Join the European chain of Democracy while it is pressured and attacked

, by Christelle Savall

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Join the European chain of Democracy while it is pressured and attacked
Image courtesy of JEF-Europe.

TNF supports JEF-Europe’s campaign #DemocracyUnderPressure that this year will take place from the 18th to the 25th of March.

JEF has been standing up and speaking up for those who are silenced since 2006 while raising awareness of the current state of democracy. Our campaign started as the “Free Belarus” action to raise awareness about the Lukashenka regime. In recent years however, dictatorships have strengthened their grip over citizens, and numerous stains have appeared even on the fabrics of ‘stable’ democracies. As we believe an attack on the Rule of Law in one country is an attack on our own, the action was rebranded in 2014 as Democracy under Pressure. Now not only is democracy under pressure, it is under attack. Together with our partners, JEFers are building a European chain of democracy across Europe during our action week, taking place from 18th to the 25th March.

Years and years of threats to democracy over the continent

28 years of dictatorship in Belarus. 9 years of war in Ukraine.1 year of full scale invasion by Russia of Ukraine. We can count the years but not the lives shattered, the ones lost to protect our values, destroyed by the war, taken by the enemies of media freedom, of peace, of fundamental rights and of democracy in Ukraine, in Belarus and all over Europe.

Europe is often considered the birthplace of democracy. However, it is not about the past, it is about the future we write day after day and the choices we make. To embrace democracy is embracing the freedom to choose. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and the Western Balkans, chose Europe so it is our turn to honour this choice by credibly and actively making enlargement a political priority. By focusing on enlargement, as peace and democracy feed each other, we choose to secure democracy and peace, not just in the EU but on the continent.

In parallel, deep reform is needed on the EU side to make sure the respect for European values is truly woven into the fabric of our union. Qatargate is a reminder that democracy is always an ongoing process, and that no system is immune to corruption. Vigilance and transparency are required from all and most of all those who represent us.

Beyond the positive yet limited rule of law conditionality mechanism, we need to choose to break the chain of intergovernmentalism and introduce the democratic federation the citizens have called for during the Conference on the Future of Europe. One that can effectively guarantee peace, democracy, and fundamental rights of all its people without further compromises.

Let us oppose chains of tyranny, oppression and division with a chain of hope, a chain of solidarity, a chain of democracy. Like citizens in 1989 did with the Baltic chain, the civil society and each and everyone of us must form a European chain of democracy across the continent. It is our responsibility to keep democracy alive, to keep the hope up for those at the frontlines. With this positive European chain of democracy we aim to help break the chains that shackle democracy and to stand in solidarity with those under attack, those pressured, those silenced.

Join our European chain of democracy in your city and online from 18th to 25th of March

17 years of our annual campaign for democracy. In 2014, we renamed our Free Belarus action Democracy under Pressure amid the Maïdan protests in Ukraine and creeping threats to democracy all over the continent. In 2023, like in 2022, the subtitle of our campaign is Democracy under Attack. When Putin’s invasion and the tyranny are at full scale so must be our commitment to democracy and to Ukraine.

Go to the streets! Gag statues, clap for democracy, organise awareness-raising activities debates, partner up with other associations and activists. Stand for democracy and stand with Ukraine like our sections have done since the war erupted, like we have been standing with Free Belarus since the start.

Write to political prisoners! As in the past years, we invite you to write letters to Belarusian political prisoners, and this year together with our partner VESNA also to Russian political prisoners.

Speak out for democracy online! Using the #DemocracyUnderPressure, share information about democracy, videos, amplify voices from Ukraine, from JEF and from democracy activists. Take part in our twitter chat on 23rd March at 12:30pm CET. You will find all the information about the campaign in our infokit.

Take it to conventional media! Share the press release, feel free to translate it, share the statement with national and local media. Check out The New Federalist’s special feature on democracy, with a range of articles, podcasts and videos. Democracy under Pressure goes beyond an action week and a campaign: it is a commitment. It is a commitment we take as JEF Europe that year after year, for as long as needed, we will take the streets and speak up for those who are silenced. We will lock arms and stand up for rule of law and fundamental rights, we will stand up for peace, we will stand up for democracy!

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