Face Up to Human Rights at Home or Lose Moral Authority, Conference Warns Germany
BRUSSELS, January 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
A research team comprising of academics, political analysts, human rights activists,
journalists and representatives of minority groups presented a study in Brussels Monday
that seriously questions human rights violations in Germany, concluding that the country
risks eroding its moral authority if it does not do more to protect fundamental rights
within its own borders.
The report, entitled “The Decline of Europe” was compiled with assistance of Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders and discusses Germany’s
record on fundamental freedoms relating to the treatment of peaceful protesters, minority
communities, and press freedoms.
Azerbaijani Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, President of the Public Union for Human
Rights, who was jailed for four years in his homeland presented the findings, which point
out that the value system in many Eastern European countries and former Soviet republics
is conditioned by the current crisis of liberal values and multiculturalism in Europe.
He says his first broad examination of rights throughout Europe began in Germany
because of what he read in his prison cell – an account of the suppression of protesters
at the Occupy Frankfurt protest and a similar police action to break up a demonstration in
Stuttgart opposed to the development of a railway line.
“I was shocked that peace protesters were dealt with this way for their attempts to
protect the environment,” he told the event at the Brussels Press Club.
The suppression of these protests has since raised further questions about free speech
and assembly in Germany, which is guaranteed under Article 8 of the country’s
In order to curtail such protest activity, the event was told, police resorted to
stopping buses on the way into cities on the basis that they might be involved in protests
and even confiscated tents and sleeping bags. Restrictions were brought in to ensure no
more than 20 people could gather in one location. Thomas Occupy, an activist of the Occupy
Frankfurt Movement, said, “You looked at all these restrictions and asked yourself: is
this how our democracy is supposed to work?”
Fatullayev, who was awarded the UNESCO prize for world press freedom last year, told
the conference: “I came to the major conclusion that despite civilizational, technological
and economic contrasts between our regions, scores of European countries, particularly
Germany, are faced with numerous human rights problems as well.”
The conference was shown a documentary, which catalogued not just the suppression of
protest action, but also examined issues ranging from corruption to racism in Germany.
Conference guest Stephen Ellis, Programme Director of the International Press
Institute, warned that Germany has special responsibilities to developing nations given
that it is widely considered as a leader on fundamental rights. That he says, brings with
it special concerns.
“This presentation we saw today kind of turns the mirror back inward, and to see this
happening in Germany in a state that has been one of the leaders in promoting fundamental
freedoms is troubling as well,” he said.
“If Germany loses its credibility on these issues, other nations are not going to
The conference concluded that while few people doubt Germany’s well-meaning leadership
in mentoring, and at times criticising other nations over their human rights records, it
needs to ensure that it imposes the same high standards within its own borders it does to
developing and emerging nations.
SOURCE Public Union for Human Rights