2 September 2001, Volume 2, Number 34
INTERNATIONALFIRST, SECOND, AND X GENERATIONS OF RIGHTS? Ratified by the United Nations after the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are usually known as the "first generation" of rights. These documents, the traditional bedrock of Western human rights advocacy, stress political and civil rights. The so-called "second generation" of rights, enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, was the old rallying cry for Soviet-style regimes. According to a special report ("The Politics of Human Rights") in "The Economist," leading Western human rights groups may be rethinking their strategies. ("The Economist," 18-24 August)
ADVOCACY ONLINE -- DESIGNING ELECTRONIC PETITIONS. The E-Petition website provides lots of links to support advocacy work online. For queries, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information go to: http://www.kabissa.org/kfn/newsletter.php?id=2408 (Democracy IT, 25 August)
THE SEVEN RULES OF NATIONALISM. The following is a tongue-in-cheek e-mail that has been making its way around the Internet of late: 1. If an area was ours for 500 years and yours for 50 years, it should belong to us -- you are merely occupiers. 2. If an area was yours for 500 years and ours for 50 years, it should belong to us -- borders must not be changed. 3. If an area belonged to us 500 years ago but never since then, it should belong to us -- it is the Cradle of our Nation. 4. If a majority of our people live there, it must belong to us -- they must enjoy the right of self-determination. 5. If a minority of our people live there, it must belong to us -- they must be protected against your oppression. 6. All the above rules apply to us but not to you. 7. Our dream of greatness is Historical Necessity, yours is Fascism. (David C. Pugh, Norwegian Refugee Council) (MINERES, 1 August)
MACEDONIASURROI'S LETTER TO THE MACEDONIANS. The Kosovar publisher Veton Surroi wrote an "open letter to his Macedonian friends," which appeared in his daily "Koha Ditore" on 19 August.
In the introduction, Surroi says that he decided to write the letter after hearing from unidentified sources that officials within the Macedonian secret police believe him to be "the main ideologist of the UCK, adviser in political military matters to [UCK political leader] Ali Ahmeti and to [the head of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH)] Arben Xhaferi, as well as an adviser to the U.S. and other international mediators." Surroi says that he has therefore decided to publish his views about the conflict in Macedonia now, rather than wait "until rumors about the octopus-man [Surroi] make it into the Macedonian press through the secret police's channels."
Surroi explains that the ethnic Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia do not consider themselves equals, even though they are very similar in many respects. In his words, "the Albanians look at the Macedonians as people who were equal [to them] over half a century ago, but who have begun to dominate" the country since the creation of the Macedonian nation-state [in 1991].
The ethnic Macedonians, however, "view the Albanians just as they viewed themselves over half a century ago," when the Macedonians were not recognized as a constitutional people within the framework of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Surroi adds that the situation is not unlike that between Israelis and Palestinians. He recalls that once during negotiations in Oslo, an Israeli negotiator broke the ice by telling the Palestinians: "Do you know why we hate you? Because you are so similar to us." A Palestinian responded by saying: "That's the same with us."
Surroi stressed that the Macedonian people still have problems in defining their identity. But he adds that, among all Macedonia's neighbors, only the Albanians have fully recognized the existence of the Macedonian people. In Bulgaria, the term Macedonia traditionally had a geographic meaning, describing a territory populated primarily by people of Bulgarian origin. Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of a separate Macedonian language as distinct from Bulgarian, but it quickly recognized its neighbor as an independent state. Serbia has politically recognized the Macedonians as a people, but not the autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church, which was part of the Serbian Orthodox Church until relatively recent times. And despite improvements in the diplomatic and economic relations between Greece and Macedonia in the past few years, Greece does not recognize a Macedonian, but only a Slavophone, community within its borders.
Surroi adds: "Isn't it weird that in the current conflict, [Macedonians] hate precisely those who have no problems with the identity of the Macedonian people? And [that the Macedonians] see the demand for the equality of the Albanian language as threat to the existence of the [Macedonian] state -- [a threat to the] identity of the Macedonian people?"
He argues that the concept and notion of an ethnically based state, rather than the identity of the Macedonian people, is at the core of the problem: "For the political elite...Macedonia is the only state where the Macedonian identity has developed, and that has happened through ... [the] dominance of Macedonians and of the Macedonian language."
