News / Middle East

Arab Spring Gets Mixed Results in Advancing Human Rights

Protesters stand in front of riot police during a demonstration outside the parliamentary building in Tunis November 22, 2011.
Protesters stand in front of riot police during a demonstration outside the parliamentary building in Tunis November 22, 2011.
Nico Colombant

While the so-called Arab Spring, which continues to this day, has had mixed results in advancing human rights, activists around the world say they have been inspired by the movement to fight for change in their own countries. Some are taking notice as the world prepares to celebrate Human Rights Day on December 10.

Newly elected lawmakers in a post-dictatorial Tunisia, and voters in Egypt, finally taking part in free and fair elections, are some of the tangibles of the Arab Spring movement.

The protests started about a year ago and have rattled autocratic governments across the Middle East and North Africa.

Street clashes have continued, even in countries where long-standing rulers were toppled, such as Egypt. In Syria, there has been little change and lots of violence.

Other countries, such as Bahrain, have had repeated pro-democracy protests, followed by government promises but little action. Bahrain’s ruling monarchy recently said it would study new recommendations by a government panel to broaden free speech and freedom of assembly.

But a researcher with Amnesty International in Bahrain, Said Boumedouha, remains reticent to celebrate any human rights victory in his own country.

“There have been so many cases or instances where I mean, international organizations or local organizations have made recommendations, but they have not been implemented. And that is why people are skeptical about the whole thing about whether this government is going to implement those recommendations,” said Boumedouha.

More than 10,000 kilometers away in Washington, Jessica Mazour is taking part in her first protests. She is trying to bring together so-called Occupy protesters from across the United States to her state, Iowa, where in January, the nomination selection for 2012 U.S. presidential candidates will begin.

Mazour said protesters in the Middle East inspired her to be relentless in seeking changes from her own government.

“Every time they try to shut us up, we are just going to get louder, and if we get louder it is going to finally hit their minds that this is important to people,” she said.

The Occupy movement has no specific platform, but many protesters here in the United States say they want more employment opportunities, more equal distribution of income, as well as reducing the influence of wealth in politics, which are similar demands than in the Middle East.

Zaid Jelani has been closely following the uprisings around the world as an activist blogger for the Washington-based organization Think Progress.

“The best thing you can say about 2011 is that it has really been a global democratic uprising. It is a matter of people everywhere across the world saying that their leadership is not really working for them, their society is not working for them, that their lives are falling apart, because the economy is poor. People are saying that the way we get this done is by going out in the streets, by actually having an outpouring of grassroots democracy, of citizen action, civil and political disobedience and sort of using that and going beyond the ballot box to get those needs addressed,” said Jelani.

Protesters say even if outdoor camps are being shut down and they face repeated security crackdowns, their current social-media fueled struggle for enhancing human rights is long, and that it will extend beyond this year.



You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More