Government : The Oppressor

Perhaps the most crippling form of terrorism is the one where the government of the country oppresses its people to remain in power. Lands fraught with poverty, hunger, diseases and illiteracy usually lack leadership or attract negative forces which assume the role of leadership for personal gains. The Africans have been able to demonstrate this well. The pattern in which a leader has stepped into power and has ruled with an iron fist has repeated itself many times throughout modern African history.

Often, the policies of the leader and the style of governance become so out-of-touch with the rest of the nation that severe opposition arises. Instead of adopting reforms, however, the government commands the army and various other sympathetic groups to carry out brutal attacks against any opponents, killing them and thus discouraging further opposition. The rule is strikingly similar to the colonial rule except the fact that a person and his clout rule by oppressing the people for personal gains whereas a country rules another for benefit by exploitation.

It is common to come across examples in the African context where a ruler or a ruling party have been in power for best part of the post colonial period of the country. Some of the rulers are notorious for their signature style of governance. One of befitting examples in recent times has been the rule in Uganda by Idi Amin. In 1970 when Milton Obote attempted to consolidate his socialist reforms, he saw Amin as a potential threat and ordered his arrest. Amin became aware of this and planned a coup on January 25, 1971. This marked the brutal oppression of the opposition posed by other politicians and groups. Soon after taking the high seat, Amin ordered legions of Acholi and Langi troupes which had opposed the coup in order to instill fear in the minds of people opposing Amin. This was the first attempt to consolidate power in the Amin rule and was followed by a slew of other moves. Groups were formed to torture any kind of opposition to the organization. Throughout his term, orders were issued to wipe out religious leaders, military leaders, ethnic groups which opposed him regardless of their standing. In all, it is estimated that Amin indiscriminately ordered the deaths of nearly half a million Ugandans in an attempt to terrorize his countrymen into accepting his rule without question.

In recent times, the rule of Mugabe in Zimbabwe is another highlighting example. With 100,000 per cent inflation per annum, the Zimbabwean economy is in crisis, courtesy the President Robert Mugabe. Lack of a strong constitution and impoverished people aggravate the already difficult issue of redressing the domestic problems faced by the country. It becomes difficult for the international community to interfere on grounds of sovereignty of the country in question. The irony is that the people suffer at the hands of one of their own.

All the forms of terrorism, the ethnic clashes giving rise to genocide, Islamist terror spearheaded by anti-western sentiment and terror for power are linked and rooted in the incapability of the common man to clearly and coherently express his desires. The enabling factors are missing. As Dr. Amartya Sen puts it, the enabling factors such as health and education go a long way in leading a fulfilling life. It is fittingly applicable in the case of terrorism. The enabling factors destroy the ground for misguided perceptions and visions which lead to the web of terrorism to grow more complex and brutally debilitating the ability of the people to live fulfilling lives. It is a matter of serious concern and should be studied in an unprejudiced and unbiased manner by all the parties concerned.



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