#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: How revolutions happen: From Iran to Egypt

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How revolutions happen: From Iran to Egypt

IRAN: 1979, 448 days long with 3,000 plus deaths. Goal was to overthrow the Shah. Revolution started by Democrats but Islamists took over. Goal achieved.

1989: Tiananmen. 51 days and an estimated 3,000 deaths. Goal was to establish democracy, abolish one-party rule and put an end to corruption. Goal not achieved. 






1998:  Indonesia. Ten days and an estimated one thousand deaths. Goal was to overthrow the oppressive regime of Suharto and abolish political cronyism. Goal achieved. 






2004: Ukraine. 37 days and zero deaths. Goal was to annul a falsified election, ensure a new vote and put an end to corruption and censorship. Goal partially achieved.


2010: Tunisia. 30 days and 147 deaths. Goal: To overthrow the corrupt and unpopular regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Goal achieved.

EGYPT 2011


 2011: Egypt. 18 days and an  estimated 300 deaths. Goal was to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and about free democratic elections. Goal partially achieved.

Revolutions can be short and bloody, or slow and peaceful. Each is different, though there are recurring patterns - including some that were on show in Egypt.

Trotsky once remarked that if poverty was the cause of revolutions, there would be revolutions all the time because most people in the world were poor. What is needed to turn a million people's grumbling discontent into a crowd on the streets is a spark to electrify them.

Violent death has been the most common catalyst for radicalising discontent in the revolutions of the last 30 years. Sometimes the spark is grisly, like the mass incineration of hundreds in an Iranian cinema in 1978 blamed on the Shah's secret police. 

Sometimes the desperate act of a single suicidally inflammatory protester like vegetable salesman Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia, in December 2010, catches the imagination of a country.

Even rumours of brutality, such as the claims the Communist secret police had beaten two students to death in Prague in November, 1989, can fire up a public already deeply disillusioned with the system. Reports that Milosevic had had his predecessor, Ivan Stambolic, "disappeared" in the weeks before the Yugoslav presidential elections in 2000 helped to crystallise Serbian rejection of his regime.

Chinese template
Death - though in this case non-violent - also played a role in China in April 1989, when students in Beijing hijacked the officially-sponsored mourning for the former Communist leader, Hu Yaobang, to occupy Tiananmen Square and protest against the Party's corruption and dictatorship.

But although the Chinese crisis set the template for how to stage protests and occupy symbolic city-centre squares, it also was the most obvious failure of "People Power".

Unlike other elderly dictators, Deng Xiaoping showed energy and skill in striking back at the protesters. His regime had made a billion Chinese peasants better off. They were the soldiers sent to shoot down the crowds.

Protests against Suharto's "re-election" in Indonesia in March 1998, culminated in the shooting of four students in May, which set off a round of bigger demonstrations and more violence until more than 1,000 were dead. 

Thirty years earlier Suharto could kill hundreds of thousands with impunity. But corruption and the Asian economic crisis had imploded support for his regime. After 32 years in power, his family and their cronies were too rich, while too many former backers were getting poorer - a poverty they shared with ordinary people.

What collapses a regime is when insiders turn against it. So long as police, army and senior officials think they have more to lose by revolution than by defending a regime, then even mass protests can be defied and crushed. Remember Tiananmen Square.

But if insiders and the men with guns begin to question the wisdom of backing a regime - or can be bought off - then it implodes quickly.
Tunisia's Ben Ali decided to flee when his generals told him they would not shoot into the crowds. In Romania, in December, 1989, Ceausescu lived to see the general he relied on to crush the protesters become his chief judge at his trial on Christmas Day.

External pressure plays a role in completing regime-change. In 1989, the refusal of the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to use the Red Army to back East European Communists facing protests in the streets made the local generals realise that force was not an option.

The United States has repeatedly pressed its authoritarian allies to compromise and then, once they have started on that slippery slope, to resign.

Longevity of a regime, and especially the old age of a ruler, can result in a fatal incapacity to react to events quickly.

Revolutions are 24-hour-a day events - they require stamina and quick thinking from both protesters and dictators. An elderly inflexible but ailing leader contributes to the crisis. 

From the cancer-stricken Shah of Iran via the ailing Honecker in East Germany to Indonesia's Suharto, decades in power had encouraged a political sclerosis which made nimble political manoeuvres impossible. As Egypt reminds, revolutions are made by the young.

Graceful exits are rare in revolutions, but the offer of secure retirement can speed up and smooth the change.

In 2003, Georgia's Shevardnadze was denounced by some as a "Ceausescu" but he was let alone in his villa after he resigned. Suharto's generals had ensured he retired to die in peace a decade later - but his son "Tommy" was imprisoned.

Often there is a hunger among people to punish the fallen rulers. Their successors, too, find retribution against the old leader can be a useful distraction from the economic and social problems, which don't disappear with the change of regime. 

