Friday, September 07, 2007

Day 5 Lecture - Prof. Mohiuddin Ahmad

Lecture: Human Rights and Democracy in Asia

By: Prof. Mohiuddn AhmadCo-Director, MAINS

SungKongHoe University, Seoul7 September, 2007

· Asia is big geographically and diverse

· The birth place of great religions but also the place of great religious conflict· Globalization of religion started long ago
Forms/Systems of Government:
Middle East:MonarchyRepresentative democracy
Central Asia:Transitional SystemRepresentative democracy
South Asia:Representative democracyMilitary dictatorshipMonarchyCivilian Dictatorship
Southeast Asia:Representative democracyMilitary oligarchyMonarchyMonolithic system
China:Monolithic system

Asian Democracy:

What is it?What is the lower limit?What is the upper limit?Who defines?

Socrates is one of the early martyrs of democracy

Democracy bottle-fed: Afganistan, Iraq; these two countries are being considered democracy by the West

Democracy bigot-led: Iran, Malaysia;

Democracy royal gift: Kuwait; only country in the middle east that allow women to vote and can be members of the parliament

Democracy under military boots; Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, BurmaSouth Asia;

Democracy marred by ethnic and religious conflictDemocracy with inner colony; India (Kashmir, Northeast Region); Sri Lanka (Jaffna); Russia (Chechnya); Japan (Ryukyu); Philippines (Mindanao) Indonesia (Aceh); Turkey (Kurdistan)Democracy under US Nuclear Umbrella: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

Representative Democracy:
· Law of the majority is the rule of the game

· The test of democracy is how you treat your minority and this is very important

· The minorities are culturally at risk; politically discriminated; socially outcast; and economically marginalized; this defines a context of vulnerability and powerlessness;

· Democracy, nationalism and chauvinism are synonymous; nationalism is different in many societies; nationalism is a combination of several indicators; nationalism is a tool for unifying people; citizenship is a tool in managing the state; India has 2 million soldiers, wow!!;

Democratic Governance:
· What is democracy?
Right to worko

Right to food

Right to fair price

Right to participate

Right to protest

Right to life with dignity

Freedom of movement is inalienable feature of democracy

· Poverty is vulnerability: lack of capacity to cope with exogenous conditions, conflicting values, doctrines and lifestyles imposed by others

· Governance is state centric and not people – centric

· Criminalization of representsative democracy: our lives are controlled by political parties are person-oriented. The entire process has been criminalized. Politics is a convenient tool to establish and perpetuate individual and clan interest. Third, fourth or fifth generation of family rule is legitimized through elections. Election is a big industry with high investments and even higher rate of return

· Democracy – being ruined by religious fanaticism

· Democracy being imported from the west

· Rights are violated in the pretext of national security

· Most victims are the women and the poor

· Right to franchise is not enough

· To replace one form of dominance with other is no answer

· Now we confront: No-liberal terrorism; militarism; corporate dominance;

· Globalization itself is not a folly. It as enriched the world scientifically and culturally and benefited many people economically as well· Global power brokers undermine democracy· Market economy can generate many different results depending on; how physical resources are distributed, how human resources are developed, What are “rules of game” prevail.· What is needed is a fair distribution of the fruits of globalization

· The central issues is inequality: inequality within nations; inequality between nations· Democracy means equal opportunity; poverty and democracy cannot exist together· Winning poverty is freedom to choose conditions of existence, lifestyle· Lifestyle: Who decides what and how?

· People want to come together, through a process of cooperation based on shared vision.· Process of convergence is often threatened by the state

· People are oppressed for national security, there are people movements in almost all countries

· IFIs are major violators of human rights

· Civic actions take place against the prejudicial acts of the government and multi - lateral agencies

Peoples are denied of access to basic services

· Rights to basic services are human rights

· Peoples protest against violation o human rights

· Solidarity is a strong weapon to achieve freedom

There are different languages of Protest: They are complementary to each other
Non-violence protestViolence protests

It is a long way to go………achieving a genuine and long lasting democracy

(Source: Lecture Notes of Ms. Anna Malindog)

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