By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
As a foundation to this discuss there is the predisposition to assume the following factors as some of the most potent provocative of violence: policies of political repression and domination, economic injustices, re-empowerment of instruments of violence and fanaticism. Political repressions and domination are so prevalent that illustrations abound. Proper justice to the conversation will involve cursory excursions into some of the many instances. Subsequently, attentions will be accorded to the other factors.
Policies of political repression and domination
Belligerent political forces, dictatorship and territorial aggression have collectively placed today’s world in danger of steady violence and wars. The acts of violence against indigenous peoples for their resources, the policy of population displacements, mass arrests of leaders of indigenous people, incarcerations of protagonist self-government, group punishment given to agitators for justices and political recognition have obvious waves of radicalising the victims and enkindling determination for active violence as self-preservation instrument. Again strategies of violent repressions against self-determination have intense effects of increased motivations for militancy in the struggles. A predicable reaction to violent chastisement of the agitators of unjust system is the boldness to become potent dissidents. Chastisement is never known to have caused the weakening of the will but the craving to pick up weapons in a purposeful struggle against the avowed enemies. The armed revolutionists naturally embrace the ways of willful destruction, terror and violence. The reprisal elicited by the chaos always reproduces limitless circles of retaliatory violence. The end of the cyclical violence is deepening catastrophe of social turbulence, insecurity, destruction and death. The militants’ involvement in violence is for the sake of violence. The wild-like destruction, the indiscriminate bomb attacks, assaults on soft targets and staging of various armed confrontations with the state security formations are all strategies for relevance. Repressions of rights, cruelty or atrocity are conditions compatible with situations of war and destruction. War negates conditions docile to peace, stability and progress. Only under conditions of peace and nonviolent coexistence of states can culture of belligerence, violence and war be eliminated.
Principles of self-determination are incompatible with repression which defines the goals and policies of unjust political expansionism. The subjection of people to alien subordination, domination and exploitation constitute a denial of fundamental rights as defined by United Nations Charter advocating the rights of all people to self-determination. The international law commission specifically noted an ‘establishment or maintenance by force of colonial domination as an international crime.1 To ensure conditions fertile to peace and peaceful coexistence of states, United Nations adopted charters on peaceful resolution of conflicts ‘resolved to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind and reaffirmed faith in the fundamental human right, the dignity and worthy of human person, the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.2
Subjugation of rights are provocative, and societies or groups have chosen unconditional violence as essential tools of reversing the dehumanising drift. Due to treachery nature of the situation, violence and war have been incorporated as essential parts of liberation struggles. Many radicalised groups embraced violence as plausible alternative to captivity and the dehumanisation. Deprivation of socio-political, cultural and\or economic rights make sentiments of injustices palpable. Inter-state or territorial aggression promoted antagonism between nation states and make implausible possibilities of peaceful coexistence which is precondition for elimination of violence and the culture of war.
Societies or individuals combat with vicious vigour political order they perceive as oppressive and for the hardliners, nothing short of intense violence is acceptable as instrument of negotiation. In many instances, the hard-liners have championed protests that had profound negative impacts. Negative impacts in the sense that these protests regularly turned into extreme violence with horrendous consequences. Injustice often makes violent reactions involuntary. The oppressed are inclined to perceive violent responses as moral imperative against the adversaries and whatever represents them. There is the natural feelings of strength and obligation to fight for survival which is expected to culminate in the defeat of the enemies. Clamping down the radicals can only succeed in spreading the rebellion, increase causalities and popularise the revolt. We have often seen the most vicious of the ‘rebels’ crowned as the peoples’ heroes and venerated as the personifications of the struggle. Instances that buttress the above facts are incalculable and ubiquitous.
