Thursday 13 October 2011

From the US Embassy, Damascus

On their Facebook page:

A Note from Facebook moderator Leslie Ordeman

We recently put up an article about the Occupy Wall Street protests in the USA -- there is lots of news about it on Syrian television stations.

For sure there is a lot of unhappiness in America about the economic situation. Unemployment is relatively high - nine percent. Housing prices keep falling, hurting more families. There is much debate between the two main American political parties about how to fix the U.S. economy.

We don't know exactly what will happen next. What we do know is:

* the US will have national elections in November 2012 that are not under the control of the American intelligence establishment but rather an independent election authority not controlled by the President or Congress;

* the Occupy Wall Street organizers will be entirely free to run as election candidates or to organize to support candidates;

* Occupy Wall Street groups will not be allowed to destroy public or private property, but they can organize more protests in other cities and they can say whatever they want about the U.S. government without being arrested or shot;

* the police will not shoot thousands of protesters;

* some Occupy Wall Street organizers have been arrested for disturbing public order (blocking traffic) but they won't be tortured, and no family will receive the body of a protester bearing torture marks.

* the international media and NGOs are watching and reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests without interference from the government;

* the Occupy Wall Street organizers will be free to talk to any American or foreigner who wants to talk to them without fear of arrest;

* the U.S. government may complain that some countries' currency policies are hurting the U.S. economy, but the US government will not tell the world that there is a vague foreign conspiracy for which it lacks any specifics or evidence but that it says is encouraging the Occupy Wall Street or other protest movements.

Something to think about…

Speaking as someone of a relatively conservative political out-look, I am rarely sympathetic to public protests, especially when they appear to be directed to changing policies already decided on through a democratic process. This said, I find myself sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement. So far, rather than be directed against specific government policy, they appear to directed against issues that policy has failed to address. The parallel is, to my way of thinking, to the UK Uncut protests against corporations failing to pay their UK taxes (something the majority of us might not have heard of otherwise), rather than to last year's tuition fee demonstrations in London.

The grown up way in which these demonstrations have been handled so far, the lack of violence and the spreading of vague lies about a foreign plot - these are things countries other than Syria could also learn from.