Mammoth Step in Democratization [Archives:2001/20/Focus]
Dr. Ali H. Alyami
The elevation of the human rights post to a ministerial level and the appointment of Dr. Wahibah Far’e to that post is a mammoth step in the right direction. This is another indication that the Yemeni government is responsive enough to listen to its people’s calls, to respond to their needs and to protect their rights from abuse normally committed by governmental institutions and individuals.
As I have stated in an earlier article, by continuing its democratization process, Yemen is leading the way, especially in the Arabian Peninsula where governments’ grip on and control over every aspect of human lives are among the worst in the world today. The Yemenis’ courage to take such a giant stride speaks for itself, regardless of its critics’ interpretations and accusations.
Moves like this will be harshly criticized and severely resisted from within Yemen as well as from without. From within, there are those who will say it’s a government plot to sell itself to the West. It’s a Western invasion of their domains, or they may go as far as saying it’s anti-Islamic. This indicates a self-inflicted feeling of inferiority because it implies that only the Western nations can protect the rights of their citizens. There are also those who will be hired by outsiders to disrupt political progress in Yemen. These critics and hired hands could serve their country best if they rally behind and support the new minister instead of wasting their time trying to figure out the President’s motive for creating a much needed and sensitive post and appointing an educated woman, in a male dominated society, to formulate and execute its formidable duties.
Dangerous critics to watch for are those from outside of Yemen. Yemen is surrounded by hard core wealthy dictators whose existence is totally incompatible with any form of democratization. Those antiquated regimes will always be threatened by any political, social and economic freedoms, especially when such progressive values are being initiated and practiced near their borders. Consequently, they will do whatever they can to impede any democratic steps taken by the Yemeni government and people. They will apply financial and military pressures as well as mount social and religious propaganda to distract the Yemenis from moving their nation forward to join the civilized world.
The enemies of democracy on the borders of Yemen have had a lot of experience in this field. When the Yemenis decided to rid themselves of one of the most backward and brutal royal families, the house of Hameed Aldeen, and take charge of their own destiny in 1962, the undemocratic neighbors employed their military and financial might to keep Yemen under the yoke of a regime that shares their totalitarian values. The Yemeni government and people prevented them from succeeding and will do the same this time as well. The road won’t be easy, but it is the only road that will carry Yemen to a prosperous future.
Finally, it’s incumbent on those of us who have come to enjoy the fruits of democratic values in the US or anywhere in the world to rally support for the Yemenis and for their efforts to build a democracy where the rights of all Yemenis can be protected.