Navanathem Pillay - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
FDPOC places much importance on face-to-face and close liaison with UN representatives. Not least of whom is the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Director Wissam Tarif has held discussions with the current incumbent (Ms Navanethem Pillay), in order to bring our specific concerns to her direct attention. We look forward to continue to develop the relationship as we work together on specific programs and issues.
Margaret Sekaggya - UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Supporting Human Rights defenders is a tough job, and one on which FDPOC places great emphasis. We were therefore very gratified when the UN decided to create the post of UN Special Rapporteur on this issue a few years back. Ms Sekaggya is the second person to occupy the post, and FDPOC has met with her to bring to her attention the issues which, in our view, must be tackled in order to carry out the difficult task before her. We have started addressing some of those issues directly with Ms Sekaggya, and look forward to the continuation of what is an already positive contact.
Conference 7-8 October 2008: 60 years of the Universal Declaration - the Defenders take the floor
As official participant in the Conference, held at the European Parliament and organised jointly between the EU, the UN and the Council of Europe, FDPOC was able to intervene with high level Diplomats of countries such as Iran, as well as meet face-to-face with representatives of the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Wide-ranging discussions on issues of concern to FDPOC took place.
Graham Watson, MEP, Leader of ALDE, the Liberal group in the European Parliament
FDPOC has made presentations to Mr Watson regarding its human rights and democracy concerns. He has proven to be interested, enthusiastic and helpful in our work and FDPOC will continue to forge strong cooperative links with Mr Watson and his Office.
Glyn Ford, MEP
Mr Ford is keenly interested in the issues of human rights in the countries represented by FDPOC. His Office continues to prove to be an interested and most helpful friend of our issues and concerns.
Michael Cashman, MEP
As Chairman of an EU Intergroup on minority issues, Mr Cashman and his Staffers have a particular interest in human rights and on the situation in the countries represented by FDPOC. We will continue to forge working links with those who, like Mr Cashman, are in a position to be able to influence a bettterment of the human rights situation of all citizens.
The House of Representatives
FDPOC has been consistently lobbying the House of Representatives regarding the human rights situation in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Committee on International Relations , as well as to Congressional members and staffers.
We frequently meet with Congressmen and women in other Committees resulting in dialogue between them and Saudi and Syrians officials in Washington with a view to urging them to address the cases of prisoners of conscience.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
When the U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Damascus, Syria in April 2007, our director, Wissam Tarif, met with Ms Pelosi just hours before she held a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. In the meeting, Mr Tarif urged the House Speaker to raise the issue of prisoners of conscience in her talks with the Syrian president.
Feedback later confirmed that the issue was raised with the Syrian president, and he had promised to look into the prisoners of conscience question in more depth. Especially into those who had not, as yet, been sentenced. Nevertheless, despite the promise, the silencing of Syrian voices and the detention of citizens guilty of no more than of freely expressing their desire for freedom and democracy continues unabated to this day.
Congressman Darrell Issa (Rep):
In 2007 shortly after House Speaker Pelosi visited Syria, Congressman Issa himself visited Damascus and was kind enough to invite the Directors of three human rights organizations for lunch at the American Ambassador’s Residence in Rawda Street, Damascus. During his visit, the Congressman raised prisoners of conscience issues personally with President al-Assad as well.
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID):
The center for the study of Islam and Democracy is a non-profit organization, dedicated to studying Islamic and democratic political thought. The Center aims to synthesise a modern Islamic democratic discourse. FDPOC works closely with the Center in its reforms of the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam”.
The National Democratic Center Institute for International Affairs (NDI):
NDI is the US Democratic Party’s counterpart to the International Republican Institute. It conducts non-partisan international programs to help maintain and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide. It focuses on party building, governance, and electoral systems. In a consultation meeting in 2005 with Senior Program Directors and Executives of NDI, FDPOC participated in presenting an in-depth view of two key issues: the status of Human Rights NGOs in Syria, and the particular scenarios before opposition political parties.
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR):
The Council is a forum where leaders from academia, government, business, non-profit organizations and the media come together to discuss the most important international issues. The council takes no institutional position on issues of foreign policy; it is host to many views, and advocate of none. Important to note, the Council has no affiliation with the U.S. government. FDPOC director, Wissam Tarif, met with Dr Steven A. Cook, a Council representative the first time in 2006. FDPOC participates in an on-going exchange of thinking in a cooperative dialogue with the Council.
AI is a worldwide, non-governmental organization working for the release of prisoners of conscience, the fair trial of all political prisoners, and an end to torture and execution. Its International Secretariat, headquartered in London, sends appeals to imprisoning governments urging prisoner release, and arranges fact-finding missions to countries where human rights violations are thought to be occurring. FDPOC activists work closely with Amnesty International activists on specific cases in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Human Rights Watch:
HRW conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. It addresses the human rights practices of governments of all political ideologies, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions.
An Open Roundtable discussion in 2005 entitled “Human Rights & Civil Society in Syria”, organized by the University’s Teachers’ College Peace Education Center (TCPEC), provided the occasion for a talk given by FDPOC Director, Wissam Tarif, on “The State of Human Rights, Democracy, and Civil Society in Syria." The event proved to be the start of an excellent relationship of dedicated and enthusiastic support for FDPOC’s program of work.