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[‘International Day of Democracy 2022’ Commemorative Statement] Courageous Actions of Citizens Can Change the World
Date : 2022-09-15     Hit : 531

 2022 International Day of Democracy: Statement From the May 18 Memorial Foundation

 

Courageous Actions of Citizens Can Change the World

 

Today, September 15, is the International Day of Democracy, designated by the United Nations in 2007 to encourage us to think about, reflect on, and enhance the meaning of democracy.

 

In 2022, the world’s democracies are under serious threat.

The number of liberal democratic countries, which reached 42 in 2021, fell to 34 in 2021, the lowest level in 25 years. The results of a survey conducted by the V-Dem (Varieties of DemocracyInstitute in Sweden state that only 13% of the world’s people live in a democracy, a shocking minority.

Moreover, authoritarian regimes around the world are constantly threatening democracy. In recent years, state-led social control implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the regression of global democracy and advance of authoritarianism.

 

Meanwhile, the theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy, announced by the United Nations, is “protecting press freedom for democracy.” A free, independent, and pluralistic presscapable of providing the public with information about issues of public interestis a key element of democracy. When press freedom is threatened, the flow of information is suppressed or distorted and democracy stops breathing.

 

Attempts to muzzle journalists are becoming more blatant day by day. According to UNESCO, more than 1,200 journalists have been killed worldwide in the past decade.

However, suppression of press freedom will never succeed. Despite the malicious media control during the May 18 Democratic Uprising, citizens voluntarily opened up a way to disseminate information by publishing the Fighters’ Bulletin.

 

The Hinzpeter International Press Awardsfounded on this awareness of such global threats to journalistic freedom, announced this year’s winners on September 13, paying tribute to the activities of journalists who fight for democracy and human rights around the world.

In particular, the late Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers while covering a refugee camp in Palestine last May, and video journalist Majdi Bannoura, who recorded the scene, were selected as recipients of the May Gwangju Award, one of the Hinzpeter International Press Awards.

There are journalists who risk their lives resisting the tyranny that threatens the freedom of the press and to fulfill their mission. Because of their efforts, democracy is one step closer.

We are grateful for such reporters all over the world who are struggling to spread the truth at this moment.

 

In Myanmar, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Russia, press freedom is seriously threatened today. However, it should be noted that such a situation can occur anywhere in the world when the media fails to act as a check on or critique of politics.

We should not forget that, far from being stories of distant countries, these circumstances may be ours as well one day.

 

The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to reflect on the current state of democracy in the world. Democracy is a goal and a process, and only with the full participation and support of the international community, state, civil society, and individuals can the democratic ideal become a reality for all to enjoy.

 

The May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980 and the struggle to find the truth thereof (which, until recently, was ongoing) are undoubtedly proof for observers worldwide that the courageous actions of citizens who resist authoritarian rule can change the world.

In the uprising, those who united to protect their family, neighbors, and community look similar to those who, today, work together in solidarity against authoritarianism across the globe.

 

Our activities continue in solidarity with the people of Myanmar who are resolutely fighting military coup, with those who struggle against unjust powers and institutions around the world, and with those who dedicate themselves to the oppressed and marginalized.

 

September 15, 2022

May 18 Memorial Foundation

 

 

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