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Belarus hijacking

We’re losing the battle for democracy

Protestors outside the Belarussian embassy in Warsaw. Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The “people power” that fights for democracy has stopped working, says Will Hutton in The Observer. Protests from Hong Kong to Myanmar are being viciously and effectively suppressed. A Ryanair flight was diverted so Belarus could arrest the anti-government activist Roman Protasevich, and the EU has done little more than ban planes from flying through the country’s airspace. There are four main reasons: first, “state-of-the-art” surveillance technology from China helps authoritarian states such as Belarus identify and track dissidents. Then there’s “Chinese power and money”. Strongmen seek to emulate China’s “Leninist capitalism”; Belarus was an early signatory to Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure project.

Third, the West, particularly the US, is “war-weary”. After the failed interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, which produced only “lost lives and disfigured bodies”, there’s “no appetite to lift a finger to oppose the new despots”. Most sinister of all, though, is the way the governments of Poland and Hungary, and other parts of the western right, are flirting with authoritarianism. They’ve become too seduced by political power to nurture democracy. But one day it could be your plane that’s hijacked or your child who is detained without trial. “Democracy is precious; the assault on it anywhere is our concern. Time to rouse ourselves.” 

Read the full article here.