WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is pleased to announce its Spring 2012 cohort of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. In residence are leading practitioners, journalists, and scholars from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Cuba, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Tibet/India, and the United States.
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program seeks to increase the knowledge, enrich the skills, broaden the perspectives, and boost the morale of some of the world's most creative and courageous democratic activists and scholars. The program is housed at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, NED's research and publications arm, in Washington, D.C. Named in honor of NED's two principal founders, former president Ronald Reagan and the late congressman Dante Fascell (D-FL), and now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the program has enabled 180 activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from 79 countries to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change.
Mr. Malik Siraj Akbar (Pakistan) is an award-winning Pakistani journalist who has risked his life covering human rights violations, particularly in his native Balochistan. He is conducting a study of the threats facing defenders of democracy in Pakistan, focusing on the problem of enforced disappearances, attacks on journalists, and targeted killings of political leaders and human rights activists.
Dr. Mokhtar Benabdallaoui (Morocco) is professor of Islamic studies and director of the Doctoral Center for Studies in Politics and Religion at Hasan II University, in Casablanca. He is writing a book about the evolution, activities, and impact of Islamist parties in the Arab world.
Mr. Darko Brkan (Bosnia-Herzegovina) is founding president of Zasto ne (Why Not), a Sarajevo-based nongovernmental organization that promotes civic activism, government accountability, and the use of digital media in deepening democracy in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is exploring how information technologies, online tools, and new media can be used by both civil society and the government to promote democracy.
Ms. Judith February (South Africa) is head of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa's Political Information and Monitoring Service (PIMS), a program launched in 1995 to monitor the work and assess the quality of South Africa's democratic institutions. She plans to write a paper outlining the importance of the right to freedom of information regarding political party funding in South Africa.
Mr. Normando Hernandez (Cuba) is an independent journalist who has dedicated his career to providing alternative sources of news and information in Cuba. He is examining the Cuban communications monopoly and considering strategies by which independent journalists may combat totalitarianism.
Ms. Abril Perez (Nicaragua) is an election observation expert with the Grupo Civico Etica y Transparencia, Nicaragua's preeminent election-monitoring NGO. She is working on a training manual aimed at strengthening the efforts of domestic and international election observers working in restrictive political environments.
Dr. Tsveta Petrova (United States) most recently has held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. She intends to compare the democracy assistance efforts of postcommunist countries to those of new democracies from other regions of the world and to reflect on regional differences in democracy promotion.
Dr. B. Tsering (Tibet/India) is a Tibetan women's rights activist currently serving as a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India. She is devoting her fellowship to developing proposals for more effectively implementing the Central Tibetan Administration's Women's Empowerment Policy.
Mr. Aung Moe Zaw (Burma) is chairperson of the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), a Burmese political party affiliated with the broader democracy movement for which he has worked as a presidium member for more than eight years. He is researching the impact of foreign democracy aid in Burma, with the goal of making recommendations concerning international support for democracy in Burma.
A complete list of the 2011–2012 Fellows and their bios can be found online at http://www.ned.org/fellowships/current-past-fellows.
SOURCE National Endowment for Democracy