Atlas’ Freedom Marathon opened on the 15th of September 2021, on the international day of democracy.
Why? At Atlas, we have been working on democracy for years now. We have organised hundreds of protests across the world to stand with those defending their rights against authoritarian regimes. We have lobbied governments to unite and impose coordinated sanctions and to provide safe haven. We have raised awareness and continue to do so with events such as those ones. We are working hard to create a union of democracy: a digital state made of people to protect freedom fighters, hold democracies accountable and innovate it all!
Here's a quick recap:
🎙️Panel discussion | Freedom Fighters, Unite
- President Guaido is the interim president of Venezuela, widely recognized as the legitimate leader by the international community
- Wai Wai Nu, a Burmese activist and founder of the Women's Peace Network
- Vladimir Ashurkov, a Russian political activist and the executive director of the anti-corruption foundation
- Ted Hui, a hong kong politician in exile, member of the legislative council
- Veronica Tsepkalo, one of the three leaders of the national democratic movement in Belarus.
In the opening panel, we brought together freedom fighters from all across the world to explain how their countries became authoritarian, the tactics used to crackdown on dissent, and the methods that those fighting back have used.
Here are some of the key recommendations that the speakers had for the audience, on how we might support one another for democracy:
- File lawsuits to ensure accountability and justice
- Isolate dictators, no official visits
- Share stories of political prisoners: they must not be forgotten
- Sanctions are an effective tool to push negotiations but are not enough, mobilization like street protests is also needed
- Terminology is important. We must call dictators “dictators”, not presidents
- It’s key to understand when pressure can be applied. At the moment, the opposition is not strong enough to confront the regime. Instead, it’s focusing on building strong organizations for when the regime will ultimately crumble.
- Investigations on the corruption of officials in state-owned companies is fundamental
- UN is mean to avoid war or send aid, but can’t take sides on democracy or autocracy, it’s not the appropriate body
- Everyone must raise awareness of the danger of a lack of democracy even if that’s in far-away countries
- Protest in front of consulates and embassies in democratic countries to keep the pressure up
- Use stunt actions to increase solidarity, such as bringing protest flags into city councils, houses of representatives etc.
- Sanctions against HK or China not viable due to economic interests unless public opinion worldwide don’t influence legislators: hong kongers overseas have a lot of skills and networks to lobby governments to take action
Wai Wai Nu
- Criminal accountability is key
- Sanctions and Arms embargos are fundamental
Workshop| How can we best protect & support freedom fighters across the world? Let’s discuss and create an action plan!
Following the panel on how to get freedom fighters to unite and join forces across the world, we held a workshop on how we, normal people, can best protect & support freedom fighters across the world. This workshop was highly participative thanks to the methodology and research done by Atlas’ volunteers.
It started with practical interventions from the following speakers on how to support them at home:
- Anar Mammadli 🇦🇿: a prominent human rights activist in Azerbaijan. He is active in observing and monitoring elections.
- Tamara Adrian : is a Venezuelan politician, who was elected to the National Assembly of Venezuela.
- Ammar Abdulhamid 🇸🇾: Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian-born author, human rights activist, political dissident
- Felix Nkongho 🇨🇲: Anglophone Cameroonian human rights lawyer
The audience then proceeded to developing the ideas, debating them and extracting a concrete plan of action for each on a digital tool called padlet. Here are some of the key ideas that were the most voted upon:
Push Governments to have a Democracy Minister:
- This would mean working for democratic governments to have a secretary of democracy/minister of democracy in their governments. This minister would focus on the status of democracy in the country on a regular basis and recommend policy changes, and assess the country foreign policy and its ability to support democracy abroad, especially pro-democracy governments and pro-democracy freedom fighters, and file recommendations
- Action Plan. 1. Make list of democratic governments 2. Outreach to representatives with the request to create petition; 3. Create a campaign to create the petition if no response though a. Mobilization, B. democracy correspondents in media outlets (see idea below)
Push media to have democracy correspondents & create a database of journalists interested in it
- Action plan for democracy correspondent: 1. Create a narrative that highlights the urgency to cover challenges to democracy globally. 2. Seize social media channels to mobilise public opinion globally towards the idea
- Action plan for database: 1. create database, 2. outreach to them when some news needs to be created 3. raise awareness
Strengthen accountable & effective governance
- Action plan: 1. compile best practices of institutions and nations(-building) and 2. push countries to work toward those goals through democracy minister