Is Freedom and Democracy a given?

The Sakharov Prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament to individuals who have promoted human rights and freedoms. Last year's winner was Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested and brutally beaten by the morality police for wearing the hijab 'incorrectly' during her visit to Tehran in 2022. This incident was followed by mass protests under the slogan "woman, life, freedom."

Freedom, that´s the theme that links the winner of this prize and the European Parliament. While in other countries people are fighting for basic human rights and freedom, in the European Union, we are privileged to live in a democratic society that respects these values. However, many of us take freedom and choice for granted. The fact that these values are not a given is demonstrated by the story of the Sakharov Prize winner, as well as by the countless documentaries screened as part of One World and other festivals.

Freedom should therefore not be taken for granted. From 6 to 9 June, elections to the European Parliament will be held across the European Union. Free elections are the cornerstone of democracy. The European Parliament is the EU's only directly elected institution, which aims to promote the interests of citizens and guarantees respect for human rights which are unfortunately often violated in the outside world.

Within the EU countries, the average voter turnout in the last European elections was around 50%, but in the Czech Republic it has been significantly lower for a long time. In 2019, it was only 29%, the second worst voter turnout in these elections. And the outlook according to the spring Eurobarometer survey puts the Czech Republic in last place among all member states in terms of possible participation in the European elections. In view of, for example, the international events over the last few years, it is good to express your opinion, and this year's European elections are a good opportunity to do that.

So come to the polls on 7 and 8 June, vote and show that freedom and democracy matter!