Monday, December 19, 2011

Arab World: Thank You Mohamed Bouazizi! Thank You Sidi Bouzid!

Citizens around the world today commemorate the first anniversary of the Arab revolution, sparked by the self-immolation of fruit and vegetable vendor Mohammed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.

What started as a one-man protest for dignity ignited the Arab world and beyond with a revolutionary fire, that is still raging and yet to be extinguished despite the attempts of dictators and their supporters. Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17 and died on January 4.

Millions of Arabs have since risen across the region, calling for wide ranging political, legislative, social and economic reforms. Once quashed by their dictatorships, people upped their demands, calling for a change in the regime. Zeine Al Abedeen Ben Ali of Tunisia was the first to fall in January; followed by Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in February; and then Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was toppled and killed in October.

The fall of those three dictators are milestones in this protest movement, started on December 17, 2010, and dubbed by the Western media as the Arab Spring. But the Arab revolutions are far from over.

Today Citizens pay tribute to Mohamed Bouazizi, whose action snowballed, putting Arab people, their needs and aspirations at the forefront of political debate around the world. As I write this, protesters are continuing to be killed, persecuted and attacked across the region, with token gestures from world powers calling on dictatorships to show restraint in their treatment of demonstrators.

Thousands of people have since lost their lives, and tens of thousands more have been injured and maimed. Many of the protest movements are showing no sign of slowing down, and dictators, who refuse to face the destiny of Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi and their clans, are showing no signs of giving in