Welcome to Siberian Light for the second weekly Carnival of the Revolutions, where we aim to give you a sampling of how democracy is marching forwards (and sometimes backwards) in the world today.
- But before we move on to discuss democracy and opposition movements around the world, spare a thought for the people who are the furthest away from freedom – the world’s 12 million slaves.
- Protests in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon (Andizhon) led to a violent crackdown by government forces in which hundreds are feared dead. The government claims that the protesters are Islamic fundamentalists, but it is far from clear that this is the case. For up to date reports on this breaking story check out registan.net, Ben Paarmann, Scraps of Moscow and, for news from a Peace Corps volunteer based in Andijon itself, Wanderlustress.
- Neeka’s Backlog reveals that Ferghana.ru, the website that is for many the primary source of news from Uzbekistan is run by just three people.
- Danwei reports that Chinese bloggers are being forced to register with the government. The websites of bloggers who don’t provide their full name, ID number and home address face closure.
- The Acorn notes that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Sri Lanka has brought a new dimension to the war there, and is complicating the chances of a settlement between Tamil Tigers and the government.
- Anti-government protesters in Pakistan have taken the unusual approach of protesting in the river.
- Pro-independence parties in Taiwan narrowly won this week’s election, delivering a rebuff to China’s heavy handed attempts at intimidation.
- Iranian Presidential candidate Dr Mostafa Moeen met this week with a group of Iranian bloggers. Global Voices Online has a roundup, while Adventures of Mr Behi has an in-depth report.
- In a demonstration of their growing confidence, hundreds of Iranian bloggers have renamed their blogs after pro-reformist newspapers, in a protest against censorship.
- Two disparate candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the upcoming Iranian Presidential elections. Hardliner Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hooshang Amirahmadi, a US citizen and current President of the American-Iranian council.
- Worried about low turnout, Ayatollah Khamenei has declared that voting is a "religious duty."
- Will Franklin observes that, for women seeking the right to vote, in Kuwait it’s one step forward, two steps back.
- Bernard Lewis has a new article in Foreign Affairs: Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East. Lewis is probably one of the finest scholars in his field, so well worth reading.
- Michael Signer at Democracy Arsenal wonders whether it’s time to bury our pride and consider a confederal solution for Iraq.
- Tim Blair notes an official UN report which sets the number of civilian casualties since the invasion of Iraq at 24,000. This is still high, but it’s far lower than the 100,000 that the controversial Lancet report claimed. The UN report, which is based on a survey of more than 20,000 households, also reported an unemployment rate of 10.5% – similar to France’s.
- Sunday’s Ethiopian election is expected to return the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front for a third term. Opposition groups claim that the election will not be fair, and claim that hundreds of election monitors have been threatened with arrest.
- Whether the Ethiopian election is fair or not, they are leading the world on one front – this election is probably the first in the world where citizens may vote by text message from their mobile phones.
- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faces competition for the first time in a long time, after parliament passed legislation allowing multi-candidate Presidential elections. Regulations on who may be nominated are tight, however, ad the election is likely to remain a one man show in practice.
- More positively, Egyptian judges have made a stand against the government, claiming that they will no longer bear "false witness" to elections. Unless they are given complete supervisory powers over upcoming elections, they will boycott them. The Arabist Network has more on this story.
- Bankelele assesses the state of Kenya’s media.
- The Zimbabwean Pundit reports on how farmers who have lost property as a result of Mugabe’s reforms are taking advantage of an international treaty to take their case to international arbitration.
- Babalu blog reports that Cuban opposition groups are going to attempt to hold a meeting in Havana on Independence Day (May 20th).
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced the launch of a pan-Latin American television network. Despite government denials, observers are concerned that the station will become a mouthpiece for Chavez’s left-wing views.
- Celebrations in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day sparked off a major debate over the rights and wrongs of Yalta. In Latvia, President Bush put forward his view that the decision to "sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left [Europe] divided and unstable." Russia’s President Putin, meanwhile, spent his time desperately trying to disprove accusations that he was glorifying Stalin and pushing Russia back towards authoritarianism.
- In a crowded field of posts about the implications of Yalta and VE Day, I particularly enjoyed reading are Joe Katzman’s analysis at Winds of Change, Minh Duc’s post From Yalta to Paris and Arthur Chrenkoff’s One War, Two Legacies, which contrasts the attitudes of Germany and Russia to the conflict and its resolution. But if those aren’t enough for you, check out Publius Pundit, which has a huge selection of links to other posts.
- US President George W Bush met with a rapturous reception in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgian President Saakashvili thanked Bush for standing by them during the Rose Revolution.
- Democracy Guy explains how difficult it can sometimes be to use other nationalities as examples of democratic revolutions.
- Support for the introduction of proportional representation in the UK is growing after Labour won a substantial overall majority with just over a third of the national vote.
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope I’ve given you plenty of stories to think over. Some to be glad about, some to be mad about.
The Carnival of the Revolutions currently rotates between five blogs, and next Monday, it’ll be upping sticks and moving to WILLisms. As always, if you’ve read or writtensomething you’d like to see reaching a wider audience, please let us know about it – we read widely, be we can’t see everything.
Finally, the Carnival of the Revolutions is always looking for the next place to set up camp, so if you are interested in hosting the Carnival please drop Will an email and he’ll allocate you a slot on the calendar.