Tag Archives: democracy

Myanmar-In Name Of Democracy–Shut Up!

Myanmar’s military junta is in the process of submitting a new constitution for their nation which supposedly will allow democracy to flourish. As first step in the move toward Myanmar style democracy the government stated anyone who distributes lelaflets or makes speeches against the new constitution can be imprisoned for three years. The Constitutional Referendum to be submitted to the nation allows for voting to be postponed or canceled in places affected by a “natural disaster, security breach, or other harm that could endanger the holding of a free and fair referendum.” The new constitution contains a provision that will prevent opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for public offices.

In the wonderful world of Myanmar democracy, anyone who makes speeches or hands out leaflets opposing the new constitution is guilty of a crime. Among guidelines for voting, any Monks, nuns, high-ranking Christian and Hindu officials or the mentally ill are not eligible to vote in the upcoming free election. Ballot boxes will be counted at polling stations and no outside observers will be allowed to monitor the process in order to ensure that democracy is in full operation. Actually, why bother to hold a “referendum” when the result of it is already known? The farce of what goes for “democracy” in Myanmar is an insult to the intelligence of the Burmese people.

Mystery Unfolds-Medvedev Asks Putin To Be Prime Minister

Dimitry Medvedev, who was anointed by President Putin to be his choice as the next president of Russia announced he was asking Vladmir Putin to serve in his cabinet as the prime minister. “I am calling on Putin to agree to become the head of the Russian government after the election of the new president.” Medvedev emphasized that Russia was fast becoming a prosperous nation and the world was giving it new respect due to the leadership of Putin. “We are not being lectured like schoolchildren” anymore. Many western observers believe Medvedev is the best choice in terms of future hope that he can move Russia into a more democratic government stance. He does trace his roots back to St. Petersburg which was the home base of Putin, but Medvedev does not have any connections to the old KGB group that surrounds Putin.

Medvedev is not going to immediately transform Russia into a vibrant democracy, but he at least offers hope the Russian government will be more receptive to differing views. Putin assumes Medvedev will stand back and allow the “father” to run the show while the “son” nods his head in agreement. This is not the first time in history when a father wound up surprised at his son’s actions nor is it the first time that son’s rebelled against the father. The best strategy for a new American president would be to dismantle missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and reach out to Medvedev in a new partnership.

Kuwait Cracking Down On Terrorism– Or Is It?

The Kuwait Ministry of Awqat and Islamic Affairs is launching a campaign to halt the spread of terrorism in its nation. From now on, it will “monitor” all speeches given in mosques by Imams and preachers which lean toward fostering feelings of anger and violence. Anyone who uses a mosque in order to preach about politics will be punished “suitably.” The Ministry of Education intends to educate youth about the dangers of extremism. “Most extremist organizations,” said a spokesperson, “target students, incite them and send them to Iraq and Afghanistan or to any other part of the world to wage Jihad.” The Awqat Ministry is determined that everything possible be done to ensure this culture not take root in Kuwait.

The assumption of Kuwait authorities is that some type of “education program” will deter young people from moving away from violence toward acceptance of the world in which they live. The root causes of Muslim youth deciding to participate in a “jihad” do not spring from lack of education, they arise from dissatisfaction with society or anger that those in authority are not adhering to the tenets of their religion. Although Kuwait has taken steps to expand the parameters of democracy, it still has a long way to go on this issue. Perhaps, if young people could participate in democratic encounters within their society, they might be less inclined to go on jihads. Muslim youth, like so many other young people in this world, are seeking justice and peace. One does not “educate” youth about democracy, one “practices democracy.”

Pakistan Political Parties Debate Election Stance

The situation in Pakistan regarding the January election for parliament is still unclear as political parties explore their options. Although Secretary of State Rice said the release of 5,000 prisoners was a positive step toward restoring democracy, most political parties have yet to decide if Musharraf will actually allow a free vote. The 53 nation Commonwealth of nations bloc suspended Pakistan until that nation restores constitutional government. There appear to be two schools of thought among opposition parties as t the best strategy of combating Musharraf. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is supporting the position of its exiled leader, Nawaz Sharif that a boycott of the election is the best way to handle the current situation, but Pakistan People’s Party leader, Benazir Bhutto has authorized the party’s candidates to file papers as though they intend to run for office. However, Bhutto made clear that was not a final decision since she is working closely with her former opponent, Nawaz Sharif on how to restore democracy to Pakistan.

In the swirling confusion of Pakistan, President Bush did not help forces of democracy by announcing he had complete confidence in Musharraf’s commitment to democracy. Bush’s failure to take a strong stand by insisting on restoration of the constitution and allowing the sacked supreme court to resume its power sent a signal to Musharraf that America would stand by and watch democracy destroyed in Pakistan. Bush never ceases to announce his determination to fight terrorism, but when it comes to an actual case in which the United States can actually assist a nation to foster democracy, he walks away.

