47 episodes

Where is democracy heading? Is our freedom in danger? Inspired by the global COVID-19 lockdown, the #Forum2000online Chats offer interviews with politicians, experts, human rights defenders, journalists and diplomats – relevant and interesting people from the Forum 2000 network - discussing the most significant current developments and looking at how they impact the future of democracy and freedom. Governments tend to accumulate power in times of crisis - and we need to make sure they renounce it, once normalcy returns!

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Where is democracy heading? Is our freedom in danger? Inspired by the global COVID-19 lockdown, the #Forum2000online Chats offer interviews with politicians, experts, human rights defenders, journalists and diplomats – relevant and interesting people from the Forum 2000 network - discussing the most significant current developments and looking at how they impact the future of democracy and freedom. Governments tend to accumulate power in times of crisis - and we need to make sure they renounce it, once normalcy returns!

    Yana Gorokhovskaia: Transnational Repression: Authoritarian tactics to silence dissent across borders

    Yana Gorokhovskaia: Transnational Repression: Authoritarian tactics to silence dissent across borders

    In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Yana Gorokhovskaia, senior research analyst at Freedom House and a coauthor of “Defending Democracy in Exile”, joined Hasler Iglesias, Venezuelan democracy activist and member of the National Committee of Voluntad Popular, to talk about the findings of the report on transnational repression published last June.

    According to Yana Gorokhovskaia, you will learn that: 

    Transnational repression is a set of wide universe of tactics that governments use to reach across borders in order to silence dissent. It can take the form of physical tactics (assassinations, detentions, assaults, kidnappings, etc.) or non- physical or indirect tactics (pressure on family members, harassment online, etc.). Authoritarian regimes need to silence those who would speak out against them, not only inside their own borders but increasingly outside of their borders.
    To silence dissent is effective in a lot of cases, especially when it comes to people's family members.
    Potential targets do not travel or only travel to a few places in the world because they are worried about being kidnapped.
    The people who are being targeted do not have access to any special government, military or scientific information. They are being targeted not because it would give some kind of advantage to the targeting state in the classic kind of cold war espionage situation. They are being targeted because they are speaking out for fundamental human rights.
    There are people who continue their activism in spite of being targeted. There are mitigation measures that involve digital hygiene (not sharing location or information about immediate family, being careful with devices). Some companies offer technological solutions to people who need protection.
    Fighting transnational repression requires mitigating harassment and actions against dissidents and preventing or deterring authoritarian states from applying their tactics. Sanctions, visa bans, and looking at diplomatic staff that is stationed in a country to make sure that they are not perpetrating transnational repression are useful measures. Another strong signal is limiting security and financial assistance to governments that engage in transnational repression.
    Sometimes democratic governments reject people who are seeking asylum. This is a practice that puts them in danger because potential targets are less safe in non-democratic countries.
    In a globalized world, what happens within authoritarian states in their own territories is not limited to just that territory. It extends far beyond.
    Transnational repression endangers the quality of our freedoms and rights and also threatens our institutions and national security. This is an issue for all of us, whether or not we are living in exile and whether or not we ourselves come from an authoritarian state.

     

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    • 15 min
    Rushan Abbas: How Bachelet and the United Nations have failed the Uyghurs in China and the Human Rights

    Rushan Abbas: How Bachelet and the United Nations have failed the Uyghurs in China and the Human Rights

    Did Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations fail the Uyghurs in China? How? Why?

    In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Rushan Abbas, the founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs based in Washington D.C., U.S., joined Kateřina Procházková, analyst at Sinopsis, a project of the Institute of East Asian Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, to talk about the current situation in Xinjiang and to answer these questions.

    According to Rushan Abbas, you will learn that:

    Millions of people are missing and the current situation is very bad. A genocide is taking place and innocent people are sent to concentration camps and forced labor facilities.
    Uyghur women are victims of sterilizations and forced abortions. Children are taken from their families and sent to state-run orphanages.
    The regime operates a surveillance system with social credit, tracking devices on vehicles and QR scanning codes on homes.
    Beijing operates combining ultra-nationalistic policies with racism and cutting-edges technology.
    Michelle Bachelet failed her own office and her responsibility as a High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her visit legitimized the Chinese government's genocide perpetrated against the Uyghurs and her comments served the Chinese Communist Party propaganda machine and narrative.
    For the Chinese regime, “human rights” are not universal. Human rights “with Chinese characteristics” are whatever the Chinese government decides they are. The regime basically treats Uyghurs as secondary citizens in their own homeland.
    China is the second largest donor to the UN. It has the power to influence who is going to be the head of which council. In addition, the trade threats, the Belt and Road Initiative and the debt trap diplomacy are important factors to be considered.
    The Human Rights Council is not only disappointing the Uyghurs and failing to protect them, but also failing the founding principles of the United Nations. This jeopardizes freedom and democracy in the world. Democratic nations must stop the violation of human rights and apply the necessary sanctions.

