On this day that we celebrate the 25th anniversary of People Power Revolution, we in Akbayan Youth stand in solidarity with the all the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East.
We see the similarity of their struggles to ours during 1986. We also had a dictator who nearly brought our country to economic depression, tortured thousands of dissidents, and practically declared war on his own people. We see the similarity of their quest for democracy and our struggle to reform ours.
We stand with the people of Tunisia in charting a democratic course and their aspirations for free and fair elections. We stand with the people of Egypt who have now been promised free elections six months from now. We stand with the people of Libya who are now facing violence from a dictator who has vowed to die a martyr and has commanded his mercenaries to sow terror in the streets of Libya’s cities. We stand in solidarity with the people of Bahrain who have pressured their government for reforms and greater democracy. We stand in solidarity with the people of Iran who once again have stood up to challenge their government.
We stand with the people of this region and beyond who are fighting for basic rights and democracy with only their voices and their numbers to use against the overwhelming power and force of their governments.
The recent events in North Africa and the Middle have shown the strength of the democratic spirit in overcoming all odds. Despite threats of murder and imprisonment, the people have flooded their streets in the tens of thousands. They have done so to reclaim their dignity and regain their rights. They have waited too long under the burden of tyranny and corruption for their leaders to grant them respite, to no avail.
Although there has never been an absence of individuals in those countries to oppose their governments, they always fell short in overthrowing their dictators. Prior to their demonstrations in the streets, they lived under tyranny of their leaders, many of whom professed to wield absolute power in behalf of the people. Now it is different. The spontaneity of the protests despite the immediate crackdown by the government on known dissidents shows the reality that their revolution is a revolution by the people.
It is apparent that the lack of leaders in the mass protests that overthrew Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt meant that the people did not need anyone to lead them in their struggle. It also sheds light on the very nature of their movements.
Their leaders were once respected soldiers, politicians and leaders much like Marcos. Promises of economic development did become a reality but only for their leaders and their cronies. Years before the overthrow of Mubarak, the working classes were already suffering from an economic crisis that was fueled by cuts on state services and from violent repression of union activities. In Tunisia, massive corruption in the government saw prime real estate and businesses expropriated and given to the regime’s cronies burdened the citizens amid the cavalier attitude of the government towards a growing unemployment.
Despite the violence inflicted on their person (Muammar Gaddafi has even vowed to unleash his mercenaries on the protesters), the people have not used or taken up arms. In confronting M16s, sniper fire, tanks, and fighter jets the people have chosen the path of active nonviolence or peaceful resistance.
The people of North Africa and the Middle East have decided that enough is enough. They will no longer live in fear and bear the infamy of being the home of many of the world’s dictators. They are one in spirit in condemning the robbery of their freedoms.
We proudly stand by them.