As I scrambled to get my postal vote sorted in the UK, after the shocker of an announcement for a general election, I took a moment to think about how politics has impacted my life over the last few years. Disappointment, dread and shock at the lies we have all been sold. The fact that a business man, with no experience of politics, is the leader of the free world, and the main reasons stated are that people trust him, that politicians lie and that it is time for a change. I can’t lie there have been times when I couldn’t bare to read the news or go on social media, as I was so fed up with the negativity surrounding politics. In part the appeal of moving to Malaysia for a bit, was to get away from it all.
So as I think about being dragged back in to the ‘real’ world I take a moment to think about nations where being able to vote is not an option. Where genocide, conditioning and fear of persecution or constant attack is a way of life.
I think about Russia and how being gay is so outrageous that people are being abducted and tortured in concentration camps in Chechnya by a president who has vowed to ‘eliminate the gay community by Ramadan.’ Where you can be sent to prison for sharing posts online that are classed as hate speech, defined as speaking about opposition politics or speaking ill of the country.
I think of the continuing conflict in Syria and the way people are being killed and chemically attacked in order to regain control. Many people have fled their homes and lives just so they can live. Leaving behind precious memories and normality to live in a camp, if they are lucky enough to find shelter. These people are like everyone else in the world, with lost hopes and dreams and until war broke out, lives like you and I, they just want to survive.
I think about the apparent but denied genocide of Myanmar, a predominately Buddhist country that denies citizenship of the Rohingya and considers them illegal immigrants, even thought they have lived there for generations. Many are going missing; being killed and raped by security forces on ‘area clearance operations’ and others flee escaping to neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN claims that the authorities want ethnic cleansing, whilst the government denies that it is an issue, and others in South East Asia are calling for the genocide to stop.
And just yesterday I watched a young woman, Yeonmi Park, (watch above) from North Korea sob as she told a story of great horror and strength. One of escaping a regime so devoid of the notion of human rights and I cried. Not just in empathy at her story but at the fact we have little power to stop this. Kim Jong-un is willing to strike nuclear weapons at America and anyone who will join them. Getting involved may just make you a target and other countries can’t take that risk, even in the face of such a humanitarian crisis.
Sometimes it’s hard to think outside of the world you create for yourself, the safety of your home and family and friends is just too nice, and lets face it the world can be a scary place. I have definitely been guilty of that, but all of these people are humans just like you and I. Just as Yeonmi Park says in her speech ‘No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace.’
It may seem that we a watching these things from the sidelines, unable to help but there are many things we can do though.
The main thing is to get out and vote, no matter your opinion on politics, how lied to you feel or who you vote for, your vote is your voice and so many around the world do not have the same privilege.
Really read about the policies of the parties, it’s not an election of personalities or as I read earlier, we are not voting for a president we are voting for a party. Yes the leader is an important factor but it’s what the party aim to do with the things that matter to you that counts.
As Yeonmi says get educated on the issues affecting the world, and don’t trust that what you are reading is the whole truth.
If you care about a particular issue, write to your MP or start a petition.
But most of all please use your voice.
See my other musing on life… here