The Citizens From Cameroon and Uganda Are Unable To Speak The Truth About Their Leaders
I had the opportunity to connect with some individuals from the African countries of Cameroon and Uganda recently and asked them some questions about their country’s leadership. My first contact from Cameroon was very engaging until I asked them what they knew about Paul Biya (which is the country’s ruling dictator). At first, my contact said they knew a lot about Paul Biya and I followed up and asked if they could possibly tell me more about Biya. My contact would often hesitate by saying “not now” or “is that necessary” and ending the conversation by telling me “if you wouldn’t mind, I don’t like talking about him.”
My second contact from Cameroon reacted almost the same way when asked about Paul Biya by stating “sorry, I don’t know nothing about my president, I don’t know nothing.” It wasn’t until a phone conversation with this contact that finally revealed the true reason behind their silence when it comes to talking about Paul Biya. This particular contact told me that they could not talk about Paul Biya out of fear of being detained and possibly killing as a result. Both of these contacts are currently living in Cameroon under the dictatorial rule of Paul Biya where speaking out publicly about his regime could cost you your life.
The information I received turned out to be true in regards to Paul Biya’s aggressive assault on dissent. I was contacted by the friend of my second Cameroonian contact who has been living in the U.S. for twenty years and they told me that indeed my second contact and every other Cameroonian faces the possibility of being killed for their outspoken opposition to Paul Biya’s rule. The friend informed me that Paul Biya has no respect for human rights, the rule of law, or providing resources for the Cameroonian people. In fact, the friend told me that many people in Cameroon have become sick or died from a lack of adequate drinking water including my contacts own parents while others have just disappeared after voicing their disapproval over the governments handling of state resources.
I also had the pleasure of talking to an individual from Uganda who had a different perspective about their country’s leadership which was either out of fear of reprisal or complete indoctrination. When I asked about long time ruling Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, my contact was quick to address him as president of their country. I told my contact that Museveni was known in the international community as a dictator who abuses human rights. Again, my contact was quick to disagree stating that they appreciate Museveni for what he has done for the country by fighting for freedom and sacrificing his life for Ugandans.
My contact from Uganda continued to shower Yoweri Museveni with praise even when I mentioned that Museveni recently had a woman arrested for insulting his wife. My contact said they did not know anything about that incident, and continued to state that through his excellency Yoweri Museveni we love people, welcome strangers, conduct trade, take in refugees, have free education, organizations, and help the poor to some extent. I asked my contact if Museveni allows freedom of speech, assembly, association, and a free press. My contact told me that every person in Uganda has freedom of speech as long as you’re not “destroying or striking” which involves vandalizing government property, conducting disorganized meetings, or encouraging people to shout and vent their frustrations in an unorganized manner which is very vague and unrelated language as to what constitutes protected free speech.
My Ugandan contact who currently lives under the dictatorial leadership of Yoweri Museveni could indeed be captivated by the world that Museveni has created in Uganda through the pacification of good deeds and government resources as a way to surpass the population into looking past state repression and believing that Museveni’s long time rule is legitimate for Uganda’s future. Another theory suggests that my contact may be concerned for their safety and rather decides to praise the Museveni regime than criticize the governments obvious failures in upholding freedom for fear of reprisal if they were to speak out against Museveni’s rule which has been highly critical of political dissent and human rights. Stemming from our conversation, I got the feeling that my contact was just telling me what they wanted me to hear instead of telling me the truth which reveals the power of a dictatorial system.
Unheard Accounts About The Venezuelan Regime Under Hugo Chavez
During my time at college, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my colleagues about late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and learn about the tactics he used to stay in power that are for the most part unaccounted for. I was at a college function attending a lecture hosted by the Terrorism Research Center and shortly after the meeting I became engaged in a conversation with one of my colleagues about where they were from. My colleague said they were from Venezuela and I asked them in a concerned manner, are you happy or sad at this point in time about the recent death of Hugo Chavez? My colleague responded with a joyful retaliation stating, “I’m glad he’s dead! He can burn in hell! I partied all night when I heard the news of his death! He had my brother killed!”
