Index on Censorship was established to provide a voice for dissidents living either under authoritarian regimes or in exile. Throughout our history extraordinary people have written for us and we have campaigned for their freedom. Every time Index seeks to intervene there is obviously a consideration made about who we seek to shine a light on and which regimes are of concern but the reality is we don’t get to choose dissident leaders and we don’t get to choose who inspires a movement. Our role is simple – we are here to campaign for equal access to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We may not like the actions of some dissidents, we may not like how they have used their rights to free expression – but we exist to ensure that they have that right.
Index operates from a position of luxury, from the security of a democratic country. Our human rights are protected in law. For far too many people in the world that is not the case. Which brings me to the case of Alexei Navalny – we may find his comments as a younger man abhorrent, but his actions as a dissident leader cannot be questioned. His ability to inspire a nation to challenge an authoritarian regime is extraordinary. And the fact that he has nearly lost his life in an attempted chemical poisoning is beyond doubt. Navalny is a political prisoner. He is a dissident. He deserves our solidarity.
Index stands with Navalny.