Rise Of A New Class In China

A “new social stratum” is emerging in China according to a study initiated by China’s Communist Party’s Central Committee. They are labeling businessmen and professionals as a new factor in the history of Communist China. “They want to participate in political affairs and realize their political ambitions so that their interests can be protected and voices head,” said the report The “new social stratum” includes private entrepreneurs, technicians, and managerial staff both in private and foreign-funded businesses. In a survey conducted in the province of Guangdong, only 19% of this group was satisfied with their participation in political affairs. Few of them have links to official Communist Party leaders and find difficulty getting across their views to the government. There are signs a few from this group are beginning to enter local politics.

The emergence of the “new social stratum” offers China great hope for the development of democracy. In the coming years people from this group will become more involved in Communist Party internal politics and get their voices heard in the halls of power. The new group is not interested in traditional communism and will shift the nation slowly, but gradually in the direction of a more democratic, capitalistic environment.

Democracy Does Work In Muslim Nations-New Study

Alfred Stepan, director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Tolerance and Religion at Columbia University, told an Indonesian audience the myth that democracy and Muslim religion being incompatible is just that– a myth. He pointed out there is a significant difference between the practice of democracy in Arab nations with other nations in which Muslims are in the majority. “So if you focus on Arab countries, you’ll get a total misconception.” He argued that Americans tend to equate Arab nations with their notion as to what is the Muslim religion and this leads to misunderstanding about the nature of Muslim life in the world even though Arabs make up only 22% of Muslims. In reality, half of all the world’s Muslims, 600 million people, live in democratic, near-democratic or intermittent democratic states. He pointed out to his Indonesian audience, “In Indonesia, Muslim identities are often moderate, syncretic and pluralist.”

Americans frequently fail to recognize the fight for democracy has been an ongoing process for hundreds of years and only recently has it become commonly accepted as the norm in such regions as Europe. The myth of Muslims being unable to accept democracy serves the Bush administration well because it wants to demonize its opponents by attempting to convey the image they are terrorists because of religion rather than for other reasons.

Putin Is Now Claiming To Be For Democracy!

Under the “leadership” of Vladmir Putin, the once growing state of democracy in Russia has increasingly been stifled. The press requires licenses to operate and all opposition television stations are no longer allowed to broadcast. Governors are no longer elected but appointed by President Putin. Now, this man who fears democracy announced he is establishing a new think tank for democracy in Brussels. He says since the European Union once helped Russia to develop democracy, “I think the time has come for Russia, given the growth in our financial capabilities, to make its contribution in the sphere as well.” When asked if Russia would make their venture a joint one with European advocates of democracy, his spokesperson said it would be 100% Russian. The Institute would monitor the rights of ethnic minorities, immigrants, and the media in Europe. One goal would be to protect rights of ethnic Russians in other nations.

One can only welcome the establishment of an institution to protect democratic rights. It might be helpful if Putin would create a branch office in Moscow to protect the rights of people in Russia. This is merely another clever device by a very clever man to divert attention from his own failures in supporting Russian democracy.

The End Of Freedom Of Press In Russia?

President Putin’s latest announcement of his most probable intention of become prime minister after he steps down as president is another example of the growing trend in Russia towards one party government. Putin has already ensured government control over all main television channels in order to prevent opposition voices from being heard. Recently, radio stations carrying BBC news reports or Radio Free Europe broadcasts were harassed into ceasing such activities with threats of losing their licenses. The highly respected Educated Media which trains journalists and fights for freedom of the press was just shut down. Several journalists have died under mysterious circumstances, the latest being Ivan Safronov who supposedly plunged to his death from his apartment. Safronov had printed an article exposing failed missile tests which reportedly infuriated the Defense Department.

In a Moscow Times story, the newspaper says, “the crackdown on Russian news media has proceeded unabated and, if anything, with even greater intensity.” Putin has undoubtedly brought stability to Russia after the free wheeling 1990s. He has slowly pushed out wealthy businessmen who in any way posed a threat to the government’s monopoly over major industries. In a sense, he has modernized communism while claiming to support free enterprise. America was blessed with leaders in its early years as a democracy who “walked away from power” to ensure democracy would survive. Putin always walks towards power and his place at the center of it. In that sense, he represents a tragedy for development of democracy in Russia.

Chinese Leader Backs Democracy_ Which One?

Premier Wen Jiabo of China urged communist party leaders to support a new China dedicated to ideas of progress and reform. He wants a nation with “distinctive Chinese features and reform and opening-up; we can surely build Chinese unity and a modern socialist country of prosperity, democracy, high ethical standards and harmony.” Chinese leaders continue employing words such as “democracy” while stifling free speech and imprisoning dissidents. Perhaps, it is time for leadership to implement words into action.