CENN — October 11, 2004 Daily Digest

CENN — OCTOBER 11, 2004 DAILY DIGEST
Table of Contents:
1. GMO Threat to Poland — ICPPC Calls for Help
2. Villa Man Tried For Assaulting Journalist
3. Inter-regional volunteer action “Days of Good Will, Good Deeds and
Good Results” will be Held in Capital and Regions of Armenia
4. International Training Program “Influence of Conflicts on
Environment” Starts in Armenia
5. MDGs Survey We the Peoples Report and Survey

1. GMO THREAT TO POLAND — ICPPC CALLS FOR HELP

On September 8, 2004 the European Commission decided to allow seventeen
varieties of a genetically modified (GM) maize onto the European common
catalogue of seeds. This is an unprecedented action as, up until now, no
GM seeds have been allowed on the common catalogue. It opens the door
for GM crops to be grown on a large scale throughout Europe. ICPPC has
sent a protest letter to the Polish Government condemning this action
and proposing instead to create a GMO free Poland.

The situation is very urgent, as there are real fears that Monsanto and
other multinational GM seed corporations will target the Polish
countryside. The Polish government is not willing to act independently
to block the sale and planting of these seeds and Polish consumers and
farmers remain largely unaware of the threat posed by GM foods and food
production. Much of the media appears to be constrained from actively
reporting or researching issues surrounding GM products and many Polish
farmers are, as yet, unfamiliar with the arguments commonly aired in
other countries.

ICPPC therefore decided, in July, to launch a national campaign to
highlight the dangers of GMO’s in the Polish countryside and to press
for as many areas of Poland as possible to be declared GMO Free Zones
(). So far we have 60 farms around Poland and one
Province, Podkarpackie, with a population of just over 2 million (Polish
total 39 million) declaring themselves to be GMO free zones. There is
growing interest in many parts of the country but far more needs to be
done. Much of the Polish countryside is exceptionally rich in
biodiversity – a virtual seed bank in its own right – and it is crucial
that this rich source should not be contaminated. It is equally crucial
that farmers and consumers should be aware of the threat to both the
environment and human health that GMO’s carry.

Because the first GMO seeds can be planted on Polish fields already this
spring, ICPPC is urgently calling for help to prevent this happening –
in our common interest.

You can lend vital support to this campaign by sending:

1. Financial support: which will be used by us to continue our anti-GMO
campaign. To be sent direct to ICPPC’s account 37 1160 2202 0000 0000
2382 9934, SWIFT code: BIGBPLPWXXX, account owner: Fundacja ICPPC,
34-146 Stryszow. Or you can send us money by , but
first send us an e-mail with the amount you wish to support our campaign
to [email protected]
2. A letter of congratulation and support to the first GMO Province on
the name of the local authorities of Podkarpackie Province, Senator
Kazimierz Jaworski and ICPPC. Please send letter by: fax ++48 33 8797114
or e-mail: [email protected]
3. A letter expressing readiness to cooperate with Podkarpackie Province
. Podkarpackie is located in Southeast Poland and is a very beautiful
and traditional agricultural area. Please send letter by: fax ++48 33
8797114 or e-mail: [email protected]

Thank you for any help you can provide,

With kind regards,
Jadwiga Lopata and Julian Rose,

ICPPC Directors

=================
ICPPC – International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside,
Mi?dzynarodowa Koalicja dla Ochrony Polskiej Wsi
34-146 Strysz?w 156, Poland tel./fax +48 33 8797114 [email protected],
,

2. VILLA MAN TRIED FOR ASSAULTING JOURNALIST

Source: RFE/RL Armenia Report, October 7, 2004

A man reportedly linked to a wealthy pro-government parliamentarian went
on trial Thursday, accused of assaulting a photojournalist who took
pictures of luxury villas belonging to high-level Armenian officials and
government-connected businessmen.

The incident took place in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor in central
Armenia on August 24, 2004. The photographer, Mkhitar Khachatrian,
visited it with a correspondent for the `Aravot’ daily, Anna Israelian,
to assess damage caused to local forests by expensive housing
construction. The reporters say Khachatrian was forced to surrender the
photo storage card of his digital camera after being beaten by one of
several well-built men that guarded the villas.

One of them, Gagik Stepanian, was arrested on August 26, 2004 and has
since been kept in detention on charges of `hooliganism’ and
`obstruction of journalists’ work.’ He is the sole defendant at the
trial that began in the court of first instance of Hrazdan, the
administrative center of the central Kotayk region. The 43-year-old
father of two faces up to two years in prison if found guilty. He has
already had two criminal convictions in the past.

