ODF organises two side-events at OSCE HDIM 2019

  • 13.09.2019
  • Author: Xheni Dani

During the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, ODF will be in Warsaw with a delegation of human rights defenders and activists. The first event will take place on Wednesday 18 at 8:15 in Meeting Room 1.

18 September 2019, 08:15_09:45
Meeting Room 1

Suppressing Civil Society in China: Role Model for OSCE Authoritarian Members?

This summer’s large-scale protests in Hong Kong have been obsessing Chinese authorities, whose attempts to suppress them, actively employing their ambassadors to obtain condemnation of the protests from the European side, have shown once again their hostility towards civil activism. The controversial extradition law alarmed Hong Kong's society. Given China’s consistent abuse of mutual legal assistance mechanisms and INTERPOL’s Red Notices to persecute dissidents, this comes as no surprise.

Chinese policy of suppressing dissent has impacted also OSCE participating States. Some of them, primarily Russia and Kazakhstan, are not immune to similar forms of repression against anti-government demonstrations and seem to follow China’s worst practices.

Their authorities’ ignorance of resolutions and recommendations of international organisations, including the OSCE itself, jeopardises existing human rights protection frameworks and the credibility of the international order.

The leaderships of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey are focused on preserving the political status quo at all costs, leading to the disregard of international commitments and undermining of human rights mechanisms.

How can civil society shape the implementation policy of human rights bodies and hold autocratic states accountable? To what extent may OSCE’s democratic members enhance the effectiveness of rights protection frameworks and enforce the rules of the organisation?

During the discussion, civil society representatives and human rights experts from various OSCE countries will analyse the nature of China's fight with civil society and its spreading influence as well as present their ideas for a more effective cooperation in protecting fundamental freedoms.


Ralph Bunche – Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO); Ralph is the General Secretary of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization UNPO), an international membership-based organization established to empower the voices of unrepresented and marginalized peoples worldwide and to protect their fundamental human rights. Prior to joining UNPO, Ralph was a lawyer in private practice specialized on corporate crimes, including business and human rights, spent four years running the OSCE Mission in Kosovo's human rights and rule of law team, and was the Regional Director for Europe for Fair Trials, the international criminal justice watchdog that specializes in cross-border criminal cooperation mechanisms, such as Interpol, extradition, and the European Arrest Warrant. 

Dolkun Isa – the President of the World Uyghur Congress and Vice President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). He was a former student-leader of pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University in 1988 and founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 working on programs to eliminate illiteracy, promote science and lead other students in East Turkestan. He was then dismissed from university. After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe and became a citizen of Germany in 2006. He has since been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations. He has worked to mobilize the Uyghur diaspora community to collectively advocate for their rights and the rights of the Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

Antonio Stango – President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU). A political scientist, he has been working for human rights since the early 80s. In 1987 he co-founded the Italian Helsinki Committee and has since lead numerous NGOs and international projects. On behalf of the International Helsinki Federation he took part in missions in Romania, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan; on behalf of Hands Off Cain in four States in Central Asia and four in Western and Southern Africa; with various NGOs in four missions in Cuba and two in Iraqi Kurdistan; for the European Commission in Armenia, Russia, and Tajikistan. From 2003 to 2006 he was Project Director of the Freedom House Human Rights Training and Support Program in Kazakhstan. Currently, he co-organises and participates in several fact-finding and monitoring human rights missions.

Aliaskar Yerimbetov – son of political prisoner Iskander Yerimbetov. His father was arrested and sentenced in retaliation for the professional activity of his sister, Bota Jardemalie, a lawyer and political refugee in Belgium. Yerimbetov is detained in Kazakhstan since November 2017. During pre-trial detention he was subjected to torture. His case was recognised as politically motivated by international NGOs and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recognised his detention as irregular. Despite this, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Oguzhan Albayrak – former diplomat and current Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders e.V. (HRD) Association. Oğuzhan Albayrak started his career as a diplomatic agent in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey in 2009. As a Junior Diplomat he served in the General-Directorate of Bilateral Political Affairs - Europe and General-Directorate for European Union. He was assigned to the posts in various embassies of Turkey in Kuwait, Malta, Jerusalem (Consulate General) and Azerbaijan, respectively. He was dismissed from his position in February 2017, as a result of the massive political purge by the Turkish government against the dissidents. He is currently living in exile in Germany. HRD is a non-profit and independent civil society organization campaigning to defend human rights and to help people facing persecution all around the world with a special focus on Turkey.

Daniyar Khassenov – student and activist from Kazakhstan, he has been subjected to politically motivated persecution for monitoring and sharing information online about peaceful protests taking place in his country. In particular he was detained and interrogated by the police, subjected to an unjustified travel ban, which prevented him from leaving the country for several weeks despite holding a regular visa, his bank accounts were frozen, his family received numerous threats. He has now left the country, but his case is still pending.

The event will be moderated by:

Xheni Dani – Advocacy Officer at Open Dialogue Foundation. ODF is a human rights NGO working for the promotion of human rights and the end of politically motivated persecution in the post-Soviet area. ODF has worked for many years on countries such as Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, but also Azerbaijan, Turkey and Poland. ODF organizes advocacy and human rights monitoring missions and within OSCE, EU, and CoE countries, promoting the protection of fundamental freedoms, the reform of the INTERPOL and the adoption of the Global Magnitsky Act as a major tool against impunity.