Turns out my colleagues brother was a vocal critic of Hugo Chavez and was allegedly shot to death by some of Chavez’s security forces because of his direct opposition towards the regime. On the other hand, my colleagues sisters were supporters of Chavez as one sister received one hundred dollars for getting pregnant and the other sister was given a microwave for her support. Hugo Chavez would often use his military to redistribute goods and services to his supporters in return for their vote on election day. Many of Chavez’s supporters were in the minority and remained poor by becoming dependent on the governments large entitlement program. My colleague explained to me that the majority of Venezuelans were opposed to Chavez’s government, but every time a presidential election is held Chavez always emerges as the winner. Which brought me to my next question. Why can’t Hugo Chavez be voted out of office if the majority of the country is against his policies?
My colleague informed me about a voter irregularity that Chavez used that allowed him to win while not making it look obvious enough to garner international criticism. Hugo Chavez had a very strong relationship with the Cuban regime and during Venezuela’s elections Chavez would import Cubans from Cuba who were ordered by the Cuban authorities to vote for Hugo Chavez in the election. This tactic overwhelmed the majority vote making it look like a close free and fair election for Chavez which was anything but that. This information came after the fact that my Latin American Politics professor asked the class about what we thought about the 2012 Venezuelan election in which a still living Hugo Chavez unanimously won.
I told my professor the election was probably rigged (not knowing the information my colleague would share with me in the future). My professor stated; Rigged? Really! Little did my professor know that there were people at the college and in the community who knew the truth about the corrupt dictatorial regime of Hugo Chavez and were able to provide a wealth of information and facts about the Chavez regime that most in academia fail to acknowledge or understand.
Jordanian Americans Don’t Want To Talk About King Abdullah II
I use to frequent a certain Middle Eastern restaurant in my area and got to know the owners from what I gathered until the time I asked about Jordan’s dictator King Abdullah II. The owners of the restaurant are a husband and wife duo from Jordan who claim to have lived in the United States for thirty years. I went to the restaurant to order some food and like previous times before I was making conversation with the husband who is very informative and educated about various topics. I asked the husband if he would care to discuss the topic of Jordanian politics particularly those politics concerning King Abdullah II.
With the sheer mention of King Abdullah II’s name the conversation quickly took an abrupt turn. The husband just completely shut down and his wife became very nervous and started pacing around the counter where me and the husband were talking. I told the husband that I was in the process of launching a blog that upholds human rights and exposes dictators and I was basically just trying to gather information from people who have been affected or have first hand accounts about their country of origin and the political situation there so that I could document their report on my blog in an effort to get more information out to the public in order to raise more concerns about the human rights violations occurring in countries that are under dictatorial rule.
The husband told me that all the information I wanted on King Abdullah II was on the internet. I told the husband that I was looking for some personal accounts of information that you may not find in the main stream media. At this point the wife looked to be more nervous than before and the husband mention something to me that I found rather interesting regarding our conversation on Jordanian politics. The husband said, “my friend all I can tell you is that when Bill Clinton was the president the economy was good, but today I don’t like Bill Clinton.”
So was the husband indicating that since King Abdullah II has been in power Jordan’s economy is good, but he doesn’t like the King at this point in time? After his statement, the husband became very disengaged and uninterested in discussing anything to do with Jordan or King Abdullah II which was odd coming from a person that was happy to tell you where they were from and very informative and knowledgeable about a host of topics, but suddenly became silent and nervous when talking about the King of Jordan.
Could it be that this Jordanian couple are hiding something? Could they be supporters of the regime and don’t want people to know? Maybe they are opponents of the regime and they are afraid to speak out about the King for fear of reprisal against them or their family living in Jordan if word gets out? The reason for their silence may never be known, but their reluctance to talk raises suspicions about what they know and why are they afraid to say one word about King Abdullah II while living in a country like the United States where they are free to talk about foreign leaders. Whatever the reason my be just goes to show you that there is something about King Abdullah II that’s disturbing and thought provoking enough to drive Jordanian Americans into timid reflections of their fears.
