Foundation for Endangered Languages

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5. Allied Societies and Activities

National Language Centre of Wales: a Year’s Reprieve

On 13 August, the President was sent the following letter.

Some months have passed since my last correspondence with you... It gives me great pleasure to to tell you that the Centre is still open for business. In January this year, Meic Raymant, the former chief tutor at the Nant, was appointed Tutor/Manager of the new-look centre on the Lleyn peninsula. Meic has many years’ experience at the Centre, and I have no doubt that he is the right man for the task ahead.

A new appointment has been made, namely that of Gwyn Hefin Jones, a former head of personnel with Gwynedd County Council’s Education Department. Mr Jones, who is widely respected in his field throughout Gwynedd, is an adviser both to Meic and The Trustees / Board of Governors.

Sadly, six of the previous employees at Nant Gwrtheyn lost their jobs, but fortunately all but one has succeeded in obtaining alternative employment.

The Centre has been given one year to try and improve its situation by attracting more students through the doors. So far this year, things have been going very well, with encouraging attendance figures.

This is obviously a very important year for the National Language Centre of Wales. If you feel that you can help in any way, please contact Meic or Mr Jones at Nant Gwrtheyrn…

May I take this opportunity, on behalf of the remaining staff, as well as learners of Welsh everywhere, to thank you for your interest and your support during the crisis last year. In fact, the campaign had tremendous support amongst academic circles outside Wales… unfortunately support from the University of Wales, and institutions inside the Principality was not so forthcoming. Perhaps this alone says something about us as a nation…

As far as I am concerned the campaign was a success. A letter, together with the petition containing 624 signatures was sent to the Charities Commission for England and Wales earlier this year…

Before the campaign started, the Trustees intended to close the Centre for one year, during which time a massive renovation programme would have begun… The Centre was scheduled to re-open in 1999 as a Centre for Welsh History and Culture, with less emphasis upon teaching the Welsh language to adults. Thanks to your support and effort, the letter-writing campaign succeeded in keeping the debate very much in the public eye. As a consequence of the publicity, and the criticisms levelled at them, the Trustees decided to keep the Centre open. Furthermore, although there is a need to include some courses on Welsh history and culture, I have assurances that the Nant’s prime function remains as teaching Welsh as a second language to adults.

Thank you all once again.

If you are ever in the area, I can assure you of a CROESO MAWR (warm welcome) at Nant Gwrtheyrn.

Gratefully yours

Sean Driscoll.

Sean enclosed this year’s Course Programme, with offerings at all levels, and from 2 to 12 days long, extending right through until 10 December.

The National Language Centre of Wales is at Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llithfaen, near Pwllheli in Gwynedd LL53 6PA, North Wales.
tel +44-1758-750334
fax +44-1758-750335

The Lleyn peninsula is the main north-western promontory of Wales, the “pig’s ear” if Britain is seen as an old woman riding on a pig.

The Right to Communicate, an international hearing

From: ReindeR Rustema

About two weeks ago I subscribed to this list (ELL) for a special occasion. I am involved in preparing a hearing about the Right to Communicate that will be held in the Institute for Social Studies, The Hague, the Netherlands.

The Right to Communicate is a so called 3rd generation human right that should be added to the existing rights. More about this in a quote from a paper contributed to the Virtual Conference
http://commposite.uqam.ca/videaz
on the Right to Communicate by Jan Servaes below.

It will be an annual hearing that will deal each year with different themes from the People's Communication Charter. I have copied the whole charter below. More information about this charter can be found at
http://www.waag.org/pcc
where you can sign on-line also.

The related article in this respect is

Article 9. Diversity of Languages.
All people have the right to a diversity of languages. This includes the right to express themselves and have access to information in their own language, the right to use their own languages in educational institutions funded by the state, and the right to have adequate provisions created for the use of minority languages where needed.

During the hearing cases will be presented to, testimonies will be heard by and recomendations will be made to the judges. Judges will be at least Boutros Boutros Gali, Tove Skuttnab- Kangas (VP of Terralingua) and John Mayarara (ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ao.).

