September 12, 2014

Cardin, McCain Lead Senate in Annual, Global Celebration of Democracy

Monday, September 15, the United States and others worldwide will recognize a commitment to the protection, advancement, health, and sustainability of democracy throughout the world

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have introduced S. Res. 540, a Senate resolution in recognition of International Day of Democracy this September 15.

“We have seen democracy take root in extraordinary and heartening ways around the globe. But it is clear that democratic progress is not irreversible and we must work to safeguard it every single day,” said Senator Cardin. “In too many countries, the fruits of democracy are denied to people struggling for its benefits. There is an unprecedented global crackdown on civil society organizations seeking to express their voice and exercise their rights.”

“Earlier this week, Hungarian authorities raided the offices of two NGOs in Budapest in what appears to be part of a tightening squeeze on civil society. Such actions not only undermine democracy but chill investigative reporting on corruption and good governance.  Now, more than ever, is the time for the international community to push back on threats to civil society and protect efforts by these organizations to build strong democratic institutions.

“Twenty-five years ago, I traveled to Europe with the Helsinki Commission to raise critical human rights issues including the denial of the right to leave for Soviet refuseniks, brutal repression of minorities in Romania, and the imprisonment of dissidents such as Vaclav Havel. Hungary played an extraordinary role in opening the borders for East Germans fleeing west, and played a pivotal role when it removed the guards its border with Austria. Above all, Solidarity in Poland stood as a singular inspiration for all people living under totalitarianism and Soviet domination. I stood in Berlin as the wall was coming down and will never forget that moment when the will of the people was finally recognized,” Senator Cardin added.