democracy

Six activists arrested in Harare, along with 39 others, were finally granted bail on March 16 after a month in jail. The activists were arrested for attending a video screening of footage from the people’s uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. However, the six need to raise US$12,000 to pay their bail — far more than they can afford. An appeal is being launched internationally to raise the funds needed to pay the activists’ bail (see below for details). The bail conditions require the six to surrender passports and travelling documents. They must report three times a week to the police.
The government of Bahrain unleashed a brutal crackdown and invited in foreign troops on March 14 in an attempt to end pro-democracy protests that have lasted for more than a month. One thousand troops from Saudi Arabia and 500 police from the United Arab Emirates have entered Bahrain, ABC’s Lateline said on March 15. The Bahraini government declared a three-month long “state of emergency” on March 15, the Washington Post said that day. A government statement said that “the nation’s armed forces chief is authorised to take all measures to stamp out protests”.
Opinion polls are predicting that the likely winner of the April 10 Peruvian presidential election will be Alejandro Toledo. The candidate of Possible Peru, Toledo was the neoliberal president from 2001-06. After the narrow victory of the moderate left candidate Susana Villaran from Social Force in the Lima mayoral elections last year, it was predicted that the left’s prospects might improve nationally. So far this has failed to materialise, owing partly to a redoubled effort by the elite and its foreign backers to promote Toledo.
Progressive Indonesian website Berdikari Online said in a March 14 editorial that the recent US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks exposing the corruption of the Indonesian government confirmed what most Indonesians already knew. However, it said the leaks have further delegitimised the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In his two terms of government, the editorial said, Yudhoyono has imposed neoliberal policies and acted as a puppet of US imperialism.
“Ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid” is how one US official described the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. Manning, a private in the US army, has been held in solitary confinement for nine months at Quantico Marine Corps Brig while awaiting a pre-trial hearing. Breaking government ranks, spokesperson for the US State Department PJ Crowley criticized on March 10 the reported mistreatment of Manning. This mistreatment has included Manning being forced to strip and remain naked in his cell.
Sequences to freedom is a book of short poems written in February by Iranian poet Ali Abdolrezaei that has been translated into English by Abol Froushan. Abdolrezaei, from Gilan province, is now a refugee living in London. Abdolrezaei said: “I never thought that one day I would write purely political poetry, but the inhuman atrocity dealt by the Iranian regime nowadays is so beyond proportion that it is politics that is writing these poems.” Below are two of the translated poems published in Sequences to Freedom. * * *
From the cramped prison cell that has become his home, 23-year-old Army Private Bradley Manning is cut off from the world. He has had no opportunity to share his side of what could be the biggest whistleblowing story the world has seen. What we do know of the alleged US war crimes whistleblower comes from the authority of friends and family — or from Adrian Lamo, the man who reported Manning to US authorities for allegedly leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks.
See also: Who is Bradley Manning? Corporate media smears WikiLeaks After months of investigation, the US Army has filed 22 new charges against US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning. The charges include “aiding the enemy” — a crime punishable by death. The prosecutors have said they will not recommend the death penalty in this case, but Manning still faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Saif al-Islam, the billionaire son of Muammar Gaddafi who was the neoliberal darling of Western governments until only recently, boasted in a March 10 interview with Reuters that forces loyal to his family were now on the offensive against rebel forces. NATO, for its part, has decided against military intervention — for the time being. However, France became the first government to recognise the rebel Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) set up in Benghazi on March 5. AFP reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also proposed “targeted air strikes” on Libya.
The much-feared secret police and intelligence service that protected the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by arresting, torturing and even killing opponents has begun burning documents and evidence that could incriminate them. This comes as calls escalate to abolish the force altogether and bring its officers to justice. Hundreds of protesters surrounded the main office of Amn al-Dawla, the State Security Police, in 6th of October City, on May 5 to try to stop the burning of files. Protesters shouted: “Justice, justice for they fired bullets on us.”

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