The last ten days have seen massive protests in several countries, including Moldova, where the government is now accusing the organizers of peaceful demonstration on April 6 of inciting the use of extreme violence the following day.
On April 6, protestors participated in a “peaceful day of mourning” in Chisinau, in order to demonstrate against the outcome of the recent parliamentary elections. The next day, in a separate event, the protests turned into violent riots as the crowds attempted to overtake government buildings. It is unclear who started the violence, with witness accounts stating that objects were being thrown at police forces from the crowd as well as allegations that plain clothes police officers in the crowd provoked the violence.
The organizers of the April 6 demonstration, including fellow blogger Natalia Morar, used twitter and social networking sites to mobilize people. The government has accused these organizers of the peaceful protests of also planning the violence on April 7, even though they did not organize these riots. Two of the organizers, including Natalia Morar, are hiding, and urgent action is needed to protect them. The Economist just published a story that sums up Moldova’s chaos pretty well.
The protestors were demonstrating against the recent elections, which the opposition claims were manipulated. Faced with these accusations, President Voronin agreed to a recount, which the Constitutional Court authorized. This recount is being boycotted by the opposition, as they claim that it is a “trick” by the ruling party to distract from the fraudulent activities.
Moldova is a young democracy, gaining its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. The move to a democracy has not always been easy for the Post-Soviet States, and even within Moldova there is a disputed autonomous region. The recent election has demonstrated some of the divisions within the country, as the current government has close ties to Russia and many of the opposition wants to move closer to their Romanian and its Western neighbors. Despite the difficulties in of being a young democracy, human rights cannot be ignored. Not only must the government be held accountable for any human rights abuses already committed, but it must reaffirm its dedication to human rights, ensuring that they will be respected no matter the outcome of the recount. This recount should be transparent and fair.