Estonian grassroots movement Kõigi Eesti: freedoms might already be at risk

The Kõigi Eesti grassroots movement that was started in March out of concern about the recent developments in the Estonian politics, on Sunday issued a strong statement, influenced by the historical events and quoting a legendary writer, in the face of public threats and intimidation by the far-right Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) that was recently included in the country’s coalition government.

The Kõigi Eesti (#kõigieesti #общаяэстония #myestoniatoo) movement that was started with a massive action in the social media in March and a popular concert in April by residents of Estonia from all walks of life and from various communities, published a statement on its 28,000-strong Facebook page on 5 May, in which it drew parallels from 1934 and encouraged people to keep a free Estonia safe.

The statement was issued amid reports that, for the first time since 1991, Estonia’s constitutional rights and freedoms were under heavy pressure and attacks by the far-right. Since EKRE’s inclusion in the coalition government – by the invitation of the populist-leaning Centre Party, and with the support of the conservative Isamaa – the party’s offensive rhetoric against specific Estonian people and large groups of the society has not only stopped – the rhetoric has intensified and become more aggressive.

The party’s leaders, several of its MPs and the fake news media outlet the party runs, have aggressively attacked Estonian doctors, journalists and officials; the country’s president, Kersti Kaljulaid; and foreign students.

On 5 May, the Kõigi Eesti movement issued a statement in which it emphasised that Estonian values originate from the Estonian people – and only the people can defend their personal freedom, not a prime minister, a new government or politicians.

Estonian World publishes the statement in full:

Maybe it feels easier to go with the flow, saying nothing. Maybe you’ve compromised your principles in the hope that you and your family will be all right. Maybe you’re hoping all of this is only temporary.

Maybe you feel people are overreacting. Things aren’t that bad. Life continues as normal. Nothing has happened. But as soon as you fail to defend your freedom, and shrug your shoulders, life changes.

It won’t be the same Estonia. Yes, of course, we’ll still be part of Europe, and the coalition treaty promises shared values. But it won’t seem like that though. It will feel different.

Our nation’s values have started to change quickly, and it’s been noticed abroad as well. Right here. Right now.

The crisis can’t be solved by a prime minister, a new government or politicians. Journalists, businesses, our allies abroad or anyone else, for that matter, can’t stop our values from being eroded. Only we can do it. We, who are afraid. We, who give up. We, who are too complacent to do something.

Estonian values originate from the Estonian people. If you give up, so does Estonia. Only you can defend your personal freedom. Indifference and giving up betray the country.

Everything might be OK for you now, but for someone else near you, things are already becoming more difficult. Their freedoms might already be at risk. They aren’t as free. And if you won’t help them, you won’t be free either. Do something!

Fear and complacency have a great power over us, but so does a kind word. Through protest, critical thinking, protecting someone else, offering a helping hand, you show you still have your heart, your soul, your words. Use them.

You, me, us. We’re not the first in Estonia to be in this situation. It’s happened before, and not so long ago.

In 1934, at the start of ‘The Era of Silence’, Estonian writer Friedebert Tuglas wrote:

“The same old tune: a crisis of democratic thinking, the masses longing for the authority…

A questionable democracy, there only for the show. Even more questionable are the democrats who support it only for show! Aren’t these so-called friends the first to flame the crisis of democracy? Aren’t they the ones whose words cause psychosis and the spread of panic, just to fall pray en-masse to the first adventurist?

Our brief modern history, the past 60-70 years, isn’t that just about us striving towards a more liberal society? Towards judicial, material and spiritual freedoms?

Isn’t everything we’ve achieved, achieved by working together, through universal democracy?

Through this, we’ve risen from nameless slaves to a force to be reckoned with in this country.

This is why our past speaks only about fighting against foreign powers, against leaders by the grace of God.

Now, when we’ve finally achieved the freedom to think and act democratically, we appear to want to fall back under the control of an authoritarian leader. We’ve forgotten the price we paid for our freedom. No-one seems to remember the lesson from history about how hard it is to win back something that’s been lost.”

Let’s keep ourselves, and a free Estonia safe. Let’s keep our Estonia safe.


The cover image courtesy of Kõigi Eesti movement.

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