Monday, February 21, 2011

Mood of Revolt Spreads to Zimbabwe

[President Mugabe]

from today's New York Times:

HARARE, ZIMBABWE Dozens of students, trade unionists and political activists who gathered to watch Al Jazeera and BBC news reports on the uprisings that brought down autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.


James Sabau, a spokesman for the police, which is part of the security services controlled by Mr. Mugabe’s party, was quoted in Monday’s state-controlled newspaper as saying that the 46 people in custody were accused of participating in an illegal political meeting where they watched videos “as a way of motivating them to subvert a constitutionally elected government.”

The evidence seized by the police included a video projector, two DVD discs and a laptop.

Lawyers for the men and women in custody said they had not yet been formally charged but had been advised they may be accused of “attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means,” a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The fighting and killings in Libya and the arrests in Zimbabwe, compared to the relatively bloodless overthrows in Tunisia and Egypt, show that not all dictatorships are created equal, not all revolutions are created equal, and not all armies and police behave the same.

But the pressure on President-for-life dictators all over the world can be expected to be relentless in the coming years. The French Revolution did not mean the end of monarchy in Europe for more than a century in some places, but it put European kings and aristocracies on the defensive throughout the 19th Century. We may see the same in the 21st century.

But my guess is that it will not take as long as it did in Europe. The internet does not just enable people to organize against tyrants. Before that, it shows people by word, sound, and video examples of dictators being overthrown.


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