Stepanian, 43, only partly pleaded guilty to the charges at the start of
the court hearings, denying that he hit and swore at Khachatrian. He
claimed that he simply `jostled’ the photographer and took away the
digital chip after being photographed with his girlfriend in the woods.
He also said that he did not know that they were journalists.

The claims were denied by Israelian and an `Aravot’ driver who drove the
reporters to Tsaghkadzor from Yerevan. She insisted that Khachatrian
only took images of the expensive houses.

The photographer, who works for the private Photolur agency, is not
attending the trial. He is expected to ask prosecutors to read out his
pre-trial testimony in the court and avoid cross-examination. He has
already been paid $250 compensation by the suspect.

The reporters believe the attack was provoked by a man who guarded the
villa of Armen Yeritsian, the deputy chief of the Armenian police, in
Tsaghkadzor’s new exclusive neighborhood. They say he told Khachatrian
to stop photographing it before ordering Stepanian and several other men
to attack him.

Stepanian is widely believed to work as a bodyguard for Levon Sargsian,
a wealthy parliamentarian notorious for punching an opposition colleague
on the parliament floor in 2002. Sargsian, who is better known to the
public as `Alraghatsi Lyov,’ has denied any connection with the suspect,
however. He was not questioned during the pre-trial investigation and
will not appear before the Hrazdan court.

The Tsaghkadzor incident has been strongly condemned by Armenian media
associations. They said it was made possible by the authorities’ failure
to prosecute the perpetrators of previous attacks on the local
journalists. Western media watchdogs have also expressed concern at the
violence.

3. INTER-REGIONAL VOLUNTEER ACTION “DAYS OF GOOD WILL, GOOD DEEDS AND
GOOD RESULTS” WILL BE HELD IN CAPITAL AND REGIONS OF ARMENIA

Source: Arminfo, October 6, 2004

>>From October 28, to October 29 the Inter-Regional Volunteer Action “Days
of Good Will, Good Deeds and Good Results” will be held in Aragatsotn,
Armavir, Gegharkunik, Kotayk, Lori, Shirak and Syunik as well as in
Yerevan.

The press-service of Center for Community Dialogues and Initiatives told
ARMINFO that the goal of the action, initiated by (CCDI), IFES, NGOs,
local and regional authorities, is to encourage the volunteer movement
and NGOs’ activities as effective means for bringing communities
together to solve local problems. Participating in the “Days of Good
Will, Good Deeds and Good Results”, Armenians will have an excellent
opportunity to be active citizens and to make their contribution to the
community development process, united by the principle of volunteerism.

This year is the fourth annual “Days of Good Will, Good Deeds and Good
Results” action in Armenia. The previous three actions were held in
autumn of 2001, 2002 and 2003. All of these actions, supported by
different groups of the society, were highly successful: In total, 2,899
events were held, with 278,924 participants. The number of events and
participants increased by over 50% from 2001 to 2003.

The following events are planned for this year’s “Days of Good Will,
Good Deeds and Good Results” action: Visits to schools, museums,
scientific institutions, libraries and cinemas; Aid distribution and
book gathering for schools, museums, and libraries; Visits to the
disabled, refugees, orphanages, homes for the elderly, and hospitals;
Providing free professional consultation and services, such as Internet
access, haircuts, medical exams, and shoe repair; Gathering and
distribution of cloths, shoes, food, books and toys; Sports events;
Meetings with artists, writers and other well-known local persons;
“Round-table” discussions on local problems and how to solve them;
Various cultural events, such as free concerts, exhibitions, puppet
shows, chalk drawings on the street, storytelling to children, and
contests; Visits to state officials; Clean-up efforts at schools,
courtyards, monuments, riverbanks, and the lake shore; Community
improvement initiatives

Events have been conducted by local NGOs, city and regional authorities,
small and medium businesses, schools and universities, libraries,
museums, condominiums, sports clubs, and international organizations, as
well as by individuals and groups of individuals. Organization
committees, composed of representatives of NGOs, local authorities, mass
media, and interested individuals, are created to lead the works. Each
region has from one to five committees.

All participation or assistance is welcome. It is possible, for example,
to organize events or take part personally in a good deed or volunteer
effort. There are sponsorship opportunities as well. During the 2003
“Days of Good Will, Good Deeds and Good Results” action, the organizing
committees managed to involve 315 sponsors. Events conducted within the
framework of the action do not necessarily require a large investment.
Many types of sponsorship are possible: in the past, the action has
received not only financial support but also the donation of resources.
In 2002, for instance, a private company in Abovyan donated a special
vehicle for cleaning monuments. In Sevan, one stationery shop presented
stationery supplies for first grade children, and polyclinics in Lori
offered free dental treatment for kids from local homes for children.
Last year a municipality provided free transportation for those who
wanted to participate in the volunteer actions in the regional center.
Some factories provided candies and juiced to kindergartens. The action
encourages all forms of involvement and assistance.

4. INTERNATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM “INFLUENCE OF CONFLICTS ON
ENVIRONMENT” STARTS IN ARMENIA
Source: Arminfo, October 7, 2004

An international training program “Influence of the conflicts on the
environment” started in Armenia Wednesday.

Director of the Federation of youth clubs of Armenia (FYCA) Atom
Mkhitarian, the arrangement was organized by the FYCA jointly with the
European youth foundation of the European Union. Atom Mkhitarian
informed that 20 specialists engaged in the problems of peaceful
settlement of conflicts and environment have arrived in Armenia to take
part in the program, including representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, Russia, Moldova, Malta, Denmark, Germany, France, Czechia and
Spain. “In the course of the work of the training program we want to
unite two global tasks – elaboration of formulas of consequences of the
conflicts on the environment, and determination of the spectrum of
actions of the youth to prevent or minimize these phenomena”, Atom
Mkhitarian said.

Atom Mkhitarian mentioned that the participation of Azerbaijani
representatives in the seminar is important with the demonstration to
European structures the potentiality of Armenia in the country’s
becoming a strategic center of youth policy in the region, which, in its
turn, supposes holding of numerous youth programs, conferences, forums,
etc.

In their turn, representatives of NGOs of Azerbaijan – Director of the
Center of public Diplomacy Hamlet Izmailov and representative of the
analytic center “Peace, Democracy, Culture” Roman Temnikov mentioned
that the Karabakh conflict has caused a big damage to the environment.
In particular, an enormous damage has been caused to the agricultural
lands in the conflict zone and around it because of their mining. Till
now peasants cannot cultivate land, the mines blow up and people die.
“It is our second visit to Armenia”, the guests from Azerbaijan say.
Speaking about the negative reaction of the authorities of Azerbaijan to
the visits of Armenian citizens, Roman Temnikov and Hamlet Izmailov
informed that public figures, representatives of the youth and
intellectuals may visit Azerbaijan freely, but the issue of arrival of
people in uniforms is determined at high state level.

5. MDGS SURVEY WE THE PEOPLES REPORT AND SURVEY

Dear Colleagues,

We the peoples… 2004 was successfully launched on September 8 at the NGO
conference of the UN Department of Public Information, with 2600 people
from 90 countries in attendance. We offer heartfelt thanks to each of
you who participated in our 2004 survey. Your views and insightful
comments on civil society’s engagement with the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) helped to build this report.

We are equally grateful to all the civil society networks that helped us
distribute the information about our survey. We could not have done it
without you.

We are also writing to inform civil society organizations around the
world of a major new survey, in which you can participate in the coming
weeks. This survey will be the springboard to a significant report to be
launched in March 2005. We the peoples…2005 will take a deeper look at
the state of progress in each of the MDGs, including the key Goal 8 and
the role of affluent nations. We hope very much that you will take part
in this survey, and add your organization’s voice to the growing body of
civil society opinion on the MDGs. We would be grateful if you could
also pass on this information to all your network members, partner
organizations and all groups interested in sharing their views. We will
solicit not only your analysis and policy insights, but also your
recommendations (see note below) for the future.

In a few weeks, we will send you a follow up e-mail with full details of
the survey, and information on how you can participate. We look forward
to your response and your recommendations for the reform of policies and
structures, and for new initiatives on the road to the achievement of
the MDGs and beyond.

In the meantime, we invite you to read we the peoples…2004. It is
available in English on the web site of The North-South Institute at
and the World Federation of
United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at Please send us
your suggestions and comments regarding the report at [email protected]
Versions in Arabic, French and Spanish will be posted later this month.

WFUNA and The North-South Institute have also set up an online forum for
discussion on the MDGs, where all civil society organizations can put
forward their thoughts and suggestions. To get involved, simply go to
, and click on
“polls”. We hope you will participate in this discussion.

Thank you again for your time and your input. Check out the report on
the web-sites, and watch out for another e-mail soon about the next
survey. We look forward to continued collaboration.

Sincerely,

John W. Foster
Principal Researcher
The North-South Institute
and
Pera Wells
Deputy Secretary-General
WFUNA

http://www.nsi-ins.ca/ensi/whats_new.html
http://www.wfuna.org/what/mdgcampaign/wtp_forum.cfm
www.gmo.icppc.pl
www.moneybookers.com
www.icppc.pl
www.eko-cel.pl
www.wfuna.org.