30 NGOs join forces to defend democracy and human rights in Bulgaria
Representatives of 30 NGOs across the country announced the launch of the civic platform Ravni BG, formed to defend the principles of democracy and human rights in Bulgaria, with its first public discussion “Democracy and Human Rights Today”. “The topic of democracy has been in the limelight during the last week. It provoked citizens to rethink the goals they had and the goals to strive for. The society which we aim at needs active civic organizations like you,” so Tomislav Donchev, Vice Prime Minister of Bulgaria, in a special address to the partakers.
Marie Arena, Member of the European Parliament, and chair of Subcommittee on Human Rights at the European Parliament, and Jennifer Croft, Deputy Head of the Human Rights Department at ODIHR, also sent videos to address the initiative. Roy Virah-Sawmy, representative of the Network of European Foundations and Civitates – an initiative for solidarity and democracy in Europe, as well as representatives of the coalition Ravni BG – Nadejda Dermendzieva, Yuliana Metodieva, chair of the Coalition for Human Rights Marginalia, Margarita Spasova, chair of Forum for Glocal Change and Stella Kovacheva, “Education and Future” took part in the discussion.
The coalition Ravni BG aims to provide a platform for dialogue and joint action against the shrinking space of civil activity in Bulgaria and the renaissance of anti-liberalism masked by pseudo-traditional values.
“In the last two years we have witnessed unprecedented attack against prodemocratic civic organizations and against a number of institutions working on human rights policies, all coming from unltra-nationalist and fundamental religious circles. Long-term efforts to defend women’s rights and children’s rights were ripped apart, while constructive dialogue between the progressive NGO sector and public institutions was silenced by a number of fake news and negative PR. Despite it all, together we can withhold the attacks and work for a country where democracy and human rights are guaranteed. Ravni BG is not just a coalition, it is an attempt to restart the conversation and to reach out for collaboration”- said Nadejda Dermendjieva.
I welcome the fact that Ravni BG brings together various partners and actively builds bridges between organizations based in the capital and the remote areas. I am convinced that it will oppose all obstacles and will win back the trust of the public in NGOs. I am happy that Civitates supports this initiative,” concluded Mr Sawmy.
The event’s audience included over 80 representatives from embassies of EU countries, national and European NGOs – members of civil partnerships and coallitions, who work in the field of charity, human rights, citizen participation, analysts and media.