by admin on 09/05/13 at 6:10 pm
By: Joseph Kaskanian
Living in the United States, I’ve had the opportunity to fully express myself, including the right to protest, and the right to speak and publish everything on my mind. But in looking at other countries around the world, I’m shocked at how these fundamental democratic rights are not allowed to be practiced. Simply put, we all live in this world together, and so every human being should be allowed these rights; these are the fundamentals of democracy. Rosa parks once said, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing, when it is right.” But when a government takes action against their own citizens for simply voicing discontent toward government policies or actions, they shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves a democracy.
One such example is the Republic of Azerbaijan. Article 47 of the constitution of Azerbaijan states that “Every Person shall have the freedom of Thought and Speech. Nobody shall be forced to identify or refuse his/her ideas and principles.” However, reports by the Human Rights Watch reveal that, since early 2006, “Azerbaijani authorities have not authorized a single opposition protest in the center of Baku, instead forcing all demonstrations into designated zones on the outskirts of the capital.” The democratic world continues to witness major violations from the Azerbaijani government on these fronts.
“In November, the parliament increased sanctions for participating and organizing unauthorized protests, establishing fines of up to 1,000 AZN ($ 1,274) for participation, and 3,000 ($ 3,822) for organization… In October, police rounded up dozens of protesters in an unsanctioned rally in central Baku, roughed them up and forced them into buses. Courts imprisoned 13 on misdemeanor charges for up to 10 days, and fined several others… In April, police detained 20 activists distributing flyers encouraging people to attend an opposition rally. Courts sentenced 7 of the activists to 10 to 15 days of detention, and fined or released others.” Read the full report.
Needless to say, these are just a few examples out of the countless violations of basic democratic rights committed by the government of Azerbaijan.
Former president John F Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” If we believe in democracy, then we believe that we cannot allow any citizen of the world to remain unheard. Everyone should have the right to express his or herself.
I ask you all to not simply read and forget about these issues, but to actually do something to bring about change. We must be the voice for those who cannot speak; we can’t sit back and watch our fellow humans be imprisoned, harassed, and murdered for speaking their minds freely. At the very minimum, let’s work together to spread knowledge of the truth–not some false government-sponsored “truth”, but the actual truth.