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Friday, January 18, 2019 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

Tragedy of democracy

Winfred Peppinck

The newspapers said it all: This is “madness”.

Australia has made its seventh Prime Ministerial change in a decade, looking like a “palace coup” as yet again party leadership changed – with a sitting leader simply deposed.

A vote by Party members yet again made a mockery of a nation that prides itself on its “democracy”, often lecturing other countries on their political structures.

There are comparisons with a Shakespearean tragedy, with people being “stabbed in the back” and plotting, just as in Hamlet, Julius Caesar and Richard III.

This time there have again been many candidates for the role of Brutus, the character who stabs to death his friend and benefactor Caesar in the Shakespearean conspiracy bearing the latter’s name.

“Et Tu Bruce?” would be an appropriate line, in an Aussie, Monty Pythonesque type of way.

The media and commentators liken it to Italian fiascos involving frequent changes of prime ministers.

Meanwhile, the Australian public finds it appalling and has had a “gutfull” of politicians, as a bunch, and the “profession” in public eyes is at its lowest ebb.

To describe it as unbridled “democracy” would simply be wrong.

So I shook my head when I read of the McDonald’s style “hunger strike” being practised by Ali Mushaima, the fugitive in the UK who has been convicted in Bahrain of being part of a terrorist network.

He is calling for the release of his father Hassan, who is serving a jail sentence in Bahrain for trying to topple the government and Bahraini ruling family.

Ali has been protesting for many months outside – and at one point on top of – the Bahrain Embassy in London.

Now he claims to be on a so-called hunger strike, taking breaks for hours – for a coffee perhaps – but then returning when protesters gather.

Out come the banners.

Now Bahrain’s Ambassador to London has had enough of protesters blocking the entrance to the embassy, harassing visitors, and has asked British authorities to step in.

This, climbing Ali and the ground-dwelling protesters claim, is a denial of their “democratic rights”.

It is similar to Aussie protesters in parliament, who believe it is their “democratic right” to topple a Prime Minister just because various wings of the party have right-wing agendas – claiming they are only doing so to keep the government “on track”.

Members of both main political parties in Australia have brought claims that some of their colleagues drifted from the core party values.

Therefore, mustering supporters and taking their issues beyond the party rooms, a PM assassination effectively took place in public – using the media and, allegedly, public opinion.

It is just like the Mushaimas and the usual gatherers – Amnesty International and the various human rights fellows who ignore responses and evidence provided by Bahrain in the face of allegations.

Claims Ali is making about an alleged lack of medical care for his father in prison are simply fatuous.

As confirmed by authorities and human rights bodies in Bahrain, Hassan is booked for numerous visits to oncologists for the treatment of his cancer.

According to the embassy in London, so often he did not keep the appointments or postponed them.

Bahraini authorities make every effort to ensure claims of ill-treatment are investigated and access is provided for human rights groups, including international advocates, for prison visits and open, free discussions with inmates.

But democracy is not an absolute!

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