When you are sitting safe with your laptop in one of the world’s most peaceful countries and write about freedom from laws banning smoking indoors, state monopoly on sale of wine and regulations in the agriculture, you become more than humble by the thought of the heroes coming to Oslo as we speak – from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes all over the world, to tell about their struggle for freedom.
Take a look at the list of who attended Oslo Freedom Forum as speakers the 3 first years it was happening, and who’s attending this year. Then think about how it would be if it was the state-leaders responsible for oppression who attended this conference. Would protesters gather in the streets of Oslo, and media report on protests from people and organisations? Don’t think so. Strange, thinking of the kind of chaos that erupts over the G8-meetings and other international meetings at the same level.
If those responsible of oppression came to Oslo
Let’s take a look at the horror show it would be if it was the state-leaders who came to Oslo; those responsible of suppression and not the oppressed and individuals representing the opposition:
Vladimir Putin of Russia is inaugurated monday as president for a new term, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, king Mohammd VI of Morocco, king Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah of Bahrain, king Abdullah of Saudi-Arabia, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Hun Sen of Cambodia, Michel Martelli of Haiti, Baburam Bhattarai of Nepal, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Ekvatorial-Guinea, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Tony Tan Keng Yam of Singapore.
If he actually came the Norwegian government could make use of the international order of arrest against the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir.
Some dictators have gone since last year, without “democratic” is the first characteristic that comes to mind when thinking about the new people in power; Al-Munsif al-Marzuqi is the interim President of Tunisia, the first country in The Arab spring to depose of it’s longterm-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But Tunisia too has a long way to go before the country will have rule of law and freedom of speech. Mustafa Abd al-Jalil is the Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, as Muammar al-Gadhafi was killed by the freedom fighters last year.
One of last year’s Nobel Peace Price laureates, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, would have to attend such a meeting of state leaders. The reason is that Charles Taylor is no longer president of Liberia. The evil nemesis of Kosovo, Slobodan Milosevic luckily cannot attend as representative of Serbia (nor Rest-Jugoslavia). President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono maybe Indonesia maybe would have attended. Many years have passed since the dictator Suharto was toppled, but it hasn’t helped the “hidden colony” of Indonesia; West-Papua.
You might “miss” many familiar faces among the dictators of the world, and that list is long. To confirm, take a look at The Economist’ index over more or less authoritarian regimes and pure dictatorships.
“A cause greater than themselves”
was the characteristic an actor gave of the Norwegian Maoist party (AKP) was fighting for in the 1970’s. On their list of “good causes” was the dictatorship of the proletariat, defending the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia (despite the genocide taking place because of his rule).
The characteristic “a cause greater than themselves” is better used on the many that during the years attended as speakers at Oslo Freedom Forum. A total of 121 attenders from 71 countries. Of the 121 36 have been imprisoned for political reasons, for a total of 175 years. 23 of them was actually tortured. 20 of the speakers are currently in exile. Oslo Freedom Forum have exposed 21 dictatorships. According to the Economist-index mentioned above there are still many left to expose. A sad fact.
Most people most likely have a simple dream about freedom for themselves and their family. A dream that is about living in peace for interference in their daily life. A dream about being able to earn a living, to get an education, a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Possibly most people in addition to these basic needs are hoping to live in safety. Safety from arbitrary arrest and inprisonment. Safety for not loosing their property, liberty – or life. And freedom of speech if and when necessary. About abuse of power. Corruption.
In most of Europe and North-America you can actually live the dream about freedom. We don’t risk getting av visit from the police at work or in our home at any time. We don’t need to think about who’s listening when we are critical about the people in power or the society they have created. We don’t need to think if someone we are talking with are informers helping the government to get us inprisoned. And if we have something to complain about, we can actually do it.
Should we be satisfied with this. Should we, with our wealth, peace and liberty close our eyes, ears and mouth for the injustice in the rest of the world?
It’s a pity that Oslo Freedom Forum wasn’t taking place before the International Workers’ Day. Maybe then the people recycling old slogans and problems would discover who deserve their solidarity – in 2012.
A new Nobel Peace Prize laureate?
Last year, Leymah Gbowee of Liberia was one of three Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Seven months prior to receiving the prize she participated at Oslo Freedom Forum.
The true heroes of freedom will be in Oslo the first three days of next week. Torbjørn Jagland and the rest of the Nobel committee should pay attention. Maybe the peace price-laureate is among the participants at Oslo Freedom Forum 2012.