European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) has to state with concern that a number of states that are home to EPDE member organizations are not only marked by a regression in the field of free and democratic elections, but also grossly violate human rights, with ongoing harassment of civil society activists for their civic and human rights activities.
According to reports of the national and international observation missions, the Azerbaijani presidential election of October 9, 2013 was marked by gross violations of electoral rights of citizens and massive manipulations of the will of the citizens of Azerbaijan.
The officially announced election results in no way reflect the actual voting results. Thus, elections in Azerbaijan do not meet international standards.
Of particular concern are the repressions against independent observation organizations in Azerbaijan that followed the presidential election of October 9, 2013.
The Platform expresses protest against frivolous and unlawful criminal prosecution of a member of the Coordinative Board of the Platform, the head of the Azerbaijan-based Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS), Anar Mammadli, and other members of the organization, who have been under investigation since October 31, 2013 for receiving financial support for their activities from international donor organizations. The persecution also concerned EMDS partner organization, International Cooperation of Volunteers Public Union (ICV).
Apartments of the organization’s members were searched and the activists themselves were interrogated by order of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan. The organization's leader, Anar Mammadli, and four other civil activists have been prohibited from leaving the territory of Azerbaijan.
We regard such actions of the Azerbaijani authorities as an act of revenge against the prominent organization of Azerbaijan for its independent, honest and principled position in assessing the results of the presidential election in Azerbaijan.
The Platform also protests against the illegal conviction of Ales Bialiatski, Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", who has been imprisoned since August 2011 for human rights activities of the organization he heads supported by funds received from international donor organizations. Ales Bialiatski was declared a prisoner of conscience and his unconditional release has been requested by all the democratic organizations and the international human rights community.
Of equal concern is the prosecution of the GOLOS Association (Russia) subjected to a mechanism under so-called "foreign agents" law, which resulted in cessation of the organization’s activity and financial sanctions against the organization and its head, Liliya Shibanova,
The Platform states that the legislation on "foreign agents" used against the non-governmental organizations of Russia does not meet international standards, and aims to harass civil society institutions. We directly link the harassment of the GOLOS Association to the organization’s work within independent election observation in Russia, especially for the dissemination of evidence of massive fraud during the elections in Russia in 2011 and 2012.
Moreover, similar legal acts can be adopted in a number of other countries, which base its legislation on the experience of juridical grounding of repressions in Russia.
The Platform condemns the actions of the law-enforcement agencies of Ukraine against participants of the peaceful protest actions in the Ukraine, informational web resources and oppositional political parties. Any actions on the part of the authorities seeking to limit the right to peaceful assemblies, freedom of expression and spread of information are inadmissible.
We call on the authorities of the Ukraine to ensure the observance of the right of all citizens to peaceful assemblies and freedom of opinion, and to urgently release all those detained during peaceful protest actions.
European Platform for Democratic Elections demands to immediately put an end to the persecution of civil society activists in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia, to promptly release all political prisoners and allow their full rehabilitation.
The Platform also calls for the abolition of legislation aimed at discrimination of public associations and creating obstacles to the development of civil society.
The Platform calls for democratic governments in their contacts with the governments of countries where human rights are violated to be guided by the principle of universality of human rights and the rule of democratic values.
We encourage continuing pressure of any kind on the countries that violate human rights and demand abstaining from repressions against civil society and any actions aimed at limiting civil rights.
In addition, the Platform calls on democratic countries to increase support for civil society in countries where human rights are not respected, regardless of their economic and political contacts with the regimes of these countries.