Other revolutions worth noting

  • East Germany: Sept - Nov 1989
  • Russia: 19-21 Aug 1991
  • Serbia: Sep - Oct 2000
  • Georgia: 2-23 Nov 2003
  • Lebanon: Feb - Apr 2005
  • Iran: Jun - Aug 2009
  • Tunisia: 17 Dec 2010 - 14 Jan 2011
  • Egypt: 25 Jan - 11 Feb 2011


mark manning said...

I think the time is fast approaching where all Fijians can safely gather in Suva and just protest peacefully, perhaps in prayer and song, for a return to Democracy.
I doubt very much that the military would respond with force, as they too , along with their families, are all suffering now, along with the rest of the Community.
I'm sure that they also can see the futility of this coup and the fact that they have been tricked and used, just to keep Frank out of prison and to get a moslem indian into a position of wealth and power, at the expense of all Fijians.
The fact that the Chinese Businessmen, don't have to go through a waiting period when applying for land use, can avoid taxes which others have to pay and don't have to have a local owning or partnering in their business, the fact that the $300,000,000 borrowed by the regime is not from the Chinese Banks but organised crime, are all important and compelling reasons for the Soldiers of the RFMF to do the right thing and finally start doing what they were sworn to do, PROTECT their CITIZENS !

Anonymous said...

the author of this article forgot one more successful revolution ... against the corrupt and racist Qarase government which occurred in Fiji in 2006 ... result partially successful; will be fully successful by end of 2014

Anonymous said...

you guys just dont get it do you....the reason that these templates wont work for Fiji is that there is not widespread discontent amongst the people. The discontent is in your own minds.

People arent starving, most of the i taukei can always go to the koro, the indians leave to go to greener pastures. The regime, despite all of its faults seems to be doing a resonable job. tourists continue to flood in...so life goes on.

the discontent is in the minds of those who have been displaced fromtheir privileged positions in the corrupt qarase government (albeit an elected one). These poeple are trying to whip up sentiment in fiji by citing examples of revolution past and present.

The fact of the matter is simple - people in fiji will wait till 2014. if the current regime does not keep its word and hold elections, then things might "heat up". In the meantime it will be business as usualin Fiji.

Right now Fiji is still a way better place to live and work than most of its pacific forum neighbours - thats the simple fact!

Anonymous said...

The history books will record a passive response by a people who for too long have not taken charge of anything.There is an inbred culture of acceptance and the good Lord will fix.Well guys there are some things you just have to get up off your backsides and fight for.I understand if overthrowing this illegal junta is not worth the fight for most of you.Go back to all talk and the kava bowl and enjoy.:)

Anonymous said...

Look North Policy: China now trying to clamp down on the Jasmine Revolution.
I bet Vuaka will try and do the same here.
Vuaka is now very scared. He is trying to sort out which one in his Military Council has the " i selekava".

Jake said...

The people of Fiji should drink more kava

Only the names differ... said...

1 year 2 years 20 years 40 years?
Only the numerals differ - only certainty is every regime has a used by date - one dictators cannot predict - extreme example being Hitler's 1000 year forecast.

Fiji Rise Up said...

Anon@11.51 ... a revolution is when the people overthrow the rulers, hello? - not when military overthrows government. PS this shabby campaign is not successful, we aren't at 2014 yet, bro ... many a fine day yet to bring down VB and SK.

Anonymous said...

Fijians are lazy, cowardly and pompous; witness this very site, for ever on about other people's revolutions. Not their own.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous8:30 I'm sorry sir that you feel this way about Fijians.(I assume you are talking about the illegally labelled "i taukei") With due respect to the Fijians, most of these revolutions happening in the world has taken about 30 years in the making.
In Fiji it's been only 4 years.
Most Fijians can see what is happening here. Slowly more and more are praying to God asking for help.
God is answering their prayers. The Army is imploding.
Personally I'm praying that the Army will completely self-destruct.
God has answered my prayer.
I can see Voreqe manouvering, but he has now manouvred himself into a corner. He will do a few more moves and he will completely checkmate himself. I'm already celebrating. The end is nigh!
Of course we still have to play our part (whatever that may be; whether it is protesting or blogging or talking to soldiers individually etc etc).
But I'm just happy that Voreqe is already getting a taste of his own medicine from Aziz and Aiyaz. (even though I don't like that fact that they have swindled a LOT of taxpayers money).
Anyway, Keep fighting my brothers and keep blogging C4.5. You are doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

Why should we Fijians go back to drinking kava, we never left. So we are lazy, cowardly and pompous, so what? Whats your propblem? It is our life, has always been and will continue to be. So leave us alone to our kava, our laziness, and pompousness. Let VB do his thing. Let the soldiers do their thing. Let the muslims and the hindus and the catholics and the chinese do their thing. Thats their problem. We Fijians do not care. just get us some kava and we'll be right. We just yarn about it at the tanoa, who cares? Let everybody and anybody do their thing, who cares. We don't. If you do care, who cares? Its your propblem, you deal with it. Who cares. HA

Anonymous said...

