Tunisians throw off oppressive government

(Picture courtesy of Nasser Nouri at flickr.com.)

The events that led to freedom in Tunisia are being echoed in rioting in China now.   In Tunis, a youth who supplied his family’s only source of support spent his days selling vegetables and fruits from a cart.   When the officials who oversee, and demand bribes from this trade, confiscated his goods – not for the first time – he was driven to despair.   Crippled in his efforts to make a meager living by continual corrupt official oppression, that vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, committed suicide.

Mr. Bouazizi, a fruit vendor, set himself on fire in front of the local governor’s office after the authorities confiscated his fruit, beat him and refused to return his property. He is now seen as the instigator of a revolution that forced out President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of authoritarian rule.

The furor that greeted this tragic young man’s death led to rioting in the small town where it occured, then to Tunisia, the capitol.   Finally, with citizens rising up all over the country demanding an end to official misconduct that made most lives there desperate, the regime was overthrown.

Today riots have broken out in China because of the same sort of oppression.   This kind of official misconduct should inspire a chill of foreboding in China, where the opportunities to support themselves and their families have been limited by official disregard.

Chinese police have quelled a mass riot sparked by rumours that a disabled fruit seller had been beaten to death by local officials.

State media reported that hundreds of people threw stones and clashed with police on the streets of Anshun, in the southern Guizhou province…Similar rumours sparked days of rioting in Guangdong province in June.

Long ago, the levy of taxes on U.S. enterprise led to an actual tea party in which patriots threw tea into the sea rather than pay outrageous taxes on it.   There were real, not pretended, issues of the ability to support oneself and one’s family then, issues that are breaking out today again, as taxes on the rich are lowered by pushing burdens off onto working people.

The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea coming into the colonies. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.

The oppression of working people has led to overthrow of government in several ways, and in many times.   In the Middle East and North Africa, the population has begun taking to the streets to free themselves of corruption by bad governments.   That unrest is spreading among an interconnected world of workers who are unable to make a living because of malevolent governments and corporate corruption of them.

What is happening in our own capitol has many echoes of what is happening worldwide.   When corporate dominance goes overboard, denying working people the ability to eke out a living, it endangers its own existence.

Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.