It’s Not Repression when We Do It

“The government systematically repressed citizens’ ability to change their government. The security forces committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, caused politically motivated disappearances, and tortured and physically abused prisoners and detainees with impunity. Security forces arrested and detained individuals under poor conditions without due process. Lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention remained a serious problem. The judiciary was not independent. There were political prisoners and detainees, and during the year the government sentenced to prison several high-profile members of the human rights and civil society communities. The government violated citizens’ privacy rights. The government imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties: freedoms of speech and press, including Internet and academic freedom; freedoms of assembly and of association . . .”

You would be forgiven if you thought that this quote was about our post-Ruby Ridge, post-Waco, post-Oklahoma City, post-Patriot Act, post-America America. Actually this is taken from a State Department, 2010 Human Rights Report: Syria, from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices from April 8, 2011.

So the Syrians it seems are protesting against these conditions that are a result of  “emergency laws”  that they have been suffering under for almost fifty years. They have been told that due to the emergency caused by the troubles with Israel they would have to put up with secret courts, warrantless searches, secret trials and endless detention until the current crisis is over. Did I mention it was for their security? Is this ringing a familiar bell with any body? Is it going to take us fifty years of the ill-named Patriot Act before we are in the streets like the Syrians are?

What rich irony that we, the greatest Democracy in the world, publish a paper detailing the human rights abuses in Syria and it is impossible to tell that this paper is not talking about the United States but Syria.