But... we need to prepare the cases. Perhaps you can help? The hearing is limited to three days so this implies a maximum of 3 to 5 cases. The cases of the Kurds, Sign language, English/Spanish education in California, Berber and Aboriginals have so far been chosen.

For a case the following needs to be prepared.

a. General background to the specific case (i.a. history).
b. The specific case.
c. Earlier proceedings (court cases, hearings, etc).
d. Recommendations from victims and experts to the panel of judges.

As the webmaster to the website of the charter and volunteer to preparing the hearing I would be most interested in hearing any advice from this forum. If you're interested in attending it or would otherwise like to be involved, let me know. Also if you know some funds or NGO's or sponsors willing to participate. The budget is not completely covered yet.

So far, to avoid information overload, more later hopefully,

Thanks in advance

ReindeR Rustema

Introduction

The concepts 'freedom of information', 'free flow of information' , 'freedom of opinion', 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of the press' have always been at the base of the Western way of thinking. They, among other things, were explicitly referred to in the American Constitution of 1776 and during the French Revolution. Article 12 of the American Bill of Rights states that 'the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic government.' In the French Les Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen of 1789 it is stated that "the free expression of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious human rights; every citizen should be able to speak, write, and print freely; this freedom can only be restricted in those cases determined by law" (my translation, JS). Though the freedom of word and expression have always been subject to fundamental restrictions, they nevertheless are part of the European and American ways of thinking, which led to freedom of printing and a free press. These rights, the so-called civil or freedom rights, can be said to be the first generation of human rights.

A second generation of human rights was inspired by socialist revolutions at the turn of the century, and emphasize the economic and socio-cultural rights of people. The right to work, education, shelter and the right to participate in cultural life, belong to this second generation of human rights.

The first and second generations of human rights were reformulated as binding international law in two conventions that were adopted in 1966 and came into effect in 1976: the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The third generation of human rights - the so-called solidarity or collective rights - emerged through anti-colonialist revolutions emphasizing national self-determination and non-discrimination. Solidarity rights pertain primarily to certain collective concerns, such as peace, development, ecological balance, culture and communication (for more details, see Berting, 1990; Galtung, 1994; Servaes, 1996a; or Linden, 1997).

We, the Signatories of this Charter, recognize that:

Communication is basic to the life of all individuals and theircommunities. All people are entitled to participate in communication, and in making decisions about communication within and between societies. The majority of the world's peoples lack minimal technological resources for survival and communication. Over half of them have not yet made a single telephone call. Commercialization of media and concentration of media ownership erode the public sphere and fail to provide for cultural and information needs, including the plurality of opinions and the diversity of cultural expressions and languages necessary for democracy. Massive and pervasive media violence polarizes societies, exacerbates conflict, and cultivates fear and mistrust, making people vulnerable and dependent. Stereotypical portrayals misrepresent all of us and stigmatize those who are the most vulnerable. Therefore, we ratify this Charter defining communication rights and responsibilities to be observed in democratic countries and in international law.

 

 

Article 1. Respect.

All people are entitled to be treated with respect, according to the basic human rights standards of dignity, integrity, identity, and non- discrimination.

Article 2. Freedom.

All people have the right of access to communication channels independent of governmental or commercial control.

Article 3. Access.

In order to exercise their rights, people should have fair and equitable access to local and global resources and facilities for conventional and advanced channels of communication; to receive opinions, information and ideas in a language they normally use and understand; to receive a range of cultural products designed for a wide variety of tastes and interests; and to have easy access to facts about ownership of media and sources of information. Restrictions on access to information should be permissible only for good and compelling reason, as when prescribed by international human rights standards or necessary for the protection of a democratic society or the basic rights of others.

Article 4. Independence.

The realization of people's right to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the development of self-reliant communication structures requires international assistance to the development of independent media; training programmes for professional mediaworkers; the establishment of independent, representative associations, syndicates or trade unions of journalists and associations of editors and publishers; and the adoption of international standards.

Article 5. Literacy.

All people have the right to acquire information and skills necessary to participate fully in public deliberation and communication. This requires facility in reading, writing, and storytelling; critical media awareness; computer literacy; and education about the role of communication in society .

Article 6. Protection of journalists.

