Democracy & Security: Day 2- Dissident Row

A few political dissidents who could not be with us today…

This poster is hanging near the doorway of the Democracy & Security Conference.
(Click to Enlarge)
Day 2: Democracy & Security Conference– Prague, Czech Republic
June 6, 2007

Roundtable
THE ROLE OF DISSIDENTS IN SOCIETY DISSIDENTS DISCUSSING WITH:

JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR,
VÁCLAV HAVEL,
NATAN SHARANSKY
MODERATED BY JAN URBAN


Seated left to right: Female translator for Vaclav Havel, Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar

A list of a few of the international dissidents invited to speak at this session:

JOSÉ BRECHNER
MOHAMED ELJAHMI
AMIR ABBAS FAKHRAVAR
FARID GHADRY
SAAD EDDIN IBRAHIM
ISSAM ABU ISSA
CHEOL-HWAN KANG
ALEKSANDR MILINKEVICH
RAFAEL RUBIO

Panel description:

Unlike political and religious leaders, dissidents do not lead popular movements.
What is their most effective role? What real ability do they have to influence events? Can they bring about significant change? Should the free world support them? Dissidents do not wage their struggles against totalitarian regimes in a vacuum. They are not alone. Also fighting with them are other movements, which are often undemocratic, even antidemocratic. To what extent is cooperation between these movements and dissidents necessary? To what extent is it feasible? What alliances can be made? What policy should be followed vis-à-vis these movements? How can cooperation between dissidents from different countries be fostered and strengthened? How can their influence in their own countries be increased? What is more important: to support reforms or the people that demand them?

DISSIDENT ROW:

(Seated-Left to Right) ALEKSANDR MILINKEVICH– Aliaksandr Milinkevich is the leader of the “Movement for Freedom” in Belarus. After being elected in 2005 by the Congress of Democratic forces of Belarus, Mr. Milinkevich ran as the United Democratic Forces candidate in the 2006 presidential election in Belarus. Since 1996 he has been the Program Manager of the, “Foundation for Assistance to Local Development”. He is the author of 65 scientific works on quantum electronics, laser technical equipment, education, and architecture. Mr. Milkinkevich was awarded the “Order of Merits for Polish Culture” for the discovery of the burial place of Stanislaw Poniatowski, the last king of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

RAFAEL RUBIO– Rafael Rubio is the President of the Asociación Cuba en Transición. He is a political consultant and a professor of constitutional law at the Universidad Complutense. He has published works on the political system in Spain, the situation in Cuba and articles on the promotion of and transition to democracy, political participation, and e-democracy.

ISSAM ABU ISSA– Issam Abu Issa is the Chairman of I.A.S. International Holding, a Qatar-based company engaged in mining, banking, real estate, energy and commodities trading, among other endeavours, in key cities around the world, with a special emphasis on the U.S., Africa and Chinese markets. He was
also the Founding Chairman of the Palestine International Bank, which was confiscated by Yasser Arafat at the end of 1990. Chosen by the World Economic Forum as one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow in 2000, Abu Issa is an advocate of
peace and democracy as essential tools in achieving global economic and social growth. He is Special Presidential Envoy of the Central African Republic, providing socio-economic expertise as the country embraces modern democracy.

SAAD EDDIN IBRAHIM– Saad Eddin Ibrahim is the founder and chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo. He also serves as Secretary General of the Egyptian Independent Commission for Electoral Review, is a member of the Club of Rome, a trustee of the Arab Thought Forum, and the President of the Egyptian Sociologists Association. He was arrested in 2000 and sentenced to seven-years, but in 2003 Egypt’s highest appeal court declared his trials improper and cleared him of all charges. Mr. Ibrahim has been one of the Arab world’s most prominent spokesmen on
behalf of democracy and human rights.

FARID GHADRY– Farid Ghadry was born in Aleppo in northern Syria and grew up between Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut. He worked for EG&G, Intertech, and the International TechGroup. He has testified in the United States Congress on extremism and freedom in his capacity as the President of the Reform Party of Syria. He also
spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Harvard University, the European Parliament, the French Parliament, and the Belgian Senate. He is a member of the Committee on Present Danger. He holds a B.A. from American University in finance and marketing.

(Next is the translator for Amir Fakhravar- Cina Daestani)
AMIR ABBAS FAKHRAVAR– Amir Abbas Fakhravar is an Iranian writer, journalist and has been a student leader for more than a decade. He was a political prisoner who spent over five years in prison for his writings, interviews and role in the student movement. He suffered years of torture in jail, including the torture described by Amnesty International as “white torture.” He is an honorary member of English PEN Club, PEN Club Canada, and International PEN Club. He is the founder of the Confederation of Iranian Students and the leader of Independent Student Movement.

MOHAMED ELJAHMI Mohamed Eljahmi is a Libyan-American democracy activist and a software engineer. He is the author of many articles about Libya, which have appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, National Review Online, Wall Street Journal and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is the brother of prominent Libyan dissident Fathi Eljahmi.

(not seen-picture here) JOSÉ BRECHNER José Brechner is a former Bolivian Congressman and Ambassador (1985–1989), and a founding member of Accion Democratica Nacionalista. He was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Bolivian Congress, and represented the country at several international forums, including the Organization for American States (OAS). During his tenure, he was nominated by all Bolivian media as the “Best Congressman.” He is an Op-Ed writer and political analyst, with articles published in journals worldwide. Mr. Brechner is an active defendant of private property, free market economy, and individual freedom and rights.

(not seen in picture) CHEOL-HWAN KANG– Choel-hwan Kang
is the author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang, an account of the 10 years he spent as a child in the Yodok concentration camp in North Korea. Mr. Kang was taken to Yodok with his family at the age of nine. He was released in 1987. He lives and works as a journalist for the newspaper Chosun Ilbo in Seoul.

** Here is an extensive list of dissidents and speakers at the conference.


Left to right: Translator for Rebiyah Kadeer, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Rebiyan Kadeer at the Lord Mayor’s Residence in Prague. Rebiyah was not on this panel today.

President Bush mentioned Rebiyah in his talk yesterday

Another dissident I will meet here is Rebiyah Kadeer of the Xinjiang region of China, whose sons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for her human rights activities. The talent of men and women like Rebiyah is the greatest resource of their nations, far more valuable than the weapons of their army or their oil under the ground. America calls on every nation that stifles dissent to end its repression, to trust its people, and to grant its citizens the freedom they deserve.

Good Friends.

Here I am pictured with Former Prime Minister of Spain- Jose Maria Aznar, one of the co-organizers for the conference. Jose Aznar made a public commitment during the panel session to promote individual, political, economic and intellectual freedoms.

Another buddy-

Democracy leader Natan Sharansky and I yuck it up during a break.

Previously:
Prague Blogging- 2007 Democracy & Security Conference
Blogging From the Communist Parliament Building
A Night Out With Jose Maria Aznar, Vaclav Haval & Natan Sharansky
Senator Joe Lieberman Gets Personal in Prague
Democracy & Security: Has Democracy Reached an Impasse?
Democracy & Security: Does Democratization Mean Security?
Bush Rocks the Czernin Palace At Prague Democracy Conference
Garri Kasparov Joins Democracy Leaders at Press Gathering

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