    The interview was recorded on July 11, 2022, and moderated by Kateřina Procházková, analyst at Sinopsis, a project of the Institute of East Asian Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

    In cooperation with Sinopsis.

    For more information about our activities follow our web and social media:
    Web: https://www.forum2000.cz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forum.2000
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Forum_2000

    • 18 min
    Marcel Oppliger: Democracy in Chile: Is the rewrite of the Constitution failing?

    Marcel Oppliger: Democracy in Chile: Is the rewrite of the Constitution failing?

    Is Chile’s Rewrite of the Constitution failing? Is Chilean democracy on the brink and the “Chilean Miracle” just falling apart? In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Marcel Oppliger, a Chilean journalist and editor at Diario Financiero, joined Jessica Ludwig, Director for Freedom and Democracy at the George W. Bush Institute in the U.S., to talk about the current situation and to try to answer these questions.

    According to Marcel Oppliger, you will learn that:

    In October 2019, in the midst of social unrest and violence, some groups, mostly related to the left, started pushing the idea that the way out was a change in the constitution, even though the protests had nothing to do with it.
    After a political negotiation in November of that year, it was agreed to have a referendum on changing the constitution under the message that the current text is “Pinochet's constitution”. That is not true because it has been amended several times in the last 30-40 years.
    In 2005, President Ricardo Lagos, who is a socialist, enacted important reforms and declared that finally Chile had a democratic constitution for a democratic country.
    The referendum agreed in November 2019 was held in October 2020 and an overwhelming majority (78%) voted to write a new constitution. As a result, there was a subsequent process to elect a constitutional convention of 155 members, most of them ordinary citizens with no expertise at all in the legal field or in the democratic process.
    The members of the convention has understood that their work was not to improve the institutional framework but to completely “refound” the country. Constitutional experts warn that the proposal is radical and one of them said that it sends Chile “back to the 17th century”. Other experts say that the draft of the constitution, which declares Chile a “plurinational state”, is “a copy of the Bolivian constitution”.
    Now, on September 4, a new referendum will be held to approve or reject the new constitution, but things have changed. According to the polls, a majority of Chileans would reject the draft.

    The interview was recorded on June 27, 2022, and moderated by Jessica Ludwig Director for Freedom and Democracy at the George W. Bush Institute in the U.S.

    For more information about our activities follow our web and social media:
    Web: https://www.forum2000.cz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forum.2000
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Forum_2000

    • 21 min
    Ladan Boroumand: Are the Iranians ready for democracy?

    Ladan Boroumand: Are the Iranians ready for democracy?

    In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Ladan Boroumand, cofounder of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran, joined Hasler Iglesias, a Venezuelan activist for democracy and member of the National Committee of Voluntad Popular, to talk about the current situation in the country and the Iranian freedom movement. In the interview, Dr. Boroumand explains that the ecological, economic, and political scenario is critical and that the government is “destroying the system”. “The DNA of the Islamic government is not turned to the management of the country. It’s turned to God and to impose the God's will upon the world”, says Dr. Boroumand. In this context, what is the situation of the freedom movement? Are Iranians ready for democracy? What are the opportunities and challenges?

    According to Ladan Boroumand, you will learn that:

    Iran has been in turmoil for four years. There have been uprisings and protests against a government that lacks the skills and the know-how of management. The country has serious water, ecological, economic, and political problems.
    Today, the number of people who are against the regime is more important than the number of people who support the regime, but the latter has been very effective in imposing its narrative and using violence against the Iranian society and the world.
    The control of society is much more difficult today. The digital revolution has played an important role because people, by seeing each other online, notice that they have power, the “power of the powerless”. There is concern about the impact of the digital revolution on established democracies, but in totalitarian regimes digital revolution has been very helpful.
    The digital revolution with its means and tools, the only “weapons” Iranians have, has empowered the Iranian society. Citizens have used it in many ways building up a counternarrative and showing to Iranians and to the world that the ideal Islamic Iran portrayed by the regime’s propaganda does not exist.
    The interaction and the articulation between virtual and real spaces have created a new dynamic that poses a challenge to the regimen because it is difficult to control.
    Between 1997 and 2005, there was an important development of civil society organizations, many of them focused, for example, on human and women’s rights. But since 2005, the regime has been harassing activists and dissidents and destroying all these initiatives.
    Until 2001, Western liberal democracies ignored Iran and submitted to its official narrative. After 2001, they realized that Islamism has become a danger for democracies.
    Today, Iranians are culturally much more prepared for democracy than they were in 1979. The major obstacle is state violence. The interview was recorded on June 13, 2022, and moderated by Hasler Iglesias, Venezuelan activist for democracy and member of the National Committee of Voluntad Popular.

