of politicians.
Tolerance is the path that will bring more justice, liberty and equality to the lives of each and every one of us. Nationalism, chauvinism and hatred will only bring disarray and destruction.
We invite you to mark this day with tolerance and respect for diversity. Share your story with us. Tell us of injustice you experienced or a positive example of tolerance and respect for your rights and freedoms.
Click http://tolerance-mk.blogspot.com for tolerance!

Call to action and support
Civil – Center for Freedom reaffirms the last year’s slogan on the occasion of the International Tolerance Day: JUSTICE! LIBERTY! EQUALITY!
We call upon all goodwill people to make a personal contribution to improvement of the world through practicing tolerance in their own families, in the neighborhoods, and workplace.
Civil invites all of its activists to support the March for Tolerance that will be held in Skopje, November 16, at noon.
Civil supports and joins all activities of civil society organizations that are in favor of enhancement of tolerance and respect for human rights and freedoms.
Once again, we invite all citizens and organizations to share their story of tolerance with us.

UN Secretary-General's Message for the International Day for Tolerance
This is a period in which the old world is slowly but irreversibly changing and the contours of a new one are just beginning to take shape. Traditional institutions are being challenged. Budgets are being squeezed. Families are being stressed. All of this flux and churning creates enormous anxiety.
At times of change, we must stay true to the ideals and principles that are at the heart of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among those core values is tolerance. Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful coexistence, crucial as that is. It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others.
This is especially critical in combating the discrimination that causes so much divisiveness, destruction and death. We all have a responsibility to protect those vulnerable to discrimination, whether based on race, religion, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. Practicing tolerance can serve as the antidote to prejudice and hatred.
UNESCO plays a special role in fostering active tolerance by promoting quality education for all girls and boys; advancing a free and pluralistic media, including on the Internet; and protecting cultural heritage and nurturing respect for cultural diversity.
As we face the complex and global challenges of our times, the United Nations will continue to work for mutual understanding among peoples and countries, a bedrock need in an interconnected world. As we mark this international day, let us remember that active tolerance begins with each of us, every day.
Ban Ki-moon


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


JOURNALIST HANDBOOK launch event, Skopje, November 1, 2011
Integrity and accountability of the journalist and journalism for their public voice, the confidence of citizens and society in media, as well as building and defending dignity of journalism as profession – represent the contents of the Journalist Handbook, launched today at the Club of Journalists in Skopje.
The aim of the Handbook is to remind journalists and media workers that their integrity, accountability and the role in the society can and have to be built only on basis of respect for law, the code of conduct, ethical principles, and professional rules, values, and practices.
The Journalist Handbook is a joint project of Civil Media, as organizational unit of Civil – Center for Freedom, and of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM). The project is financed by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Skopje, and is part of the Annual Program of Civil, supported by the Civica Mobilitas Programme, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), implemented by the Center for Institutional Development (CIRa).
The Handbook is prepared by the journalists Risto Popovski, Ilir Ajdini, Josif Curciev, and David Brewer, media expert from Great Britain.
The Handbook contains experiences from journalism in Norway that - according to the professional level and the role in the society - is amongst the best in the world. Experiences from Great Britain and Germany are used, as well, as countries where journalism has a long tradition and is characterized by high professionalism. It also contains the Code of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, as well as the annex Journalists Against Corruption.
The Journalist Handbook is published in Macedonian and Albanian language and will be disseminated to every journalist in the country. The President of Civil – Center for Freedom Xhabir Deralla, the President of ZNM Naser Selmani, and the Project Manager Risto Popovski spoke about the project at the launch today. David Brewer has sent a special video address on the occasion of this event.
“Journalists must never forget that the most important dimension of their work is the quest for truth. Journalists should choose between being journalists or merely propagandists in service of political power centers. Therefore, this Handbook is needed for journalists as a reminder of their role in the society. I will carry this Handbook with me from today. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia will take the responsibility to disseminate this Handbook to all its members and to enhance its activity among journalists in defense of their dignity and integrity” – said Naser Selmani.
“Journalists, for the sake of their own integrity and accountability, must not agree to fall under influences or be a subject to pressure, regardless of their background” – said Risto Popovski. He emphasized that “journalists have to persist in balanced reporting on important events, be critical observers, and initiate key issues and debates about important matters. Only by doing so, journalists and journalism may realize their role in the society, to contribute to achievement of human rights and freedoms, development of democracy and promotion of highest moral, human and cultural values”.  
“A society without independent and critical-thinking journalism is a backward society which violates human rights and freedoms, and nurtures values that belong to the darkest times of human civilization. The equation free media = democracy is correct and counts for all societies in the world. Yes, that is how important is journalism and that is why an organization such as Civil – Center for Freedom engages with media sphere, whilst being a human rights and freedoms organization. I have said many times and I will say it again: freedom is not negotiable” – said Xhabir Deralla.
“Journalists work under intense pressure. Not only from external sources such as politicians, businesses, criminals, but also from themselves. Probably, one of the biggest threats to journalism is self-censorship. Our work must be objective, fair, accurate, and impartial. And we need to be reminded constantly of the importance of our role in society. The challenge now is to follow up this handbook and analyze how it works in practice, and offer training and support to those who are trying to apply the guidelines, and support them along the way” – said David Brewer.
The Handbook will be available in Macedonian and Albanian language in the offices of Civil – Center for Freedom and the Association of Journalists of Macedonia. It will be disseminated to journalists and other interested parties at launch events throughout the country.