Pandemic of Persecution – Political Prisoners are filling up the world’s jails (once again)

Saturday, 10 December 2022 will go down as the day that Morocco beat Portugal in the quarterfinals at Qatar 2022, making them the first country in Africa and the first Arab nation to reach the World Cup semifinals. In the spectacle and excitement that has accompanied the tournament, the fact that 10 December is (also) International Human Rights Day was lost.
This aspect of the day’s identity passed over and garnered little reflection or comment.
Perhaps it’s understandable? For the media images of joy and human excellence are a convenient antidote, albeit temporary, to the rights-less, dangerous and despairing situation that millions of people face in their daily lives.
But the truth is that in these times, human rights and human rights activists need more time and more recognition – not less. Even during a World Cup. Instead the opposite has happened. After a promising start, human rights issues surrounding the World Cup have been systematically filtered out of the picture.
Who cares about women, queers and migrants when there’s a game on?
It is a further sign of the new times that unlike 30 years ago, when in South Africa and across the world, a tornado of revolutions seeking human rights helped to empty many prisons, the exact reverse is now happening. In many countries the jails are filling up again, and there is very little concerted effort and condemnation to stop it.
This is in part linked to the rapid erosion of another supposed-to-be universal human right: the right to peaceful protest. More and more people are ending up in prisons just because they are trying to protest against the conditions in which they live.
This truth was documented in an important Global Assessment on Protest Rights released by Civicus last week. It shows that of the 131 countries where protests were recorded in the past year, protestors were detained in at least 92.
In view of this, although they can’t hear us from their dungeons, Maverick Citizen thinks it’s important to name some of the people and groups of people who no longer have the “privilege” of gathering with friends and family for a global celebration such as the World Cup.
We think of media owner and activist Jimmy Lai, imprisoned again last week, and the hundreds of other pro-democracy defenders in Hong Kong and across mainland China.
We think of veteran Zimbabwean activist and MP Job Zikhala at Chikurubi prison in Harare (read his son’s letter ...
13 Dec 2022 3AM English South Africa News · Daily News

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