“Friends, citizens, it is my grave duty to inform you that our government has lied to us. They have suppressed and distorted the truth for decades now and it is time the veil is pulled back so that you can come to understand what sort of people rule over us. They have cheated and exploited their way to power. Now they wield it only to further their own interests.
In the last week, a report has been uncovered which provides evidence to at last prove that-”
—A broadcast from Prima made two years ago by an unknown organisation, halted mid-sentence by the Council.
The Coalition of Political Prisoners is a group of individuals who are known political dissenters, whether they were convicted for being as such or not. They have formed a coalition in order to protect themselves from the patriots of the prison, and from the guards who know that a blind eye will likely be turned to harsh treatment of such prisoners.
Despite what the government might purport, not everyone is happy with the way the Elysian Empire runs. A growing number argue that the ever-increasing distance of leadership from its population has created a plutocracy, where only the rich and well-placed have a say in governance. Others denounce the war effort and advocate for peace to be made with the Tel. Yet more decry the censorship, harsh punishments, and poor working conditions that the government imposes. Though some may espouse such views, not many may continue to espouse them as a free person for very long. Most are sentenced for some act of sabotage, though it remains a point of protest that evidence is often somewhat lacking in these trials.
There is little by way of one coherent resistance. Instead, there are pockets on each planet with varying levels of organisation, from tight knit groups operating within cities, to insurrectionists with military precision spanning planets, to loosely connected individuals who work against the government mostly alone.
Given the lack of any uniting banner of resistance across the empire, it is understandable that individuals vary widely in terms of what issues concern them and what solutions they believe in. The most hard-line are revolutionaries who advocate for a complete overthrow of the Council through whatever means necessary. More moderate members are reformers who often want devolved powers for the planets in the Empire, or a more inclusive democracy. Some members just want the end of the war. One thing they all agree on: something has to change. They're just not entirely decided upon what or how.
Due to the patriotism the Elysian Empire is known to encourage, life can be very difficult for political dissenters in prison. This has meant that those sent to the Redemption Reform Facility as political prisoners or conscientious objectors have traditionally banded together to protect each other from the harassment of the True Elysians and the guards who would like to make examples of them. The group is a disparate collection of anyone in the prison who stands against the actions of the government.
Most of these people are convicted of political crimes (sabotage, inciting riots, desertion, refusing conscription, violation of the orders of The Board of Directed Truth, etc.) whether rightfully so or not. Not all members' crimes are political; some were converted to the cause after entering the prison facility. The make-up of the group largely reflects the make-up of the resistance outside the prison: a coalition of white collar intellectuals with ideals and blue collar workers who have experienced injustice first hand.
Their main aim as a group is the safety of political prisoners, though some still attempt to engage in protest, lobbying, and organisation from within the prison. These attempts are generally ineffectual, but it is not uncommon for fierce debates to rear within the group. Whether the outcomes of these debates have any practical implications from within the facility is doubtful. There is no official organisation or leadership within the group, but a few outspoken individuals generally take point on any issues that arise, and they are known to take votes and appoint speakers when decisions need to be made.
The group has also extended a hand of friendship to the Tel prisoners of war, due to pressure from the anti-war members and the influence of Aanya Khatri, but not all members are happy with this.
Though there are many complaints one might make about the Elysian Empire, the key issues often protested are noted below:
Government Seizure of Resources for the War Effort:
Wars are incredibly draining on the production of an empire. There are troops to feed and weapons to build, so it is only natural that the government began to requisition a percentage of food produced on the agricultural planets both to feed the army and to feed the planets and colonies producing their machinery of war. This has led to a few patches of famine here and there in the Empire, but the government maintains that it is for the greater good.
Poor Workers' Rights:
Similarly, the government has begun to redirect labour towards more industrial planets. Factories have struggled to keep up with demand, meaning that labourers are often pressured into working longer hours in more dangerous conditions to match the production targets that are being set increasingly high. It is also heavily affecting the non-planetary colonies.
Possibly the most important thing a war requires is an army. To inflate their numbers, the government has begun to enforce a small amount of conscription, predominantly from non-planetary colonies, though some are from planets which, notably, do not have Elected Representatives at this time.
Lack of Adequate Representation:
Those who are hit worst by the war effort are often those who are voiceless in government. It follows that, as an ideological or a purely practical issue, one rallying point of protesters is the need for a greater level of democracy. People vary in how they want this achieved. Some want to see the expansion of the Council itself, others the Short List, and still others simply want the Electoral College increased. A small number want to see non-planetary colonies included in the voting process.
A few of more artistic temperaments, or with strong principles of freedom of speech, centre their protest around the fact that those who speak out against the government are silenced. This includes the production of any literature or art work deemed 'un-patriotic' by decree of The Board of Directed Truth. After all, anything stirring sympathies for the Tel could harm the war effort.
The War and Expansionism:
A number of pacifists take issue with the war itself, and in particular the treatment of Tel prisoners of war. They argue that the Elysian Empire is expanding without regard for other cultures or peoples inhabiting the systems they are colonising, and that it is a waste of resources and of sentient life.