Issue 256

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Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights” held in Bratislava

On October 26-28 in Bratislava, Slovakia, there was held the Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights” organized by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) under the patronage of the Slovak Presidency in the Council of the European Union. It was initiated by the EaP CSF Working Group 4 “Contacts between People” and brought together over 120 genuine young activists from the Eastern Partnership countries, Russia and the EU who vigorously advocate human rights and the democratic development of their societies.2

The main aim of the conference was to facilitate cooperation between the participants and to create stronger and trust-based links for the future. Besides the sessions in plenary, the participants worked together within the workshops entitled Youth for democracy, Youth for environment, Youth for inclusion and diversity, Youth for education, and Youth at work. 4

Young human rights activists, their organizations and civic initiatives should be encouraged. We should make their voices heard. They should become the shapers of the youth policy in the EU Member States and EaP countries,” commented Hovsep Khurshudyan, EaP CSF Steering Committee Member, Working Group 4 and main conference coordinator.

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The idea of the conference was born during the EaP Platform 4 meeting in Brussels on 14 December 2015, the event was consequently included into the EaP 2016 working plans, and stands out as a positive example of efficient cooperation with the civil society within the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership policy.

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At the end of the event the participants adopted a Declaration on human rights and a Resolution on the immediate release of all political prisoners in the EaP countries and Russia.

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Resolution of the Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights”

On immediate release of all political prisoners in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russian Federation

28 October 2016

Bratislava, Slovakia

The Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights”, organized by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and held in Bratislava, Slovakia on 26-28 October 2016, condemns the illegal imprisonment of human rights and civic activists in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and Russian Federation, and demands the release of all political prisoners remaining in jail.

The arrests of these activists who qualify as political prisoners and hostages including those captured in occupied should not be tolerated since they are jailed for opposing and criticizing the government, as well as expressing their political views. The current authoritarian regimes are trying to curb the activities of the civil society in those countries. Such persecutions inevitably lead to lack of political pluralism in the public space.

Mass repressions of various ferocity against active citizens and their family members continue up to this day. The people of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia face complete disregard of human rights and democratic freedoms.

The continuous detention of political prisoners constitutes a flagrant violation of fundamental principles set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and other international human rights documents, in particular, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association. We urge the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian and Russian governments to release all political prisoners remaining behind bars, both their own and foreign citizens.

Political prisoners in these countries need the solidarity of the international community. This non-compliance of the governments must not be ignored and should be addressed by the international human rights organizations, as well as the United Nations, European Union and the United States. The European Union institutions should make every effort in its Neighbourhood Policy for immediate and unconditional release of these prisoners. The EU should also review its policies in order not to contribute to the violations of rights in these countries.

It is our ultimate wish that all political prisoners in the EaP countries and Russia receive the due process they are entitled to. We thank the civil society community for their efforts in this field and encourage the EaP CSF National Platforms and civil society in Russia to continue putting pressure on the respective governments.

Participants of the Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights”

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Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Youth Conference “Youth for Rights”

28 October 2016

Bratislava, Slovakia

We, the young people from the Eastern Partnership countries, European Union member states and Russia, who are seeking to promote freedom and justice in our countries, are determined to continue the struggle against lawlessness, corruption, inequality, injustice, and hatred for the sake of the victory for human rights.

We will continue our fight until the ideals of democracy and human rights, of humanism and solidarity, freedom of expression and rule of law triumph in all our countries. We will not stop until our citizens, who are fighting for these ideals, remain in prisons or other punitive institutions of authoritarian regimes who illegally restrict their freedom, while other activists are subjected to political persecution and repression.

We will carry on our work to eradicate the hatred and xenophobia that are the main causes of persecution in our countries, of violation of rights and dignity on the basis of gender identity or expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion; and until the pursuit of happiness, dignity and freedom of each person is ensured.

We will continuously defend our right to a healthy environment, promote the idea of sustainable development, environmentally friendly behaviour and responsible use of natural resources and national wealth by our governments.

We will defend the right to quality formal education and equal access, as well as work for the comprehensive development of non-formal learning, which lead to the humanistic enlightenment of people and should become available to every person in our countries.

We will actively fight for the right to work and decent remuneration, right to qualitative and remunerated internships, ensuring high work environmental standards, including the right to a proper rest from labour, which should be fully implemented in our countries.

Taking into account the importance of the above-mentioned, we declare with full responsibility that we will make every effort and use every resource at our disposal, in order to achieve the goals of sustainable development in the context of contemporary challenges young people face in our countries. We therefore call upon all European and national public institutions and civil society organizations in our countries to join this Declaration in order to promote human rights and freedoms in our societies.

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