Mark i am now sure that you are a white or Pink men or whatever living in Australia. Generally i find your comments constructive and logical. I do have a problem with your racial and obvious stressing of the fact that Aiyaz is a Muslim. It is quite obvious that you have a problem with Muslims and perhaps not so much with Aiyaz. So lets put the facts straight here. Yes Aiyaz happens to be a Muslim by name. What he is doing is certainly not Islamic and has no reflection on the rest of the Muslim community in Fiji. So far all that has been done is people making allegations of corruption etc etc nothing has been proven yet. Mahendra Chaudhary has AUD$2m sitting in your banks which have been proven to be corrupted funds and no one refers to him as a Hindu Indian. No one refers to Frank as Catholic Fijian, no one refers to Qarase as Methodist Fijian. Race and religion has nothing to do with it, people are people and those who are bad will be bad. End of story. Fiji Muslims have been generally out of Politics with the exception of Sadiq Koya. We love our country just as the I-TAUKEI do and want it to be a progressive prosperous and democratic state. Our numbers are small but we contribute to this society in many ways. We have some of the largest schools operating in Fiji with people of all beliefs studying and co existing together. We own business employ people and are generally good citizens of this country. You are sitting in Australia and just by picking your words slanderously you are painting all Muslims in Fiji with the same brush. Stop this BS. In fact I have been reading your comments for a while and you deliberately use the word Muslim with contemptuous intent and I for one take offence to this. The editor of this site should seriously look at the content of some of the comments. Are you promoting healthy debate about getting Fiji to a truly democratic state or is this a charade disguised as a forum for racist bigots and neo nationalists Fiji for i-taukei crap that we have been hearing on and off since independence.

mark manning said...

@ anon 419 PM
it would be great if you could use your real identity here, but I understand the possible ramifications, assuming your anti coup, and so will make allowances !
It's because I live out of Fiji and am not Fijian, that I can push the boundaries and am not restricted to Traditional and Cultural sensitivities.
And so i choose to do so.

On the matter of Radical Islamist and their hidden at times and well known at others, agendas, yes I do object to their insistence all the time that they are right and that other Communities should bow to their expectations.

It is my personal belief that some within the Moslem Community, all over the World, are determined to set up an islamic State and Fiji seems to be an easy target, and it seems that this goal is achievable and on the verge of being realised in Fiji.

Frank, though Catholic, is a madman, Aiyaz is an egotist, Mr. Qarase, to date, has not been proven to be corrupt and Mr. Chaudhry, well, he's history so far as Fiji Politics go.

But overall, it is my belief that the people who are behind this coup are Moslems !
So what else should I say, if indeed this is my belief ?

Anonymous said...

Belief or assumption,Mark? Until you have met Aiyaz in person and know the man yourself what prooof really, do you have? Have you met Aziz? Did you know his mother and sister are christians? So lame.

Anonymous said...

Mark. Yes i am against any coup any where in the world. The Military has no place in civil society and historically soldiers have done more harm then good all over the world. Since you live in Australia and obviously have no real clue about the ground reality of life in Fiji maybe you should reserve your comments to yourself as some of the more sensitive things you say have very little basis to them. I am a non practicing Muslim but a Muslim none the less. I absolutely abhor the version of Islam that supports violence, Jihad etc etc and would like to see countries like Fiji remain free of this. Agreed that some Muslims are trying to impose their Islamic Agenda in other countries but in Fiji their are barley 50,000 of us in a population base of just under a 1m. Don't you think Aiyaz will find it kind of difficult to establish an Islamic state where over 95% of the population are either Christian or Hindu. This is a no brainer Mark and i still think your comments in this regards are reflective of your paranoid and delusional fear of Muslims in general. Muslims are not behind this coup. A few Indo Fijian's who PRACTISE the religion of Islam are behind this coup. I am a Muslim dont you thinks if we were all behind this i would be dripping with money and yet i am struggling to put food on the table. Come on Mark. People are people their are bad Christains, bad Hindus and bad Muslims, that is just the way the world is. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

We're fighting the same fight here and the common enemy is the egomaniacs Bai and Aiyarse. We should all unite and direct our effort towards ousting these criminals who are robbing the nation of its Finances as well as its freedom. Neither of them is very religious unless you count worshipping money a religion. Anon 12:19 is right, there's no way Fiji is going to turn into a Muslim country, the religous makeup of the population won't allow it so lets get back to focusing on the problem at hand which is removing the criminals who have taken over our country.

Anonymous said...

Well said @ Anon 12:19PM!!