Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rights advocates in M’sia should enlarge their minds and hearts



Ronald Benjamin

22 Nov 2015, PM 8:00


It is quite interesting to note as reported in online media, that Bersih has called the United States hypocritical in supporting authoritarian leaders. It is surprising that Bersih has taken a long time to understand that in reality, the US is more concerned about geopolitical and economic designs rather than democracy and human rights.



While US President Barack Obama and British PM David Cameron may come from democracies that practices transparency, it is their forefathers of democracy who created democratic foundations, and certainly not these leaders who are global authoritarians and imperialists that one should seek support to pressure Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to come clean on human rights and corruption.

One has to congratulate Cynthia Gabriel from anti-corruption watchdog C4 for at least discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Human rights advocates such as Bersih should understand that there is something called hegemonic politics where leaders, whether authoritarian or democratic, will be targeted for regime change if they are not part or supportive of exclusive self-seeking imperial designs of the West or regional powers associated with it.

Saddam Hussein was toppled because of oil and he could not fit into the hegemonic politics of the US, Israel and US corporate lust for oil. Bashar Assad seems to be too close to Iran so he had to be disposed off, using his flaws as a dictator as a premise for regime change. Authoritarian Iran seems to be the consistent target of hawks in the US and Britain for its anti-Israel policies.

If one looks at the situation in West Asia, America and Britain are basically on the side of authoritarian leaders who have oppressed their own people, and paradoxically trying to topple authoritarian leaders who do not sing to their tune.

If the United States and Britain really care for human rights, they will not have Saudi Arabia as its ally, which is the greatest violator of human rights such as freedom of religion and expression, besides being an extremist nation which is the bedrock of the Sunni extremist movement in the Middle East.

Currently the US is providing weapons and military support for Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. Thousands of people are dead due to this war. The US, Britain and Saudi Arabia, in their endeavour to topple Bashar Assad at all costs, increased the sale of weapons in Syria, resulting in the growth of the uncontrolled barbaric organisation called IS or Islamic State, that has killed scores of Christians and Shiites in that country.

Today this brutal organisation has turned global without borders. Aren’t the rights to life and dignity the cornerstone of human rights? Is it not right to assert that narrow domestic focus of human rights could play into the hands of hypocrites like Obama and Cameron as they strategise the imperial design for Asean?

This clearly shows issues are indeed complex and not just about whether a leader is democratic or not. It is obvious that advocates of human rights in Malaysia should enlarge their minds and hearts to complexities of issues, so that they could appear credible and consistent in opposing both authoritarianism and imperialism which are antitheses to human rights.

Islamic ideology and its desire to control and dominate are linked to these twin forms of oppression that we see in the world today.

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