‘I Still Have A Dream’…
Majority of the Authoritarian rulers believe that they would continue to stay in power, forever. They also believe even if they do not stay in power, no one would be able to take stock of their misdeeds and punish them. That is why they do not allow the common people to express their views, and keep many behind bars without judicial trials. They do so in order to stop people from criticising them. They take this stand because of the confusion about the future among the common people, although there is no real basis for exhibiting it…
There is a close connection between the ignorance of authoritarian rulers (as far as Politics is concerned) and the Uncertainty in the lives of the common people. Once, noted Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz had reminded people that time would never forget the misdeeds committed by an authoritarian ruler. In his poem ‘Hum Dekhenge‘ (‘We Will See‘ 1979), he wrote that the common people would judge each and every action of the political leadership, and that too, precisely. So, according to Faiz, the rulers would make a mistake, if they think that history would forget their misdeeds. He also said that their perception lacked the concept of Justice… so, they used to underestimate the common people. Although Faiz had written the poem in the context of former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Haq’s authoritarian rule, it is still very much relevant.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Today, the authoritarian rulers are destroying the Democratic Rights in different parts of the world in the name of Race, Class, Nationalism etc. Naturally, people are staging protests against the moves made by their Governments. Unfortunately, the decision-makers are not ready to hear those voices, and are constantly trying to project those people as traitors! However, protests are the last option for the common people to get Justice.
When foreign countries condemn an authoritarian ruler, s/he argues that the Global Community has no right to interfere in the domestic issues of a different country. And, the Authoritarian Governments continue to use muscle power in order to control the protesting voices. They forget that everyone in this world has the freedom to look at others, as the Freedom of Speech is closely related to Human Rights. In the past, the Global Community had condemned Apartheid in South Africa, the US’ attack on Iraq, Genocide in Rwanda, atrocities against the Palestinians…
Generally, the youths stage anti-Government protests. In recent times, women have started taking to the streets in many countries. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for the authoritarian rulers to suppress the common people’s voice! In their publication ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions‘, Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze said that the protesters have managed to snatch the symbols of Nationalism and Patriotism from the authoritarian rulers, who used those symbols to stamp their authority over the common people for long. An authoritarian ruler cannot high-jack the National Anthem or National Flag to serve her/his own vested interest!
What is required at this hour of crisis is to sensitise people about their basic (Human) Rights. It is also important to force the authoritarian powers to ensure political and social rights. John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873) had opined that the success of Democracy would depend on Freedom of Speech. Therefore, Democracy has a duty to ensure and protect the Freedom of Speech. When the Political Society fails to safeguard this Freedom, the Judiciary plays a positive role in ensuring this.
J S Mill
It is evident in History that it’s not possible for the authoritarian rulers to hide their misdeeds, forever. Time and again, they made serious attempts to create different stories with the help of State Power. However, those did not last long! Democracy bounced back strongly, riding on people’s power. Once, Martin Luther King, Jr (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) had said: “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” All of us have the responsibility to lead the Society to Justice, and to fulfill our cherished legitimised dream.
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