12 February 2012

‘Democracy’ at gun-point!*

It’s a strange word-twist and hence the need for quotes. Democracy in recent times have turned definition on its head.  It has provided much grist for the lampoonist’s mill.  ‘Be nice to us or else we will bring democracy to your country,’ screamed Uncle Sam, fully armed and standing in-your-face among the carnage that has been the collateral of ‘democratization’ in recent months.  A blogger (NoealamInSL) gives the gist in a post titled ‘Regime change strategy and action plan’:

First provide arms to a selected rebel group.  Wait until civilian killings take place. Give media coverage on civilian casualties.  Pass a UN resolution calling for the protection of civilians. Freeze financial assets (advance payment for war or investment) and impose sanctions (more business for coalition partners and commissions for bringing in business). Destroy cities from air (to avoid own casualties) to 'protect civilians' (killing even more civilians). Transfer money for cost of war.  A better solution to western credit crisis!’

It didn’t happen that way in the Maldives, though (or in Grenada or Haiti).   Mohamed Nasheed won an election in 2008. He didn’t put his corrupt and authoritarian predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom through the mill.  He didn’t go on a hunting expedition. He set about correcting systemic flaws, knowing well that ‘dictatorships don’t die when dictators leave office’.     

Nasheed’s observations on the matter are telling: ‘The wave of revolutions that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year was certainly cause for hope. But the people of those countries should be aware that, long after the revolutions, powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.’

Gayoom was ousted but Gayoomism survived, along with ‘a looted treasury, a ballooning budget deficit and a rotten judiciary’.  Nasheed sorted certain things out but proved to be (inevitably?) too slow in getting the cronies out.  He was surrounded first by those accused of corruption, embezzlement and human rights violations, then by the mobs they deployed, some in uniform.

But it also had a judiciary handpicked by the former president, which was now hiding behind a democratic constitution. These powerful judges provided protection for the former president, his family members and political allies, many of whom are accused of corruption, embezzlement and human rights crimes.  He gave them free speech and that freedom was abused to fan the flames of intolerance, culminating in his eviction and the wanton destruction of invaluable artifacts representative of the island nation’s rich cultural heritage, including its long association with Buddhism.
Nasheed was hoofed out of office. At gun point. It was a relatively bloodless coup d'état, but a vile act nevertheless.  Worrisome as these developments are, worse is the unholy and shameless hurry by the United States of America to officially recognize the new government. ‘What now, “democracy”?’ is the question that the US State Department is probably not going to answer.  
Nasheed, as S.H. Moulana has claimed in a pithy comment, is neither an Assad (Syria) or a Gaddafi (Libya).   He liberated Maldivians from the humiliation of depending on the crumbs the rich left on their tables, introduced free medical services, improved public transport and provided better housing for the poor. He was putting a system in place, an institutional arrangement that had the potential of making ‘democracy’ meaningful.  He was tossed out and the tossing out is being cheered by the Grandmasters of Democracy-Speak, no less.  Should we not call it humbuggery?
Gayoom’s only claim to fame is his contribution to the debate on global warming, prompted by the real threat of the Maldives disappearing from the face of the earth in the not too distant future.  It is indeed ironical that Gayoomism has found a new lease of life and been endorsed by the most pernicious contributor to global warming. 
The Maldives have taken a big hit. Vandalism and cronyism have got a boost.  The civilized thing would be to condemn and lament.  Democracy at gun-point is ‘something else’.  Dictionary compilers may have to rewrite a definition for that word; children encountering it for the first time could get confused.   
*Editorial, The Nation, February 12, 2012
Reactions:

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"A senior US diplomat backed the new authorities, saying the nation was not ready for snap elections.

"The police, election commission, and judiciary are not sufficiently prepared to ensure free and fair elections," US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said after talks in the Maldives capital, Male."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16998151

US is essentially saying there is no need to rush new elections. Observe the difference between this and the way US would have reacted if the person deposed is one of the west-friendly leaders.

Ari said...

Finnish government to ban our organization? Helsinki district court was ready to ban our organization! An official had told this threat to our chairman in a meeting in the Ministry for Internal Affairs.

A government's threat to ban a peaceful organization (because of its opinions) violates the principles of democracy.

Ethnic cleansing in Western Uusimaa in May 1918 and Forssa region. Some 200 Finnish civilians, men and women, were executed by the Swedish battalion in Western Uusimaa. The Swedes executed at least 460 Finns in the spring 1918.

TV and newspapers broadcast disinformation about history and all political issues. Censorship in the mainstream media makes Sweden, Finland and Norway a kind of dictatorship countries, ruled by the political and economic elite.

In the Scandinavian countries the political and economic elite controls the media.