We have to call to mind a frosty relationship between Chinese government and her Tibetan colony. Tibetan nationalists see it as moral obligation to uproot in totality Chinese scores of impositions and reassert their autonomy as an independent state free from dubious paternalism of the world’s largest dictatorial regime. There was a distinctive crackdown by the Chinese authorities on the agitators for self-determination, but the efforts to weaken the unrest appeared to have inflamed the anger and determination of the agitators resulting in pandemonium and destruction. The crushing of the rebellion with determined brutality behind possible media coverage was recipe for multiplication of resentment expressed in violence. The rebellion in Tibet was timed enough to synchronise with the global attention on China then due to Olympics 2008. This uprising presented an ideal opportunity for all groups feeling oppressed to press forward their grievances against dictatorial Chinese communist hard-liners.
‘The biggest beneficiaries of the resentment in Tibet may be officials in Beijing who are opposed to the pace of liberalization. Analysts who included academics, diplomats and other specialists say leaders who are cool to liberalization effort are likely to see the disturbance as a major policy failure, for which Chinese officials who supported loosening the hard grip on the people will be blamed.4 Earlier in the year, hard-liners in Beijing exploited another kind of disturbance, students’ demonstration in several cities to mount an attack on ‘bourgeois liberalization’ and officials who tolerated it.5 However, the unrest would have unavoidably progressed into major recriminations or purges as happened after the students’ demonstrations, if the conservative hardliners effectively took advantage of the situation to launch an attack aimed at discrediting the proponents of liberalization programme. For S. J. Weng of Chinese university in Hong Kong, ‘most likely the conservatives will say, ‘look at what you have done. You are responsible, and this is what your open-door policy has achieved.6 In spite of all, ‘the hard-liners might find it difficult to explain how they would have handled the Tibet demonstrations, and it might be hard for them to wage new assaults on the proponents of liberalization…7 Several of the liberalization policies have to do with distasteful experiences of the past when during the cultural revolution which began in 1966 and lasted for ten years, Tibetan religion and culture were harshly repressed. In recent years the government has tried to make amends by restoring temples, increasing spending in the region, and offering concessions such as allowing parents to have more children than would be tolerated elsewhere in China. The reconciliation effort was most noticeable when a new Communist Party Secretary for the region then, Wu Jinghua, was a native of Sichuan province.8
The uprising that erupted on March 10, 1959 was suppressed harshly, although China disputes’ claim that thousands were killed when the army reasserted control between March 1959 and September 1960. Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and about 83,000 Tibetans were forced into exile.10 According to Times report, ‘tension already heightened by the anniversary, was raised further by a violent confrontation at a check point in a predominantly Tibetan county of western China as angry crowds hurl several home-made explosive devices, damaging a police car and a fire engine.11 In the attempt to stay clean and away from wild destruction in the enclave following many violent clashes with the police, ‘Beijing routinely blames the Dalai Lama’s followers for fomenting unrest and accused them of instigating the violence that rocked the Tibetan regional capital, Lhasa. The protest spiralled into anti-Chinese riot on March 14 2008, leaving many people dead.12
For centuries human society has experienced contrasting multiplicity of injustices expressed in confrontation. Man-made harsh conditions engendered by pitiless denial, oppression and subjugation often caused resurgence of violence and intractable wars. The political violence in many Arab states in 2011, generally referred to as ‘Arab Spring’ by main stream western media was engendered by political, economic and social injustices that for long characterized the governance. The violent demonstrations vigorously disconcerted political models in the Middle East and Arab African states. In Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Iran it was fought back quickly with combination of reform and terror but it expanded and still raging with full flame in Syria. In Syria the magnitude of the violent protests and the destruction that characterized them sent shock waves across the globe with the United Nation’s Security Council contemplating intervention to protect the citizens from the fury of their rulers who are bent on crushing every dissent. The violent political tension brought surprises and re-modelled political clock in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya etc, where sit-tight tyrants were either deposed, disgraced, humiliated, injured or killed. Gadhafi the former enduring tyrant of Tripoli was driven from power and murdered disparagingly. Gadhafi loved weaponries and proliferated them. In his lethal tussle against the uprising that humiliated him, Gadhafi solemnly vowed to crush anyone, anything in Libya contesting or challenging his authority as King of kings. Gadhafi’s dictatorship was whimsical regime of terror.
