The return of the police state

The return of the police state
4 min read
28 Apr, 2015
Comment: We are once again caught in a trap of repression and fear as the gains of the Arab spring are slowly eroded by reinvigorated tyrants, says Lamis Andoni.
We are required to give thanks to tyrants for simnply still being alive
Days and months after the start of the Arab uprisings, many Arabs felt the stranglehold of intelligence agencies and secret police had been released, and that the agencies themselves had been freed from the grip of authoritarian regimes.

But today, we find ourselves caught once again in a trap of repression and fear, and feel that the secret police all around has become more arrogant and more disregarding for people's rights and lives than ever before.

Arab intelligence agencies, and the regimes behind them, are behaving in a cowardly triumphalist manner. Such as the state of the counter-revolutionary forces, both in the countries that witnessed uprisings and those that did not, drawing strength from international support provided under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

For a brief period of time, we lived a dream, but we have since been awoken by a nightmare. The secret police services and those behind them have made a vengeful comeback, and are seeking to re-establish fear and compliance. They have returned to their tactics of intimidation and threats to kill hope, and spread despair and frustration.

Yet the issue goes beyond stifling people, albeit the crackdown on the freedom of expression is a key instrument for imposing obedience. The issue is also about preventing people from demanding their rights.

For the regimes, there can be no rights for workers and poor people, and no social, political or judicial justice, because there is no recognition of the existence of citizens or indeed citizenship to begin with.
     To the secret police, brutality is essential to purge the slogans championed by the revolutions

To the secret police, brutality is essential to purge the slogans championed by the revolutions, not only from public squares but from memory itself. Only fear and loyalty are permitted to remain. Indeed, we are required to give thanks to tyrants for simnply still being alive.

To explain this, one may cite the absence of a strategy to bring about change among the leaders of the uprisings, which helped the old regimes return in new forms and names.

However, there is another factor that was not taken into account when the uprisings started, namely, the emergence of the Islamic State group, known as Daesh, and its ilk. These groups have sought and succeeded in some degree to hijack the voices of the revolutionaries.

I do not want to go into conspiracy theories, but there is a drive by the counter-revolutionaries to take advantage of events to re-impose their authority.

True, the phenomenon of Daesh and extremism in religious guise has socio-political roots, but these have become the most important source of legitimacy for the counter-revolutions. In this context, it is hard to believe such groups are not receiving support to bury the revolutions.

The so-called "war on terror" now serves to justify almost anything, from restrictions on the freedom of expression, to enacting draconian anti-terrorism laws that give cover to wholesale arrest, torture, and fabrication of charges.

Any word or deed by an Arab citizen is a potential charge, which could take the label of anything from threatening the security of the regime to terrorism, according to the whims of whichever party ordered the citizen's arrest.

In Tunisia, restrictions on journalists have become an ordinary affair, sometimes with legal justification. This is only the beginning of the consequences of the counter-revolutions.
     Rights are not only being trampled, but also abolished

In Egypt, the heavy-handedness of the counter-revolution has gone completely out of bounds. One of the biggest victims is the country's justice system, which is openly colluding with the regime in enacting repressive laws and filling dungeons with prisoners.

Rights are not only being trampled, but also abolished, as well as the principles of the judiciary and the consciences of the judges.

In Jordan, where a protest movement was quickly suppressed, a word on Facebook whenever the authorities decide can be reason enough to arrest someone or produce major charges against them under an anti-terrorism law that has little regard for evidence or rights.

The same applies in varying degrees to all regimes, all with US blessing. Indeed, a majority of regimes and elites believe their legitimacy stems from Washington, and do not care about what the people want. The people do not exist, as long as their voices are stifled.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.