Nothing new under the sun
Some dictators may have fallen, but human-rights abuses continue
May 12th 2011 | OSLO | from the print edition
Tunisian plainclothes back in action突尼斯的便衣又开始行动了
THE world really can become a better place—that seemed to be the belief of the protesters who have thronged streets in the Middle East. Sadly, those who spoke this week at the Oslo Freedom Forum,a glittering gathering of veterans of human-rights struggles, instead attested to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done.”
Take the impact of technology. Facebook and other social media services have created opportunities for dissidents and revolutionaries to organise and voice their opposition. But those in power have discovered that they, too, can use the internet, in their case to stifle freedom of speech. The dream of all dictators is to know as much about you as Google does, says Jacob Mchangama, a Danish human-rights lawyer.
Authoritarian states have also learned how to use the language of human rights to legitimise their oppressive tactics, for instance by claiming to defend religious groups. But their tools of abuse—violence, torture and censorship—remain depressingly familiar. The grand tradition of making opponents “disappear,” perfected by the military dictatorship in Argentina in the 1970s, is still flourishing today. In Bahrain doctors and nurses who treated protesters injured by security forces have vanished. Also in Bahrain, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the former head of the Centre for Human Rights and a fierce critic of the regime, was seized by armed men in the middle of the night. A month later he reappeared, tortured and is now facing trial.
独裁国家也已经学会了如何以人权之名使其镇压策略合法化,比如声称捍卫宗教团体。但是他们的工具依旧是我们熟悉的、令人沮丧的暴力、折磨及审查制度。20世纪70年代阿根廷的军事独裁统治将“使对手‘消失’”这一重要传统得以完善,如今它依旧盛行。在巴林岛，已经没有医生和护士为被安全部队打伤的示威者治疗了。也是在巴林,昔日人权中心的领导人、该制度的猛烈抨击者 Abdulhadi al-Khawaja,在一个深夜被武装的人抓走。一个月之后,受过虐待的他再度出现,目前正面临审判。
Post-revolutionary leaders can find it all too easy to slip into the abusive habits of their predecessors. In Oslo Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian blogger, talked of her fear that the transitional government will use the methods of the ousted regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. When fresh demonstrations broke out in Tunisia in early May, police used tear gas and live ammunition. Journalists were beaten and had their equipment seized.
革命后的领导人觉得太容易像他们的前任一样滥用权力了。一位突尼斯籍的博主Lina Ben Mhenni在奥斯陆谈到，她担心过渡政府将使用被赶下台的扎因·阿比丁·本·阿里政权的手段。新的示威游行五月初在突尼斯爆发时,警察使用了催泪瓦斯和实弹。新闻记者遭到毒打,他们的设备也被扣押。
Nor do governments have a monopoly on violence. From Jamaica to South Africa, gays and lesbians continue to be the victims of vicious intolerance. Lesbians are raped in an effort to "correct" their sexuality. At the Oslo conference the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, the first group of its kind on the Caribbean island, said it was remarkable that only one of its founders had been murdered in the past decade, such is the violence typically directed at its people.
Yet there was also brighter news in Oslo. As those in power become more inventive in their clampdowns, so do their opponents. Some have started to help victims make their experiences public. In Malawi children who have been raped or forced into marriage are encouraged to write letters to Radio Timweni, a national news programme, which then interviews them. In the age of Facebook and Google, the truth remains the most powerful weapon of all.