Since the protests that characterized the Arab uprising, Bahrainis saw their society progressively retrogressed into anarchy as culture of violence and bloodshed held sway. Several tens of people were slaughtered and hundreds wounded then in armed protests against alleged injustices and repression by the minority Sunni monarchy and Sunni ruling elites. The nation is ruled by Sunni Royal family with the aid of a collection Sunni aristocrats while the majority of the people are Shiites. This arrangement had never been without profound tension arising from feeling of lack of good governance, discrimination of the Shiite majority who feel they are disfranchised. While protests then never called for the immediate resignation of KingHamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the sectarian divide of Sunni and Shiite remains at the forefront of the protests. Shiite protesters demanded equality and reform to enable them have greater participation in government and society. The Shiites’ population was allegedly excluded from many types of government employment and municipal services. Shiites were by their own definitions marginalized.
The Sunni ruling minority held on tightly to power and refusing to countenance democratic reforms that do not guarantee their superseding privileges. Ordinary Shiite citizens of Bahrain complain of Sunni Muslim foreign nationals employed in the army and police who were given nationality and permitted enjoyment of many benefits to which they were excluded. There were Yemenis and Pakistanis in the police force while Shiite citizens remain without jobs. Shiites say the government excludes them from jobs, healthcare and other opportunities. Protesters claimed the authorities, who were close to Sunni Muslim in Saudi Arabia, have resettled in Bahrain Sunnis from other Arab countries and Pakistan in an effort to offset Shiite numbers. In Bahrain, the parliament had belittled role in governance and the cabinet is appointed by the king and most ministers are from the royal family. Bahrain’s rulers, under pressure from Western allies, pledged to allow peaceful protests and offered dialogue. They also released more than 300 people detained since a crackdown on Shiites’ unrest, the king, then, reshuffled his cabinet and appointed four new ministers and increased food subsidy and welfare compensations for each family to 1,000 dinars ($2,653). These measure were considered superficial by protesters who amplified the intensity of their violence vowing to not only make the nation ungovernable but to abort the then planned Formula-One motor race, Bahrain was billed to host. The insistence that the Grand Prix must go on by the rulers, ignited the wrath of the Shiite protesters who employed available tactics including hunger strike to stop the world event and destabilize the nation if their demands for political reforms were disparaged.
In Tunisia, the humiliation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after the violent protests has hardly extinguished the combusting rage ignited by his alleged maladministration and injustices in government for more than two decades. Mohammed Ghannouchi, a new Tunisian Interim Prime Minister, was forced to quit after deadly clashes between security forces and protesters which terminated the lives of five people. Ghannouchi stepped down on allegation that he was closely linked to the regime of Ben Ali. Ghannouchi’s resignation as Tunisia’s new Prime Minister after weeks of protests failed to quell criticism of the interim government as the opposition vowed prioritization of its demands- the formation of a constituent assembly and the recognition of the Council for the Protection of the Revolution- or else violence and instability. In Yemen, anti-government protests continued even after forced exit of her intransigent dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who then fled to America from Saudi Arabia where he was allegedly receiving treatment for injuries he received at the intensity of the violent revolt. Prior to the displacement of the President Saleh, violence was intensified as student protesters clash antagonistically with both government supporters and police. The police use of teaser guns and firing shots to disperse the large congregations of demonstrators had minimal impact. To be continued.
- See UN document in Vladimir Kartashkin (1989) ‘Human Rights and What We Argue About’ trans by Nancy R. Lasse, Progress Publishers USSR p.177
- See UN document in Vladimir Kartashkin (1989) op.cit.p.173
- PubPhilosopher.blogs, com/pub-philosopher/2008/03/ unrest-in-tibet.html p.1
- New York Times Tuesday March 18, 2008.
- The Times Tuesday March 10, 2009 p.6