“It isn’t difficult to win elections when one’s opponents are not on the ballot.”
Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russia
All around the world, we are witnessing a rise in authoritarianism and a backlash against civil and human rights. In the quest for freedom, democratic reform and free and fair elections, pro-democracy activists and opposition politicians often take extremely high individual risks, especially in countries where fundamental human rights are routinely violated.
Without the courage and commitment of brave individuals, these violations would often go unheard or the many recent pro-democracy movements would not raise awareness and challenge fraudulent election results. Oftentimes, the lines between being a human rights defender, a pro-democracy activist or an opposition politician blur, as the individual cases in this publication illustrate.
These people play an indispensable role in mobilizing others and revealing the fragility of autocratic regimes and thereby often become the target of long-time authoritarian rulers. Pro-democracy activists and their supporters are often persecuted and their human rights violated in order to spread fear and demobilize protests. The targeted individuals become defenders of their own human rights as well as the civil rights of their fellow citizens.