HDIM Starts with Civil Society Protest on Russian Elections
Members of the Civic Solidarity Platform stood up in silent protest wearing shirts that said, “Stop repressions in Russia” and “Freedom for political prisoners in Russia,” on the opening day of the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of the OSCE. The shirts were referring to the actions of authorities in the country following the local and regional elections of 8 September 2019, including multiple manipulations and suppression of peaceful and civic protests. The Platform, whose secretariat is currently being run by the NHC, brings together civil society organisations committed to improving the human rights across the OSCE region.
Similarly the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (of which the NHC is also a member), condemned the “unprecedented level of pressure on independent candidates and peaceful protesters.” The authorities have even detained and convicted people who did not protest to several years of imprisonment. The Forum also reported that law enforcement authorities searched the offices of supporters of independent candidates all over Russia, as well as of the homes of independent election observers of the GOLOS Movement after the elections.
At the event keynote speaker Lech Walesa, also wore t-shirt in protest which stated “Konstytucja,” the Polish word for constitution in which TY means ‘you’ and JA means ‘me’, symbolism used by those in Poland who fight for rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Walesa is the former leader of the Solidarnosc trade union movement, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and president of Poland from 1990 to 1995.
The HDIM will continue for the next two weeks. Topics such as election observation outcomes, the conduct of authorities vis-a-vis demonstrations, and standards for rule of law will all be discussed in more detail. These have been traditional areas of expert monitoring and advice by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the democracy and human rights office of the OSCE. Throughout the meeting the Civic Solidarity Platform will be campaigning for better and more consistent follow-up by the states participating in the OSCE of the conclusions of this work.