democracy

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.”
Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced on March 7 the dissolution of the country’s secret police arm, the British Guardian said that day. This step toward democracy is the most important taken by any Arab country for decades. Tunisia’s interim government also abolished the Ministry of Information, which had been in charge of censorship, allowing a free press to flourish, GlobalPost.com said on March 7.
The pro-democracy protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have the potential to have a huge impact on world politics. The stakes are very high. In Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s tiny island neighbour, protesters have mobilised in their hundreds of thousands for weeks to demand the Khalifah royal family be removed from power. Bahrain is of great strategic importance for the West. It hosts the US Navy's fifth fleet and a US airbase. This helps ensure US control of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the ability to maintain a constant threat against Iran.
The government in Yemen is becoming more desperate amid continuing protests across the country calling for the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Tensions came to a head when security forces fired on protesters at a university in the capital Sana'a, killing one person and wounding many others, AlJazeera.net said on March 9. Security forces also gassed the crowd with what is alleged to be nerve gas, SMH.com said on March 10. Despite the attack, thousands of protesters defied police and continued occupying the university square, AlJazeera.net said.
In a July 2010 interview with WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, TED.com’s Chris Anderson said WikiLeaks had released in just a few years more classified state and military documents than every other media outlet combined. “It’s a worry isn’t it,” Assange said. “That the rest of the world’s media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to reveal more of that sort of information than the rest of the world’s media.”
The regime of Muammar Gaddafi has escalated its violence against rebel forces seeking to bring it down. On March 6, opponents of the regime were reported to be in control of several cities, especially in Libya’s east. AlJazeera.net said on March 4 that anti-government protests in the capital, Tripoli, had been met with tear gas by security forces. Opponents said Az Zawiyah, a town just 40 kilometres from Tripoli that is home to an oil refinery, was mostly under rebel control.
The US Army announced on March 2 that it has charged 22-year-old Private First Class Bradley Manning with a further 22 charges. Manning is being held on suspicion of having leaked classified information to WikiLeaks. One of the new charges is “aiding the enemy”. This means Manning could face the death penalty if convicted. So far, Pentagon and military officials have found no direct link between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In the face of renewed protests in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, Tunisian prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned on February 27. This was one of the key demands of the popular movement, which has continued to push for democracy in the aftermath of the January 14 toppling of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In another concession to the mass movement, the interim government announced that elections for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution would be held on July 24, AlJazeera.net said on March 4.
The self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Buazizi in December triggered off protests that brought down a 24-year-old dictatorship in that country and inspired similar protests in neighbouring countries. Buazizi, a 26-year-old computer science graduate and unemployed street vendor, carried out his drastic act in protest at having his only source of income — his produce — confiscated by police. This embodies just how much the combination of unemployment, spiralling food prices and brutal repression has become a potent cocktail of discontent that has exploded across the Arab world.
The article below is abridged from SocialistWorker.org. Protest messages to the Zimbabwe embassy in Australia can be sent to zimbabwe1@iimetro.com.au . * * * The resistance sweeping the Arab world and the repression against it has reached southern Africa, where more than 50 activists have been arrested by the Zimbabwean regime of President Robert Mugabe. Those arrested include former member of parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai and other members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in Zimbabwe.

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