But at the same time Surroi recognizes that Macedonia is a democratic country and stresses that the country has moved forward in building democratic institutions and in holding free elections. But these democratic procedures are not enough. Surroi wrote: "In a democratic and multiethnic society, where everything depends on the vote of the majority, those who are in the minority will constantly feel that they lack the power democracy offers. Thus, despite all the benefits that they have had from participating in governing coalitions, the Albanians remained powerless to bring about the changes that they have demanded since the creation of democratic Macedonia. These were demands for the equal use of the Albanian language, university education in their language, and proportional representation in state institutions. They have always been outvoted -- and not along political or party lines, but along ethnic lines."
Surroi acknowledges that "not every minority can expect to get everything it demands, and if it does not get everything, to set off a crisis that shakes the foundations of the state." He adds, however, that "what we see today...is [the result of] a lack of electoral democracy in dealing with the problems of an important group of citizens. Those citizens do not accept domination [by others] as a form of living together and have the force to make their views felt."
He nonetheless believes that "the Albanians and Macedonians are now in a situation where they can take a step beyond electoral democracy to consensual democracy, in which two things must not be allowed to happen: that the one side outvotes the ethnic minority, or that the other side blocks all manner of decisions on the basis of [claiming to protect] the ethnic minority." ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 21 August)
END NOTERUSSIAN ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS FAIL TO STOP CLEARING OF PINES ON GAZPROM PIPELINE ROUTE
By the Independent Environmental Service of the Western Caucasus
Russian environmentalists staged six days of dramatic protest actions to try to prevent the illegal logging of two species of endangered pines located along a route where Gazprom subcontractors are constructing a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey. By 24 August, over 2000 of these endangered "protected" trees had been cut down. Local militia were deployed to prevent activists from bringing the logging to a halt.
Environmentalists began their protests on 18 August. They tried to prevent loggers from cutting down protected pines by physically blocking trees -- the Crimean and Pitsunda Pines, listed in Russia's "Red Book" of endangered species -- that were designated to be cut down. The pines are located in the Arkhipo-Osipovskoe nature sanctuary near the town of Gelendzhik, Russia, in Krasnodar Krai. The reserve is located along the route where Gazprom, the Italian firm ENI, and its subcontractor Saipem are constructing the "Blue Stream" gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey.
Socio-ecological Union (SEU) spokesperson Andrei Rudomakha said, "This last-resort method of protest was provoked by an unprecedented act of law-breaking -- the illegal cutting down of an expanse of endangered trees within a nature reserve." Two protesters were nearly injured on 20 August, when they obstructed the loggers' path. Ironically, the only direct action that appeared effective was when activists physically "hugged" the endangered trees, preventing workers from cutting them down. This "tree-hugging" tactic prevented further logging, if only temporarily.
Representatives from the Italian firm Saipem did not attempt to restrain their workers and instead informed activists through an interpreter that, "The authorities of Krasnodar Krai have allowed us to cut here." Activists said that the loggers are growing used to the protesters' presence, and have even expressed sympathy for them. Nevertheless, many loggers contend that protection attempts are, as one logger put it: "hopeless, because this forest has all been sold from the very top in Moscow."
In addition to direct protests, environmentalists also sent letters to the media and to Amirkhan Amirkhanov, head of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Department, calling for an immediate halt to the "environmental law-breaking" in the nature sanctuary. Last year, the administration of President Vladimir Putin merged the federal department responsible for environmental protection into the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is charged with facilitating the extraction of natural resources. Environmentalists also contend that the destruction of a "unique natural treasure" is in blatant violation of three sections of the Russian Criminal Code. According to very clear provisions in the Russian law on nature protection, the activists claim, the disputed parcel of land cannot be exempt from protection.
To the activists' dismay, environmentalists have lost their struggle to save the rare pine trees in this nature sanctuary. According to the Independent Environmental Service of the Western Caucasus, "This tragic outcome underlines the fact that the Russian government machine is unable to protect its environmental resources and unable to enforce even its own laws -- which it is responsible for enforcing. [The Russian government] has completely different priorities -- its own economic gain. We expended titanic efforts to prevent illegal logging through official channels, but failed. Even though these trees were absolutely exempted from being cut down, not one government body responsible for enforcing environmental law has stood up against Gazprom."
For more information on this issue, contact A.V. Rudomakha of the SEU: email@example.com, Aleksei Knizhnikov, ISAR-Moscow: firstname.lastname@example.org, or to receive the full text of the environmentalists' statements in Russian, contact John Deever, ISAR-Washington DC, at email@example.com.