The Gezi trial, where 16 civil society activists and human rights defenders face possible life sentences for attempting to overthrow the government, has been a “tragic case study of the breakdown of the rule of law in Turkey,” Turkey Program Coordinator Merve Tahiroğlu wrote for the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)*:
The trial is also emblematic of the country’s ongoing crackdown on civil society and the human rights community, Tahiroğlu said, calling the charges absurd and baseless. A Turkish court on Tuesday ruled for the continuation of Osman Kavala’s arrest, defying the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling for the Turkish philanthropist’s immediate release. Observers have described the decision “as another marker of the lack of judicial independence in Turkey,” Tahiroğlu said.
The social history of the MENA region is a history of social mobilization and the emergence of civil society, according to a recent analysis. Across the Arab world, ordinary citizens have collectively engaged in resistance, advocacy, and contention to advance their desires for as long as there have been authoritative structures of oppressive power, Sean Yom writes in Societies of the Middle East and North Africa: Structures, Vulnerabilities, and Forces.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) for programs that support and encourage the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms through creating an enabling environment for civil society in the Middle East and North Africa.
Statements of Interest (SOI) should propose programs designed to foster the holistic security and resilience of DRL partner organizations and other civil society organizations operating in closed and closing spaces across the MENA region. Program activities should include the following:
- Targeted digital, physical, and psychosocial safety training and capacity-building for civil society organizations in the MENA region, to be selected in close consultation with DRL;
- Small grants for trained organizations to implement recommendations from the broader program;
- Ongoing support, guidance, and/or mentoring to beneficiary organizations as needed.
*A partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).