Monday, 31 January 2011


Guillermo Farinas
The struggle for freedom and democracy takes many forms, whether through acts of individual courage, as in totalitarian dictatorships like Communist Cuba, where Police in Cuba have again released leading dissident Guillermo Farinas after his third arrest in 48 hours. His latest arrest had come with around 10 other dissidents while laying flowers at a monument to Cuba's independence leader Jose Marti.

The BBC says that he was freed after being taken to hospital, complaining of chest pains. Guillermo Farinas gained international attention in 2010 when he came close to death after staging a 134-day hunger strike and was fed intravenously. He started his 23rd hunger strike in February 2010 in protest at the death of fellow dissident and hunger striker Orlando Zapata. This protest in July, when Cuban President Raul Castro authorised the release of 52 of the island's most prominent prisoners of conscience. The EU awarded him its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought last December, although he was prevented from leaving Cuba to collect the award.

Sometimes, freedom, democracy and liberty can be affirmed at the ballot box, as is the case in South Sudan Preliminary results show that some 99% of South Sudanese have voted to secede from the north, according to the first complete results of the region's independence referendum. Some 99.57 percent of those polled voted for independence, according to the referendum commission. Early counting had put the outcome of the ballot beyond doubt, indicating Southern Sudan had secured a mandate to become the world's newest nation. The poll was agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal to end two decades of war. The final results from the 9th-15th January vote, which Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept, are expected early next month. If the result is confirmed, the new country is set to formally declare its independence on 9th July.

And sometimes, as in Tunis people have to stand up and be counted, when it really matters as they collectively brought an end 30 years of tyranny, corruption and wasted opportunities. Hopefully, the Egyptian people we be equally as successful as the Tunisian people were last month.

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