A delve into the photo archives today.
At a tumultuous time in history unlike anything we've seen since the fall of communism in the east, today we watch as one by one dictators fall from power across the middle east. Dictators who've been in power for 30, 50 years and in the case of Bahrain the same family the Al-Khalifa family has been in power for 190 years. The revealing thing about dictatorships is that many of them are propped up by governments in the west. Only when popular resistance really takes hold do we then watch as these culpable western powers try to put some distance between themselves and the dictator. Only when access to the middle east's oil becomes threatened do we seem to care about injustice. Only then do we invoke our ideas of democracy abroad. The US, France, Italy and Britain are all guilty in this respect.
In 1999 I was in London when Augusto Pinochet former dictator of Chile was arrested on the principle of universal jurisdiction while visiting the country. Pinochet ascended to power backed by the US and the CIA after a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist leader Allende. Pinochet is alleged to be responsible for various human rights abuses during his reign including murder and torture of political opponents. It is estimated that he killed 3000 of his own people and tortured thousands more.
These photos were shot in Trafalgar Square on Jan 17th 1999 during the 'March for Justice' when thousands called for Pinochet's extradition to Spain to answer charges of genocide and torture. He died without ever being convicted of any crimes of which he was accused. Let us hope that justice prevails in the middle east and that the people of the revolution will be allowed to become architects of their own democratic futures.