Saturday, August 06, 2011

Why Next Elections Won't Matter

At what point exactly did the revolution become about elections? What started out as a call for freedom, justice, dignity and economic reform is transformed into calls for elections and nothing else. The most common rhetoric goes something like, “Now we’ll have elections and we’ll get the democracy you asked for, what more do you want?”

But our calls weren’t for elections, they were for democracy and there’s a big difference. Democracy is a way of life, not an action performed once every five years. The answer to my first question: the point at which the revolution became about elections is when we thought we had successfully brought down there regime. The talk became about elections because we thought we had brought down injustice, tyranny, thuggery and gave value to the Egyptian’s dignity. The idea was that there were no more such battles to fight (not so vehemently anyway) and that the military was just an interim ruler with no hidden agenda.

It follows that if we have not successfully changed the regime, elections will not guarantee democracy, because they never have. Where have the elections of the old regime got us?

One then must establish that the regime is still intact. It seems such a claim hardly need establishment, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume the regime has changed. What are the characteristics of the new regime? How does it differ from the old? Will the changes or similarities guarantee democracy or at the very least free and fair elections?

The old regime manipulated state media to spread venomous lies. They censored television programs and newspapers and used their security apparatus to clamp down on anyone trying to disseminate information that threatens the regime. Currently all media is monitored by the current rulers. Anything that may portray these rulers as they truly are is punished, banned or reprimanded. In the event of news that incriminates the army, the presenters are summoned for questioning. How could there be free and fair elections when lies propagated in state media are so predominant? How will Egyptians be informed when rulers are creating news to match their objectives?

The old regime clamped down on protests whenever people called for their rights. They made arbitrary arrests through the use of plain clothed thugs and held people in prison without trail under the emergency law. Not only did one experience injustice but one was not allowed to even object to it. There was a constant violation of human rights in all forms. The current regime has gone even further by criminalizing protests. They have arrested protesters and illegally tried close to 10,000 in military courts without a fair trial in just six months. The sentences handed out were up to 15 years. They have tortured protesters and performed virginity tests on female protesters (a form of torture) and have not been held accountable. At the time of writing, CSF and military forces are banning entry to Tahrir, ensuring that the human right of freedom of assembly is violated.

The old regime relied on thugs to intimidate and hurt voters and citizens. They always had the backing of a political party that claims the governing of the country is impeccable. Other puppet opposition gave legitimacy to the corrupt state.

The events of Abbaseya on 23 July prove without doubt that the rulers are willing to hire more thugs than ever before and even protect them with our armed forces and central security forces. In addition, they created a new way of recruiting citizens to do their dirty work. They spread rumors about unarmed protesters inciting citizens to hurt them or even kill them. These injustices and violations have the support of the foremost, most organized political party today, the Muslim Brotherhood, along with other factions such as Salafis and old opposition. How can we not expect thuggery and intimidation during elections?

It seems to me that the current regime is more brutal than the previous regime, if not a vicious mutation or extension. So how is this regime really any different from the former and what evidence is there that supports the claim that the next elections are guaranteed to lead us to democracy or at the very least be free and fair? (Don’t tell me the people)

That is why elections won’t matter. It’s the same system with different players and new labels. If we don’t fight for democracy, elections won’t mean a thing.

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