Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Urge to democracy not universal

Moscow Tory has a fine post pondering the disparity between western countries’ reactions to political suppression in Iran and Georgia, two countries with records of human rights abuses and rigged elections. Simultaneous to the demonstrations in Iran, “masked police beat dozens of demonstrators in Georgia after they held a protest outside Tbilisi’s main police station demanding the release of six opposition activists who have been held since last Friday”.

“We are told that the values of democracy and human rights are universal. The British government spends a great deal of money promoting these values abroad and lecturing other governments about the need for accountability and transparency in the electoral process. We regularly summon ambassadors from African and South Asian dictatorships to lecture them about their treatment of ethnic or religious minorities, the need for fair elections and the importance of a free press. But time and time again we have shown that we are prepared to turn a blind eye when the people committing human rights abuses have declared themselves willing to serve our geopolitical interests.”

4 comments:

Gaw said...

We're always going to have an eye on our own interests. So sometimes democratic revolutions seem more important; as in Iran where nuclear weapons, oil supplies and a global ideology hostile to the West are involved.

Anyway isn't consistency overrated? No-one would end up doing anything if this was their overriding concern.

yourcousin said...

We are told that the values of democracy and human rights are universal

And they are universal rights. The fact that governments don't always feel that is the case (Western ones included and specifically) is disappointing, but should not be surprising. I mean it's government FFS, it's made up of people who make their living off blowing smoke up John Q. Public's ass all day.

But can someone please explain to me why observing this fact always to involve point scoring for respective teams, neither of which is whiter than white. With all due respect to the Georgian opposition, is anyone really suggesting that what they are going through is comprable to the situation in Iran (both short term and long) term) with respect to ruling regimes? Context and degree go a long way in this regard and point scoring at this juncture seems rather childish when there's blood in the streets of both Tbilisi and Tehran.

Chekov said...

With all due respect to the Georgian opposition, is anyone really suggesting that what they are going through is comprable to the situation in Iran (both short term and long) term) with respect to ruling regimes?

No. But it is not unreasonable to expect the attitude to be applied with more consistency if not with equal vehemence. Saakashvili's regime has not just been tolerated, it has been actively supported and encouraged. Repeated abuses have been deliberately and systematically ignored. The Georgian opposition are entitled to expect more and the impulse to intervene quickly in other situations makes failure in terms of Tbilisi all the more marked.

yourcousin said...

While I'm well aware of Dubya's frolics with Saakashvili you'll have to point out where Obama has actively supported and encouraged him. And it should be noted that until the demonstrations in Iran took a more serious turn (people being shot down in the streets and pro-government militia's rampaging through Tehran) the Obama administration was fairly tight lipped. I suppose that if hundred of thousands of Georgians took to the streets day after day and they were gunned down then you would see a greater response from the West.

Look, Obama isn't going to give alot of airtime to every protest and riot in Europe. You know that. You also know that Cameron will do the same thing. And that's what frustrating, that while you may feel genuinely aggrieved about this issue you're still point scoring.

You don't take the time to point out and condemn every Russian abuse there is (and lets face it, there's alot of them) so like I said orginally everyone's shit stinks. Instead of cheerleading for blocs of interests both of which committe this kind of hypocrisy we should as citizens demand that the universal rights of democracy and freedom be respected by all governments.

And on a side note, I finished Tim Judah's "The Serbs" and jumped straight into "Kosovo". Both are excellent reads. And I think now I'll have to concentrate on the Caucusus now for a bit. Thanks for the recommendations.