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Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right that has a firm basis in international human rights law and was reaffirmed by OSCE participating states in the 1990 Copenhagen Document. The right to assemble, demonstrate, picket, rally, march and protest is an important aspect of all democratic societies. As such, the freedom of peaceful assembly is associated with the right to challenge the dominant views within society, to present alternative ideas and opinions, to promote the interests and views of minority groups and marginalized sections of society, and to provide an opportunity for individuals to express their views and opinions in public, regardless of their power, wealth or status.
Public assemblies can be particularly important and prominent at times of political tension or when citizens are making demands for social change. Demonstrations and protests are often used in a variety of campaigns by political groups and are generally an important aspect of election campaigns. They can also be an important means of calling for change in contexts where more institutional mechanisms for effecting social change are not available.
Participation in public assemblies is a political right, the realization of which can give a public voice to those without access to their legislative bodies, those who lack representation through elections, or those with little or no opportunity to voice their opinions through the media. Furthermore, the right to peaceful assembly can play an instrumental role in building support for change or reforms, or in voicing discontent. In most cases, however, the mobilization of people through a public assembly is the most direct means of trying to influence government, reflect local opinion, or express views as part of the regular political process.

Freedom of peaceful assembly is an individual right that is always expressed in a collective manner. Such collective manifestations of individual views can be perceived as particularly threatening to the authorities in some contexts. And, because assemblies take place in public spaces and are used by diverse organizations, groups and individuals, they are very visible indicators of the level of tolerance and respect that is given to different political, social and cultural practices and beliefs. A government’s approach to assemblies can provide a clear indication of the respect that the state has for basic human rights. Indeed, exercising freedom of assembly often involves the exercise of other rights, including the freedoms of expression, religion and movement. At the same time, the prevention of assemblies might also go hand in hand with violations of the right to life, the right to be free from torture and the right to a fair trial.
When restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly take place, such actions usually have high visibility. They have an impact on a large number of people at the same time, and they are often widely reported in the media. They might provoke an immediate and public response, which might lead to a spiralling cycle of protest, repression and violence. The very visibility of freedom of peaceful assembly creates opportunities for monitoring the level of a state’s respect for this right and for documenting any infringements on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and associated rights.

OSCE participating states have recognized that NGOs can perform a vital role in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Istanbul 1999). This has been reaffirmed in the Astana Commemorative Declaration of 2010, which states that participating States value the important role played by civil society and free media in helping them to ensure “full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, including free and fair elections, and the rule of law”. In this context, civil society organizations can engage in monitoring the human rights situation in their country with respect to international human rights standards by producing reports based on their findings. These reports might highlight human rights issues, contribute to public discourse on human rights, and, ideally, lead to dialogue between civil society and gov- ernment, with the objective of advancing human rights and producing social change.

As with all human rights, the primary responsibility to promote and protect freedom of assembly lies with the state, but civil society organizations have a crucial role to play in monitoring the implementation of this freedom. Monitoring public assemblies is a complex operation, and monitors might focus on a variety of aspects, e.g., the policing of an event, including whether the state is fulfilling its positive obligations to uphold the freedom of assembly; whether parties adhere to any agreement reached as to the conditions for an assembly; the interaction between participants in a demonstration and counter-demonstrators; and the conduct of participants in an assembly near a particular location. The findings can highlight patterns of good practice, as well as
shortcomings and gaps in law, policy and practice in the management and policing of assemblies that require improvement.

