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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07FRANKFURT782
2007-02-16 13:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Frankfurt
Cable title:  

LEADING GERMAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO SEEKING USG

Tags:   PHUM  KIRF  PREL  GM  IR  KN  CU  CH 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFT #0782/01 0471357
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161357Z FEB 07
FM AMCONSUL FRANKFURT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9678
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L FRANKFURT 000782 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2017
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PREL GM IR KN CU CH
SUBJECT: LEADING GERMAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO SEEKING USG
PARTNERSHIP


Classified By: Pol-Econ Chief Daniel Froats for Reasons 1.4(b)
and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L FRANKFURT 000782

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2017
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PREL GM IR KN CU CH
SUBJECT: LEADING GERMAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO SEEKING USG
PARTNERSHIP


Classified By: Pol-Econ Chief Daniel Froats for Reasons 1.4(b)
and (d)


1. (U) This is an action cable (action request in paragraph
9).


2. (C) SUMMARY: Conservative German human rights NGO
"International Society for Human Rights" (IGFM/ISHR) would
like to partner informally with the USG and U.S.
organizations on Iran, North Korea, and persecuted
Christians. The organization already works with the USG on
occasion concerning Cuban issues. IGFM/ISHR's long-standing
work on totalitarian/authoritarian regimes mark it as a
potentially good partner. END SUMMARY.

Background
--------------


3. (U) Founded in 1972 in Frankfurt, IGFM/ISHR represents one
of Germany's leading human-rights organizations and arguably
its leading "homegrown" human-rights NGO, with board members
such as Chinese dissident Harry Wu and Russian activist
Yelena Bonner (widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei
Sakharov). IGFM/ISHR is a Germany-based worldwide NGO --
claiming forty chapters and 300,000 members -- but is
considerably smaller (ten full-time headquarters employees)
than, for instance, Amnesty International. Like Amnesty,
IGFM/ISHR's work centers on letter-writing campaigns and
financial support to political prisoners and their families,
advocacy work, and public information campaigns. Its
national chapters have considerable independence.


4. (C) IGFM/ISHR is a membership-based organization like
Amnesty but confines its work to totalitarian/authoritarian
regimes (tending not to address broader social issues such as
the death penalty). IGFM/ISHR's issues reflect the values of
its largely conservative, church-going membership and the
organization's early period as part of the "Helsinki" process
exposing human rights violations in the former Warsaw Pact.
The group has pressured the German government on various
issues including Cuba and China, but has close working ties
with German diplomatic missions in those countries. The

group's conservative leanings make it sometimes controversial
in the human-rights community.


5. (SBU) One of the group's long-standing issues is human
rights abuses in Cuba (active there since 1977). Post made
contact with IGFM/ISHR on its 2006 annual conference in
Kronberg (outside Frankfurt), focusing on Cuban dissidents
(many of whom attended from the U.S. and elsewhere).
Department supported the conference through participation by
the Office of the Cuba Transition Coordinator. (NOTE: The
event was the highest-profile Cuban democracy/human rights
event in Europe last year). In November 2006, IGFM/ISHR and
others submitted a "1503" petition on Cuba to the U.N. Human
Rights Council.

Seeking USG Partnership
--------------


6. (C) At IGFM/ISHR's request, Pol-Econ chief met January 31
with Martin Lessenthin, managing director ("Speaker of the
Board) of the organization. Lessenthin raised several areas
for informal cooperation:

CHINA -- On March 30, IGFM/ISHR will host a high-profile
conference on human rights in China; Harry Wu & other
prominent Chinese dissidents and Falun Gong adherents are
scheduled to attend. (Post plans to observe part or all of
the conference, to take place in the Frankfurt area).

IRAN -- the organization would like to focus its next
UNHRC/1503 petition on human rights violations in Iran.
IGFM/ISHR hopes to submit the petition later this year, and
would welcome USG information and references to foundations
and other human-rights NGO's active in the area.

NORTH KOREA -- IGFM/ISHR would like to raise international
attention to human rights abuses in North Korea/DPRK, a
country viewed too often only through the lens of foreign
policy or humanitarian needs. Here as well, IGFM/ISHR would
benefit from ties to U.S. public and private actors.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM -- IGFM/ISHR is active on the issue of
religious freedom (particularly the persecution of minority
Christians) in China and the Arab world. Recognizing the
USG's focus on the issue, the group would welcome a dialogue
with U.S. experts.


7. (SBU) IGFM/ISHR representatives travel to the U.S. for
meetings and would welcome Amcit interns at the group's
headquarters in Frankfurt. Lessenthin, who travels to
Washington (and to Florida as part of the group's Cuba

activities) would welcome a "voluntary visitor" or other USG
program which could cover part of travel costs (the group can
combine Washington meetings with outreach to regional human
rights groups in places like New Jersey/New York and Florida).

COMMENT AND ACTION REQUEST
--------------


8. (C) Overall, IGFM/ISHR is sympathetic to USG policy based
on its Cold War experience and membership base. Judging from
its long-standing Cuba activities -- where the group is
providing "on the ground" assistance to human-rights
activists and is trying to educate the European public --
IGFM/ISHR can be a tenacious and effective agent in other
authoritarian/ totalitarian settings. The group takes no
money from the German government, but appears very open to
cooperation and information exchange.


9. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Post requests guidance and/or
appropriate POC's to assist IGFM representatives in work on
human rights issues affecting Iran, North Korea, and
religious freedom.


10. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
POWELL