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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs