The campaign was launched in 2006 by the Young European Federalists under the name of “Free Belarus Action” to raise awareness against the Lukashenka regime, considered as the last dictatorship in Europe. Since then, JEF Europe has been lifting the voices and the stories of  activists and  citizens demanding to live in a democratic country.

Unfortunately,  recent times have shown that threats to democracy and the rule of law concern several countries on the European continent. Hence, JEF actions have been rebranded under the name “Democracy Under Pressure” in 2014 and aim at drawing attention to the systematic weakening of democratic values on which the European Union is founded.

What do we do?

In the past 15 years, JEFers have been showing how crucial abstract concepts such as democracy and the rule of law are and how important it is to recognise when they are being taken away. Through very concrete actions – such as gagging statues, organising awareness-raising activities, flash mobs, debates, articles, press releases, partnerships with other civil society organisations and local and European authorities – JEF has  strived to make sure that the voices of those who are silenced by the ones  who want to put democracy under pressure continue to be heard and supported in solidarity. 

15-year anniversary

The 2021 edition of Democracy Under Pressure took place between 18-25 March and marked the 15-year anniversary of the campaign. This year, JEF actions have raised awareness on how the Covid-19 pandemic has been exploited to tighten the authoritarian grip or ease the violations of human rights. A special support was also given to the demonstrations in Russia protesting the jailing of opposition leader Navalny and to Belarus by joining the Solidarity Day on the 7th of February. 

How? We gagged statues; we clapped for democracy; we sent letters to political prisoners in Belarus; we asked our town halls to be lit up in red and white in support of the Belarus people (in partnership with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and PLATFORMA); we wrote to universities asking them to stand in support of the many Russian students who were expelled for taking part in protests; we organised debates and conferences to raise the attention on rule of law violations in many European countries, we wrote more than 27 articles in 4 different languages in the JEF Europe’s webzine. 


How can I get involved?

Stay tuned to join our next action week on 18-25 March 2022!

In the meantime, there are several actions you can take to support the people fighting for their rights and democracy.

What can you do?

  • You can send an hand-written letter to one of the over 900 political prisoners in Belarus, detained for peacefully protesting against the Luakshenka’s regime. With this simple gesture of solidarity, you can show your support for their struggle and let them know that we are fighting to let their voices be heard.
    At the moment we sent over 100 hand-written letters to political prisoners.  You can find information on how to do the same here.
  • You can consider making a donation to support the victims of political repressions in Belarus. The initiative #BY_help collects money for them to cover the costs of their fines, lawyer fees as well as medical treatment and rehabilitation. You can transfer the money via PayPal or Facebook donations. You can also support dissidents financially via others dedicated platforms, including BySol and A Country to Live In .
  • You can keep organising or joining events on democracy and the rule of law as some JEF sections do between the annual #DemocracyUnderPressure action weeks. For example, the 29th of May marked one year since the start of non-violent protests in Belarus and their harsh repression and JEF supported the new Solidarity Day with Belarus called by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and invited JEFers to join the Global Picket of Solidarity with Belarus.
  • You can dedicate more time to learn about the threats to democracy and rule of law in several countries. Not only will you discover the struggles that many young people are facing but you will also learn how to recognise when similar threats are posed also to the democracy in which you live.

👇 Learn more 👇

Check out our country profiles and watch our country talks in the videos below.

They support us 🤝

Many Members of the European Parliament support #DemocracyUnderPressure. You can find their names here and listen to their words in the videos they sent us 👇

#DemocracyUnderPressure has also many other partners, including civil society organisations, youth parties, student societies, European municipalities and regions!