From the introduction of Handbook on Monitoring Freedom of Peaceful Assembly


  1. Conflicts are at the essence of all human relationships characterized by contact and interdependence whether at the interpersonal, community, corporate, domestic, or international level. Disputes are necessary for progress because democracies, innovation, and diversity are built by new challenging ideas and a strong reactionary resistance to those ideas. The feud becomes destructive to levels neither one of the parties anticipated when one or both parties chose an outcome with high concern for self and zero concern for the other’s interest. This “selfish” choice makes them unable to negotiate a satisfactory agreement. The parties become blinded by added emotionally fueled issues throughout the life of the dispute; they lose sight of their chief complaints and become trapped in a spiral keeping them stuck in the past rather than looking forward towards the future.
    Religion is inherently extremist and dangerous when mixed with politics because its leaders make absolute truth claims based on beliefs in literal infallible scriptures. Marx held that religion is used by oppressors to make people feel better about being oppressed and accept the injustices and exploitation. This is very true when the dominant group uses religion to legitimize oppression and justify the use of power to dominate the all institutions in society in order to socialize and indoctrinate individuals to accept the power differences. When liberation occurs following a long period of depravation and injustice, many of the oppressed who directly or indirectly participated in the revolution are adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed and become oppressors. The result is a showdown between order and justice where those who claim legitimacy attempt to use their power, however, a predominantly controlling approach to power is likely to produce destructive outcomes; creating hostility and defiance in those subjected to the power.
    The dominant Islamist groups are now inclined to enjoy power, employ it, defend possessing it, and endeavor to hold on to it; “members of high power groups have higher aspirations and use more contentious tactics.” When the conflict is over identity and one of the party hold extremists views, conflict resolution is very unlikely as extremism is absolute and non-compromising. The Tunisian prospects for democracy are grim as the conflict is headed into a violent confrontation which will ultimately determine the fate of the country.
    Nonviolent actions are counterproductive when they will not produce the desired results since they loosen group cohesiveness rather than strengthen the bonds. Assembly and protests are forms of nonviolent actions, but the Tunisian uprising was not nonviolent; it was somehow peaceful as the protesters did not engage in wide spread of violence, but there sporadic occurrences of violence. The Islamist will not relinquish power after they seized it; radical Islamists’ culture is based on moral commands and aspirations that are rigid and impregnable. Their belief system is totalitarian, that is, it prohibits coexistence with different ideals and morals and asserts an absolute authority to regulate every aspect in the life of people under its jurisdiction. Their ultimate goal is to eradicate alternative forms of moral, social, and political though such as secularism and modernism from Muslim societies. Whether the conflict is constructive or destructive depends on the interest of the disputing parties, however, at times an otherwise cooperating party is forced into a competition because of the irrational escalation from other. Your protests are legitimate, but alone will not change history that will remain its course until the status-quo loses its legality and changing it through violence gains legitimacy.


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صباح المستشفى ...

لا يتردّد البعض في طرح سؤال لماذا ترفضين البقاء في المستشفى ؟ في كلّ مرّة تستوجب فيها حالتي ذلك فأخيّر البقاء في المنزل . سيداتي و سادتي أغلب من يطرحون هذا السؤال و يستنكرون فعلي و يعتبرونه تهاونا و دلالا زائدا أنتم لا تعرفون ذلك المكان أو لعلّكم لا تعرفون ماأصبح عليه ذلك المكان ...
يكفيني صباح في المستشفى كهذا الصباح لأفقد حيويّة أسبوع كامل و لأفقد القدرة على مقاومة المرض اللعين الذي يكبّلني :
ذاك الرجل أزرق العينين , صاحب الحذاء المعفّر بالأتربة و الغبار , صاحب الشاشية الحمراء ممشوق القامة الذي يترجّى العاملين في الادارة قبول ابنه للاقامة هناك لأنّه سيفقده اذ أنّ موعد قبوله قد أجّل مرّات و مرّات ...
يحاول و يحاول و يترجّى و لا يفقد الأمل يخرج قليلا و يعود ليترجّى من جديد ... مؤلم أن ترى فلذة كبدك يتألّم و مؤلم أكثر أن تشعر بالعجز .
ذلك الابن الذي يملك نفس العينين و نفس القامة الفارعة العاجز عن الكلام و المتألّم . ذلك الابن المتهالك و قد اتفخت قدماه فعجز عن النشي بطريقة طبيعية . يكتم ألمه أو يحاول شفقة بوالده .. . تلك العاملة في الادارة تقف عاجزة عن ايجاد حلّ في ظلّ فقدان الأسرّة الش…