Chinese Individuals Living In The U.S. Reluctant To Talk About China’s Human Rights Record
I want to address a mysterious phenomenon that I noticed in the United States involving some Chinese individuals who are totally oblivious about the political implications concerning their own country. China has had a long history of totalitarianism under Mao Zedong where millions of people died as a result of reckless policies and backwards ideology to a present day authoritarian regime that operates through open market capitalism under a cloud of state repression. The Chinese government is not shy when it comes to silencing its critics while going to great lengths to boaster its place on the international stage by building up its military presence in the South China Sea to trade relations and having one of the world’s worst human rights records and yet there are still some Chinese individuals who claim to know nothing about their country or its political situation which is interesting and suspicious at the same time.
During college, I was tasked with writing a research paper about some incidents that occurred in China in the early 2000’s involving numerous protests and uprisings in several different Chinese provinces throughout the country that were tied to government corruption and human rights abuses. Determined to find some expertise information for my assignment, I went to one of my favorite Asian restaurants where I got to know the staff on a personal level and was assuring myself that they could help me get the information I needed for my project, so I thought. Everyone from the restaurant is from China and seemed well connected and knowledgeable about Chinese culture. I asked my Chinese counterparts if they knew anything about the protests and uprisings that occurred in China and their direct response was that they did not know anything about those incidents or Chinese politics.
I followed up by asking if they knew about China’s human rights record and I received a similar response like before in which they stated that they knew absolutely nothing about the human rights situation in China. I then asked, well, do you at lease know about Mao Zedong and they said, oh yes, and that was it, no further comments. This was not a crew of individuals that I would deem ignorant about Chinese society which was rather odd having talked to the owner of the restaurant about Chinese politics a time before, but this time everybody seemed to come down with amnesia or did not want to talk about China for some reason. Now, when I visit the restaurant the staff just looks at me like I know too much.
I even went to the university I graduated from to ask some international students at the college’s International House about foreign affairs and human rights while I was in the process of starting this blog. I talked to a Chinese student and asked them if they could help provide me with some information concerning Chinese human rights abuses and they said that they knew nothing about that topic. I then proceeded to ask the student if they knew anything about China in general and they said no. I thought that was odd that a Chinese college student from China did not know anything about their own country and was reluctant to talk about it.
Before the previous conversations mentioned, I was at a function talking to my neighbor and their family who happened to be from China. My neighbor worked at the university as an IT professor. During our conversation, I asked my neighbor what they thought about the Chinese governments continuous crackdowns on basic human rights. I can remember my neighbors wife get up and leave the conversation upon the sheer mention of Chinese human rights abuses. My neighbor just dodged the question and said they know about friends of theirs that have gotten rich in China which was my neighbors way of saying that everything is good in China and there’s nothing to see here.
Are these Chinese individuals completely clueless about their country or is there something else going on here? Business Insider had an interesting article about a Chinese intelligence officer that defected to the United States and said that for years now the Chinese government has been sending spies to the U.S. in the form of students, professors, and work force professionals in order to spy and gather information on American businesses and institutions with the intentions on sending the information back to Beijing so that the Chinese Communist Party can devise ways to undermine American security.
Why wouldn’t these Chinese individuals talk about China’s human rights situation? Why don’t these individuals know anything about their own country? Why is it that when I mentioned the phrase “Chinese human rights abuses” that these individuals automatically became silent and unresponsive? Could these individuals be spies for the Chinese government and therefore talking would blow their cover? The answers to these questions my never be known until the truth is revealed. It just strikes me as odd that I can talk to random strangers from Venezuela about that country’s human rights situation and they are completely open and animated about expressing their concern for their country’s problems, but some Chinese individuals are a blank page when it comes to any recollection about their country and especially the topic of human rights abuses.