International solidarity at Dundee’s Demo for Democracy

Speaking at yesterday’s demonstration to a crowd of between four and five hundred, in a damp Dundee City Square, Sarah called for solidarity with fighters for democracy in other countries, including the Kurds in Turkey. It was particularly pleasing to be thanked afterwards by a young Turkish woman.

Here is Sarah’s speech:

Last week I wrote an article on the dangers of allowing reversals of democracy to become accepted as the new normal. I wasn’t making predictions about Boris Johnson shutting down parliament. It wasn’t about the UK. Attacks on hard-won democratic freedoms are taking place across the world – and every gain won by reaction encourages other governments to follow suit.

We can’t look at our ‘Very British Coup’ in isolation. It is part of a global politics, and must be resisted with international solidarity. We are standing side by side, not only with other protestors in cities and towns across the UK, but also

with the people of Kashmir, where the anti-democratic crackdown relies on brutal and overwhelming military occupation by the Indian Army;

with the people of Brasil, where Bolsenaro was only able to win in the polls because a compliant judiciary jailed the popular opposition leader;

with the people of Catalonia, whose political leaders have been imprisoned for daring to hold a democratic referendum;

and with the Kurds in South East Turkey, where Erdogan has yet again dismissed democratically elected mayors to replace them with government appointees – and where criticism of the Turkish government has landed thousands behind bars.

I could – we all could – list many more examples, both of soft coups and of violent ones. We are entering a new age of dictators, with the potential to be even more destructive than that eighty years ago.

This closing down of parliament should be our wake-up call – a reminder of the importance of democracy, but also an indicator of the flawed nature of the democracy we had, and of the need to fight, not for its return, but – as all the speakers today have said – for something better.

A constitution, yes.  A republic, yes. But also a system that really does enable people to be actively involved in the running of their communities – as those Kurdish mayors were attempting to promote in South East Turkey. And we won’t win that if we think of democracy only as voting in elections – even though a general election must be our immediate demand in this current crisis.

Real democracy is a continuous process of political engagement. It doesn’t silo off politics as the responsibility of experts, but integrates it into community life. And it is only through continued political engagement that real democracy can be won.

Those international struggles demonstrate humanity’s potential for dedication and courage; and they can also help us discover a different, more democratic, way of doing things.

We stand with people fighting for democracy everywhere – your struggle is our struggle, and our struggle is yours.

(Picture by Karen Taylor Murdoch)

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