Journalists must be accorded full protection of the law, including international humanitarian law , especially in areas of armed conflict. They must have safe, unrestricted access to sources of information, and must be able to seek remedy, when required, through an international body.

Article 7. Right of reply and redress.

All people have the right of reply and to demand penalties for damage from media misinformation. Individuals concerned should have an opportunity to correct, without undue delay, statements relating to them which they have a justified interest in having corrected. Such corrections should be given the same prominence as the original expression. States should impose penalties for proven damage, or require corrections, where a court of law has determined that an information provider has wilfully disseminated inaccurate or misleading and damaging information, or has facilitated the dissemination of such information.

Article 8. Cultural identity.

All people have the right to protect their cultural identity. This includes the respect for people's pursuit of their cultural development and the right to free expression in languages they understand. People' s right to the protection of their cultural space and heritage should not violate other human rights or provisions of this Charter.

Article 9. Diversity of Languages.

All people have the right to a diversity of languages. This includes the right to express themselves and have access to information in their own language, the right to use their own languages in educational institutions funded by the state, and the right to have adequate provisions created for the use of minority languages where needed.

Article 10. Participation in policy making.

All people have the right to participate in public decision-making about the provision of information; the development and utilization of knowledge; the preservation, protection and development of culture; the choice and application of communication technologies; and the structure and policies of media industries.

Article 11. Children's Rights.

Children have the right to mass media products that are designed to meet their needs and interests and foster their healthy physical, mental and emotional development.. They should be protected from harmful media products and from commercial and other exploitation at home, in school and at places of play, work, or business. Nations should take steps to produce and distribute widely high quality cultural and entertainment materials created for children in their own languages.

Article 12. Cyberspace.

All people have a right to universal access to and equitable use of cyberspace. Their rights to free and open communities in cyberspace, their freedom of electronic expression, and their freedom from electronic surveiilance and intrusion, should be protected.

Article 13. Privacy.

All people have the right to be protected from the publication of allegations irrelevant to the public interest, or of private photographs or other private communication without authorization, or of personal information given or received in confidence. Databases derived from personal or workplace communications or transactions should not be used for unauthorized commercial or general surveillance purposes. However, nations should take care that the protection of privacy does not unduly interfere with the freedom of expression or the administration of justice.

Article 14. Harm.

People have the right to demand that media actively counter incitement to hate, prejudice, violence, and war. Violence should not be presented as normal, "manly", or entertaining, and true consequences of and alternatives to violence should be shown. Other violations of human dignity and integrity to be avoided include stereotypic images that distort the realities and complexities of people's lives. Media should not ridicule, stigmatize, or demonize people on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and physical or mental condition.

Article 15. Justice.

People have the right to demand that media respect standards of due process in the coverage of trials. This implies that the media should not presume guilt before a verdict of guilt, invade the privacy of defendants, and should not televise criminal trials in real time, while the trial is in progress.

Article 16. Consumption.

People have the right to useful and factual consumer information and to be protected against misleading and distorted information. Media should avoid and, if necessary, expose promotion disguised as news and entertainment (infomercials, product placement, children's programmes that use franchised characters and toys, etc), and the creation of wasteful, unnecessary, harmful or ecologically damaging needs, wants, products and activities. Advertising directed at children should receive special scrutiny.

Article 17. Accountability.

People have the right to hold media accountable to the general public and their adherence to the standards established in this Charter. For that purpose, media should establish mechanisms, including self- regulatory bodies, that monitor and account for measures taken to achieve compliance.

Article 18. Implementation.

In consultation with the Signatories, national and international mechanisms will be organized to publicize this Charter; to implement it in as many countries as possible and in international law; monitor and assess the performance of countries and media in light of these Standards; receive complaints about violations; advise on adequate remedial measures; and to establish procedures for periodic review, development and modification of this Charter.

PCC, p/a Society for Old and New Media, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam,
phone: +31 20 5579898, fax: +31 20 5579880 pccmaster(at)waag.org
http://www.waag.org/pcc

Fondation pour les Anciens et les Nouveaux Médias
Society for Old and New Media
Maatschappij voor Oude en Nieuwe Media
tel: +31-20-5579898 / fax: +31-20-5579880 / http://www.waag.org

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