A Great Wall of Protest Battles Despotic Delusion

By Novar Caine

Colonel Kadhafi has ordered the execution of soldiers who refuse to shoot dead their protesting fellow citizens. A video posted on the internet apparently shows the remains of Libyan army men who were burned in their barracks for not carrying out the demand of their despotic leader. Kadhafi has vowed to open up arms supplies around the country so those loyal to him can gun down the demonstrators, who are insisting on an end to his rule.

As the UN Security Council voted to impose a raft of sanctions on the oil-rich country without any trappings of democracy – parliament among them – Kadhafi, who has been in power for 41 years and is aged 68, went on western television this week to insist his bloody crackdown on the rolling democracy revolt that has claimed around 1,000 lives and caused some 100,000 to flee to neighbouring countries was justified. The leaders of world powers, aghast, immediately branded him “delusional” and they are correct.

In Britain the colonel’s assets have been frozen, including a minority stake in the country’s Financial Times newspaper; and across wider Europe multimillion-dollar bank accounts held by members of the Kadhafi family have been blocked. The US said it has frozen around US$30 billion in family assets.

Kadhafi’s power is sliding away, drastically, and is now only centred mainly around the capital Tripoli and some southern bastions, while protesters are said to be in control of the important oil-producing areas. Yet as the opposition rallies continue – sparked by regional unrest that has ousted the Tunisian and Egyptian leaders and is rumbling through parts of the Middle East – the Libyan president, long an eccentric curiosity with his desert-tented meetings and penchant for a female security detail and private, voluptuous nurse (and his fear of flying over water, as revealed in a WikiLeak) – remained true to form.

He said of his people: “They love me. All my people with me. They love me all. They will die to protect me.” The man severely out of touch, as US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said of his comments, cannot see the reality that he is killing his own people, including with air strikes, to protect himself.

Rice said: “It sounds just frankly delusional, when he can talk and laugh to an American and (an) international journalist while he is slaughtering his own people.”

People-power in Indonesia toppled a president in 1996 who had turned the office into his own property. After 32 years in power, Suharto was reduced to a frail, quivery mess. I was on the streets of Jakarta as the tanks rolled in and fires burned across the city. Suharto tried to bolster his authority, but it was too late; his time was up and ultimately this is the fate of every dictator and despotic regime today. It is all for the good. A country does not belong to one person; it belongs to all the people.

As the pro-democracy revolts continue in the Arab world, there is disquiet in another part of the globe: in the halls of power in Beijing.

After foreign journalists were roughed up this week by security forces when they tried to report on soundings of dissent in China, the ruling Communist party – the only party – announced that foreign reporters must obey their laws. In cyberspace, campaigns calling for the overthrow of the regime were gathering pace and attempting to slip around the massive internet-censorship machine. “We hope that journalists, if you proceed from the need of reporting news rather than creating news or creating incidents, cooperate,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. That’s the sort of language that is going to further inflame anti-government protesters.

China continues to outrage free-thinking people – a quality derived from basic human rights – with its intolerance for free thinking. It locked up last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner because he spoke out against the government; it will not allow the meditative group Falun Gong to practice their peaceful art, instead branding it a heretical organisation; and as the Tiananmen Square tanks showed, Beijing stands forever ready to quash any protest. With what has and is happening in dictatorial nations now, this cannot last.

When it is all over, there may be an ultimate prize: A far freer world than at the start of 2011.

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