    For more information about our activities follow our web and social media:
    Web: https://www.forum2000.cz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forum.2000
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Forum_2000

    • 16 min
    Inna Pidluska: Civil society in Ukraine and the post-war future

    Inna Pidluska: Civil society in Ukraine and the post-war future

    In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Inna Pidluska, Deputy Executive Director at the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), Ukraine, joined Arzu Geybulla, a journalist and member of the Forum 2000 Program Council, to talk about civil society in Ukraine and the post-war future. In the interview, Inna Pidluska explains that "Ukraine is fighting the existential war for its right to be, for its right to exist as an independent European democratic nation which has the human rights values and human dignity at its core, which has the European integration ambition, which is now becoming a reality. And the civil society is really part of this process". What is the role of civil society in wartime? What are the current and post-war challenges? Is there hope for a successful reconstruction of Ukraine?

    According to Inna Pidluska, you will learn that:

    There is a lot of work that civil society is already doing and it is to respond to immediate needs. Communities are working to provide people with shelter, opportunities and support, helping them to recover from trauma and also to think about how to plan their lives. The civil society organizations are heavily involved in providing emergency assistance.
    At the same time, civil society organizations are moving from emergency response to long- or medium-term ideas and solutions. Ukrainians are already thinking about the future reconstruction of Ukraine in the post-war period.
    The international and national support and solidarity with Ukraine have been immense. That is moral and practical support: money, food, equipment. Ukrainian civil society and volunteers make sure that this aid reaches people in need in the most effective way. One of Ukraine's challenges is to repair the enormous damage caused by the Russians to cities, infrastructure, the economy and the educational system. Thousands of schools are now affected and unable to operate. Hundreds of them have been destroyed. Many school-age children had to leave their homes. There is also great damage done to the health system. The Russians have been deliberately targeting schools and hospitals. This is a war crime and civil society organizations are helping people cope with this trauma.
    There is a lot of work being done by civil society to document war crimes and crimes against humanity and to make sure that the perpetrators at the highest level, not just the immediate perpetrators who have been killing, raping and maiming Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied territories, be brought to justice.
    Civil society has a very important role to play in making sure that reconstruction is people-centred and accountable to citizens at all levels. The main goal is to rebuild a vibrant Europe and successful Ukraine. The interview was recorded on May 13, 2022, and moderated by Arzu Geybulla, a journalist and member of the Forum 2000 Program Council.

    For more information about our activities follow our web and social media:
    Web: https://www.forum2000.cz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forum.2000
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Forum_2000

    • 28 min
    Dan Schueftan: Ukrainian lesson: If you want peace, prepare for war

    Dan Schueftan: Ukrainian lesson: If you want peace, prepare for war

    In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Dan Schueftan, Head of the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel, joined Martin Ehl, a journalist and Chief Analyst of Hospodářské noviny (ihned.cz), to talk about the war in Ukraine. "From the Israeli point of view, what Russia is doing in Ukraine is barbaric and is a major danger to the world order", Dr. Schueftan said. How is the war perceived in the Middle East? What is the position of Israel? What lessons can be learned globally from the Russian invasion of Ukraine? According to Dan Schueftan, you will learn that:

    Israel is being careful and is not seeking a military confrontation with Russia in the Middle East. "We have a strong Russian force on our border and we have a vital interest, an existential interest, in continuing to hit the Iranian bases in Syria”.
    If societies do not recognize that there is evil and that war is possible, then they will forget to defend themselves. Europe and democracies in general are learning now the lesson.
    The only way to stop the war is to deter the enemies by being strong enough. Now that Europeans, Americans and Western societies understand that it is necessary to be prepared for war, "you can better understand what is happening in the Middle East, not only from an Israeli point of view, but from everybody in the Middle East who doesn’t want to be subjugated to Iran". This is a very important lesson to understand globally.
    When there is a bigger threat, then forces will come together that otherwise would not come together. That is why there is an Arab-Israeli coalition against Iran.
    Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the major change of attitude is seen on the left: in Germany, a Chancellor from the SPD is doubling the defence budget and a democrat in the US now understands that "against Russia, even if you are not going to war, at least you have to help other countries to go to war".
    Democracy needs also to defend itself domestically from enemies. If no meassure against them is taken, they will destroy democracy

    The interview was recorded on May 6, 2022, and moderated by Martin Ehl, a journalist and Chief Analyst at Hospodářské noviny (ihned.cz), Czech Republic

    For more information about our activities follow our web and social media:
    Web: https://www.forum2000.cz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forum.2000
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Forum_2000

    • 13 min

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