The Network for Protection from Discrimination reacts strongly and expresses its deepest concern following recent announcements in social networks made by representatives of the “Levica” political party with their public appeals for discrediting the civil society sector and threatening to restore the process of ‘de-sorosoisation.’
Such attacks on the civil society sector and on human rights activists are reflection of the former regime in the country where civil society organizations, as one of the most vocal critics and detractors of the former government in the country were often the targets of public condemnation and humiliation. For reminder sake, the process of the so called ‘de-sorosoisation’ which was in full swing back then, provoked intensive rants of hate speech against the champions of human rights and civil society organizations, with some of them even suffering different forms of physical harassment and threats for their lives.
The deliverance from the former regime brought about freedom for the civil society sector. The organizations and activists fighting for human rights were again included in the policy creation processes and have become a partner but also the corrector of government, thus helping the advancement and promotion of democracy in our country. Thus, such appeals of the leaders of “Levica” for renewal of the ‘de-sorosoisation’ process clearly open the path for reigniting hatred, violence and discrimination against human rights advocates, as well as for their public undermining, which poses a direct threat to the freedom and democracy in the country as the basic tenets which all CSOs stand for.
As a reminder, the role and importance of the civil society sector was underscored even in the latest Country Progress Report of the European Commission, and was identified as the key component of any democratic system. The report makes specific reference to its involvement in the drafting of all key laws, including here the Law on Prevention and Protection from Discrimination and the Law on Prevention and Protection from Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
The civil society has significantly contributed to the improved protection of human rights and fundamental liberties, especially via its help and assistance delivered to the most vulnerable categories of citizens. Namely, civil society organizations still represent key factor in the rendering of legal, social and health services to many vulnerable, socially excluded and minority community groups who are devoid of access to such types of services offered by public institutions.
Furthermore, one of the EU recommendations refers to the deepening of cooperation and strengthening the existing dialogue, especially within the inter-parliamentary groups which are largely pushed forward by the efforts made precisely by the civil society sector. After all, local authorities are continually recommended to continue engaging the grass-root organizations in policy creation and in the decision-making process.
Henceforth, we urge the representatives of “Levica” political party to stop spreading fallacies and hate speech against the civil society sector and cease all attempts for its delegitimizing, because the civil society sector not only (ought to) participate in the drafting of policies and be the watchdog of their implementation, but its absence would most directly jeopardize citizens’ rights, especially of the marginalized groups.
We also demand that the Basic Public Prosecution follows more attentively the hate speech in relation to the so called ‘de-sorosoisation’ activities and assumes a more active role for their sanctioning in order to ensure timely protection of the reputation and dignity of civil society organizations and human rights advocates.
Dragana Karovska Chemerska
075 533 567
Open Society Foundation – Macedonia
HERA – Health Education and Research Association
Stronger Together (Zaedno Posilni)
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
LGTBI Support Centre
HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje
National Network Voice Against Violence
ESE – Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women