Reflections on the state of civil society in Bahrain – UNHRC 24th Session

by Joshua Chivanga, Intern, CIVICUS Geneva Office

Growing up in Zimbabwe I always had a dream. I envisaged sitting on the board of directors of a multilateral organisation, I dreamt of making it to the upper echelons of the United Nations; oh yes that was the nature of my dreams. I always dreamt BIG. I pictured my name enshrined in the hall of fame with clusters of people literally stampeding just to catch a glimpse of me.

Such was the power of my imagination at a tender age. Since then, days have slowly turned into weeks, weeks into months and the months into years and today I am a young man still chasing those dreams, albeit with some degree of success.

Today I am privileged to attend the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 24th Session, not as President of the Council but as a young determined activist under the CIVICUS UN Learning Exchange Programme. Continue reading

From Bahrain to Belarus: using the power of the sporting event

So the Bahrain Grand Prix came and went. Protests flared and were duly suppressed. Someone won, and then the circus left town and moved onto the next country to uncontroversially run its race – to austerity-ravaged Spain, as it happens.

For fans of the sport, the question of whether the Bahrain race should take place proved divisive. Some took the view that to race in a context where protestors were being slung into jail was repugnant. Seasoned fans affirmed they would break long runs and wash their own cars in preference. Others bracketed protestors as troublemakers, at times coming close to England cricketer Mike Gatting’s notorious self-defence while leading a renegade tour of apartheid South Africa that protests were just “a few people singing and dancing.”

Personally, I admit to some mixed feelings about the incursion of politics into the sporting occasion. As someone who, when I’m in the UK, spends my weekends supporting my club, I tend to regard time at the football as time off:  what JB Priestley called, admittedly in more sexist times, working man’s catharsis.

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