Natella Akaba

30 September 2005
In August 1992 Georgian troops entered Abkhazia - the Soviet Autonomous Republic, which was part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic during Communist rule. The bloody military conflict between the Georgians and Abkhaz finished at the end of 1993. The armed conflict destroyed thousands lives and futures, and the contemporary situation in Abkhazia can be described as “no war, no peace”. A large proportion of the pre-war population of Abkhazia (especially Georgians) have had to leave. “De-facto” Abkhazia separated from Georgia but not one state has recognized its independence. Georgian / Abkhaz negotiations have been going on for 12 years under the aegis of UN but the only result has been a cease-fire.

I am Head of the AWA – Association of Women of Abkhazia. AWA was established in 1999 to consolidate the women’s movement towards democracy and gender equality. AWA’s other goal is to maintain peace in Abkhazia and in the Caucasus as a whole.

I have lectured in the Abkhaz State University. A historian by training, my PhD thesis was on “Great Britain’s Colonial Policy in Qatar”. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union I found myself in the epicenter of political breakdown.  I was elected member of Abkhaz Parliament (1991-1996) and became Head of the Human Rights Committee. After that I was appointed Minister for Information and Media.

From 1997 to 1999 I worked as Director of the Centre for Support of Human Rights and Democracy. I was among those who established the first oppositional political organization in Abkhazia – “Aitaira” (Revival), which won a presidential election in 2004.

I have written a number of articles examining the roots and various aspects of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. I am involved in a number of joint Caucasian initiatives which are focused on the empowerment of women and the realization of their right to participate in decision-making at all levels. I believe that women will make the world more peaceful and prosperous.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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