December 17, 2010 will go down in history as the day generation next took on the high and mighty powers that controlled their lives. This very day, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young jobless man in Tunisia was prevented by officials from selling vegetables on the streets of his town Sidi Bouzid without any official permission. As a mark of protest at the apathy of the government towards thousands of unemployed youths in his country Tunisia, the young man set himself ablaze and soon succumbed to severe burns.
Mohamed Bouazizi’s self immolation act triggered countrywide demonstrations against the government which further snowballed into major violent confrontation between the police and the protesters leaving scores of people dead. The death of the protesters did not go in vain as the then President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, who had been in power since 1987, was forced to flee the country paving way for a democratic government to come up. With high inflation, lack of employment, high level of corruption and the government’s apathy towards them, the people’s action came at the right time. It also set the ball rolling for other countries which faced a similar situation, to emulate Tunisia and its revolt against the ruling leader Ben Ali.
Egypt, highly influenced by Tunisia was the next in line to face such a crisis situation when its people openly took to the streets to protest against the authoritarian rule of its leader Hosni Mubarak who for the last three decades have been ruling over Egypt without any strong opposition and rigged election process. High level of corruption, unemployment and rising food costs along with farce of an election process, forced the youths of Egypt to stage a peaceful protest in the city of Cairo since January 25 this year, against the nearly dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak’s government. The demonstration which had been peaceful soon took a violent turn few days ago when pro Mubarak supporters violently clashed with the anti Mubarak protesters leaving many dead and hundreds injured. Speculations have been high that these so called pro Mubarak supporters were paid to unleash violence of the anti Mubarak protesters. And yet the protests spread across the country bringing both the young and the old alike, men and women and children to the streets to demand an end to Hosni Mubarak’s rule and a democratic government in place. Tunisia had set the ball rolling and Egypt and its leader Hosni Mubarak was the first casualty in its path. How soon Mubarak goes and what fate awaits him, only time will tell. People have taken on themselves to openly voice their dissent against corruption, inflations and unemployment among other social causes.
Elsewhere, other countries under dictatorial rule like Zimbabwe, Yemen, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Algeria and others are waiting with bated breath to see the end results of the Egypt uprising. Even democratic countries are keeping their fingers crossed to see the after effects of the Egypt affairs on other countries. For a country like China which had always worked with a communistic attitude, even she is wary of the developments in Egypt and keeping a close tab on the crisis knowing quite well the repercussions of it in China as well, which over the years had been dictatorial in its ruling.
Closer home, Zimbabwe has been reeling under the dictatorial rule since 1980 of Robert Mugabe which has seen the economy of the country dip to such a low level that Zimbabwe has been forced to discontinue printing of its currency. Yemen too has been witnessing a spate of demonstrations against its President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been in power for the last 32 years. Leading a corrupt government and alleged ties with militants, the protests against Saleh has gained momentum after the Tunisian uprising. Saleh’s days as the leader of Yemen seems to be up as far as the reports go.
In Asia, North Korea stands out for one man who has headed the country for the last sixteen years – Kim Jong-Il with sheer compliancy of his personal interests at heart. This resulted in high level of corruptions with more than 200,000 political prisoners in the country, large amount of food shortage that has resulted in the death of more then two million people, public tortures and executions, infanticides etc. North Korea’s people however can take respite from the fact that an ailing Kim Jong-Il’s days are numbered and a change is about to sweep across the country soon.
Back in Africa, Sudan too faced political unrests as youths took to the streets to protest against its leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir who has been in power since 1989. Bashir to his credit has crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide against his name as a result of which the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against him. Whether he gets arrested first and ousted later or ousted first and arrested later, we’ll have to wait and watch.
Algerian President, 73 year old Abdelaziz Bouteflika who has been in power since 1999, is another man whose troubles seem to be staring in his face. Under his rule, the country witnessed high corruption, increase in unemployment level, lack of growth opportunities for the youths and with the result oriented uprising in its neighbor country Tunisia, Abdelaziz surely has some defying moments lined up with so far seven deaths in the country on account of self immolations that have been emulated after the death scene of Mohamed Bouazizi, the young man from Tunisia who set the ball rolling for a revolt against the corrupt Tunisian leader, Ben Ali.
Right now, the world and specially the autocratic rulers across the globe are waiting with bated breath as to what the next course of action will be by Hosni Mubarak who has openly stated a couple of days ago that he’ll step down as the leader when his term expires in September 2011. However, the citizens of Egypt are in no mood to wait that long to see this oppressive ruler step down and as the country embroils in further demonstrations, it is to be seen in which direction Hosni moves next. And if oppressed citizens under autocratic rulers across the globe take the matter into their own hands and imitate Tunisians and Egyptians to demand for a corruption free and democratic state, time will tell. But surely, the flames of people’s uprisings are burning brightly as of now.