By Neha Gupta
Saturday night, on 26 February, 2011 The UN Security council voted unanimously to impose sanctions against the Libyan authorities, slapping the country with an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court.
Libya’s ex-justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Ajleil who resigned as justice minister has led the formation of an interim government, comprising military and civilian figures based in the eastern city of Benghazi, who would prepare for elections within three months, it has been reported.
Now let us go back and see how it all started and why?
The Arab countries like Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya etc had been getting suffocated under the autocratic rulers and lack of democratic governance since decades.
Uncontrollable corruption, police brutalities, lack of free and fair elections and lack of freedom of speech, unemployment, food inflation and other similar issues have been creating unrest and dissatisfaction against incumbent strongmen. This sense of dissatisfaction has been on rise because of more people getting educated, better understanding of their rights, lack of economic opportunities even for skilled population. All this has been leading to an increase in political instability in the region.
The recent wave of revolutions was marked by the starting of ‘Tunisian Revolution” in December 2010 also called as “Jasmine Revolution” by the media in keeping with the geopolitical nomenclature of “Color Revolutions”.
(To read about the details of “Color Revolutions”, please check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_revolutions)
Since the first clashes of the protest took place in Sidi Bouzid (a city in Tunisia), Tunisian revolution is also called Sidi Bouzid Revolt. The protests of Tunisian Revolution were sparked by self immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi on December 17, 2010. He was a street vendor who set himself on fire in protest of harassment inflicted on him by a municipal official. The social and political unrest was prevailing in Tunisia since three decades. But this recent event led to intensification of anger and violence and revolution began with civil resistance including street demonstrations and finally leading to ousting of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine on January 14, 2011 and end of 23 years old regime of this autocrat. Although it resulted in scores of deaths and injuries mostly due to action by police and security forces against demonstrators, it finally freed Tunisians of corruption and harassment.
The success of Jasmine revolution inspired action throughout Arab world.
The Egyptian Revolution being a latest example which has also resulted in success. It began on 25th January, 2011 with street demonstrations, rallies, labor strikes and violent clashes and brought together millions of protestors from various social, economic and religious backgrounds demanding overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and again putting an end to one more regime full of corruption and repression. On February 11th, 2011 he stepped down and marked a new dawn of hope for Egyptians. With the end of this regime they will also be relieved of the Emergency law which was in effect since 1981 and was doing no good to the citizens except robbing them off their constitutional rights, increasing police powers and legalizing censorship. This revolution is being called “Lotus Revolution” by Western news sources like Jasmine Revolution.
Libya, one of the largest oil producers of Africa is going through the worst bloodshed in recent history. Libya, although gained independence as kingdom of Libya in 1951, is being ruled from 1969 till present by Muammar al Gaddafi who rose to power in a military coup. In 1972 Gaddafi acquired the post of the Prime Minister..He is one of the longest serving rulers in history. He is reported to have earned for himself and his family some 60 billion dollars. After abolishing the monarchy of king Idris, he encouraged anti western radicals.
He based his new regime on Arab nationalism, welfare state and popular democracy. Various roots of his political philosophy are combined in his personal manifesto “The Green Book”. In 1977 he proclaimed that Libya was changing its form of government from a republic to a “Jamahiriya” meaning government by the masses. But the reality remains very much the same as a personal rule by one man.
No foreign press is allowed in Libya. Here political parties were banned by 1972 Prohibition of Party Politics Act Number 71. Trade unions don’t exist and there is no right to strike. Following the success of Egyptian Revolution, protests here began on 15th February, 2011. By 20th Feb more than 200 people had been killed in Benghazi. On 21st Feb, Libyan Air Force Aircraft attacked civilian protestors in Tripoli (the capital of Libya). The Libyan government has shut down the internet and mobile phone network in attempt to hide the brutal violence. Several Libyan officials stepped down or distanced themselves from Gaddafi declaring his regime to be illegitimate and accusing him of genocide and crime against humanity in his attacks against the people of Libya.
Gaddafi has declared war on its own people. He has openly declared that he will not leave Libya and would prefer to die here as a martyr rather than fleeing. Various cities have slipped out of his grip. Now that even police and army have declared that they are against Gaddafi, it is worth seeing how Gaddafi saves himself?
Furthermore protests have also been taking place in Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Pakistan and elsewhere in Middle East and North Africa.
In Algeria at least 5 people have recently put themselves on fire in a replica of the immolation protests of Tunisia. In other places also people have started putting up protests and demanding political reforms and also end of dictatorships. Although many governments have been taking “precautionary measures” by deploying extra police in various sensitive areas, it is almost impossible to stop masses when they stand together and come forward against their rule. Already some kings, princes and rulers who fear a similar uprising have started negotiating with the people’s representatives about their demands etc.
Protestors all over the world have been using the social networking sites like twitter and facebook to bring people together and serve the cause. Many experts have commented that wikileaks and these social networks have contributed a lot in this mass uprising all over the world.
Although most Indians have been brought up learning to mind their own business and not to interfere in the matters of others, I think at least everyone feels proud to be a citizen of this “World’s largest democracy”. Those who understand how important real democracy is, should come together and raise our voice against the dictatorship all over the world and express our solidarity to all pro democracy protestors fighting against autocrats and authoritarian rule. And let jasmine, Lotus and all such flowers spread the fragrance of democracy amidst the stench of corruption and harassment.