Jun 15, 2009

Why do governments hate NGOs so much?

So it seems my favorite Caucasian country (seriously, I love Azerbaijan) is trying to amend a new NGO law that would make civil society work more difficult in the country. How? Well, take a look at some of the ammendments:

- Non-registered NGOs will be banned and administrative action will be brought against their founders (i.e. fine in for of Euro 50 000 and probably detention).
- NGOs can be registered only after the confirmation given by Ministry of Interior and Ministry of National Security.
- If an officially registered NGO does not have branches in one third of administrative districts of Azerbaijani Republic, it will not be allowed to hold any activities in the districts of the country.
- An NGO's budget cannot consist of more than 50% of foreign donations, and as almost all resources available in Azerbaijan are controlled by the government this implies that no civil society support projects can be conducted without the permission from the government.
- Foreign NGOs can operate in Azerbaijan only after bilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and their countries.

Honestly, before I get into what's being done about this, governments around the world, allowing NGOs makes for low-paying jobs that allow semi-academics to work and make enough to eat. Let them have their NGOs. Please.

In any case, several organizations in Azerbaijan have written an appeal to stop these amendments from passing. Find their appeals here and here and for our Azeri speakers, here. If you're convinced, support their cause.


Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

We should try and register ER as an NGO in Azerbaijan. Just to see what happens.

Ern said...

I wonder if we could prove we get more then 50% readership from Azerbaijan, and thus get half our funding from Azerbaijani sources?


Thank you for your voice! It is incredible, I just can't imagine what will happen when these amendments are accepted.

The NGO where I worked briefly, led by a prominent Azeri [woman] political analyst, is surely to be closed then - besides, if not closed she can't continue her regional conferences dedicated to promotion of democratic ideas. She has no funds to open branches even in 25 districts. And this will effectively kill ALL independent NGOs and thus civil society.

Another worrisome thing is that the government plans an assault on Internet freedom. At least two top officials voiced their concerns and they are not people that like to joke.