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Thursday, June 23, 2005

From democracy in Korea to democracy in Egypt

Some on the Korean left have taken the struggle for democracy in Egypt to heart. From this week's Socialist Worker:

Solidarity with Egypt from South Koreans

On 9 June a diverse group of anti-war and human rights activists gathered in front of the Egytian embassy in Seoul, South Korea to demonstrate against Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

People chanted “Down with Mubarak”, “Kifaya!” and “Victory to the Egyptian people’s struggle for democracy”.

It might seem that South Korea is far away from Egypt and that no one here would be interested in what is going on there. This is far from the truth.

When South Koreans hear about Egypt’s Kifaya movement and Mubarak’s desperate attempts to hang on to power, we immediately make a connection to our former military rulers.

We too have seen rulers pushing political “reforms” that are nothing more than shams to maintain control.

Our military rulers also resorted to brutal violence when challenged. A prime example is the Kwangju Massacre in 1980, where citizens of Kwangju city were shot to death by the army.

Rulers all over the world are learning from each other about how to control the people. This is why it is so important that people struggling for democracy build strong international solidarity and also learn from each other.

On behalf of the South Korean anti-war and human rights activists I hope for a great victory for the Egyptian working people fighting for democracy and real change.

CJ Park, All Together, South Korea

Meanwhile, Raed reports on Condi's recent speech in Egypt where she said that the US would now be seeking democracy in the Middle East rather than just stability as it had done in the past. And who was she saying this to? Around "700 invited government officials and academics". Would these be the same government officials who have been busy brutally repressing the Kifaya democracy movement in Egypt? Is this the same government that the Bush administration gives more than a billion dollars a year in military aid and praises for its limited democratic reforms that everyone else believes are designed to smooth the path of succession for Hosni Mubarak's son? (Ring any bells NK watchers?)

The battle lines are clearly drawn between people who want real democracy, whether they are in Korea or Egypt, and the Bush administration, which wants fake democracies that it can easily keep under control:
Abdel Halim Kandil, a member of the opposition group Kifaya, said his organization was boycotting Rice's speech and visit because reformers in Egypt don't want to seek the help of a "big dictator'' against a "small dictator.''

"We believe the U.S. administration is not making a serious effort to support reformers,'' he said.


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