The day the wall came down

Past and present walls by Latuff

Past and present walls by Latuff

Hope for other walls

Hope for other walls

Monday 9 November 2009 we commemorated a very special day. It was the day twenty years ago that the Berlin Wall came down.

If we look back to that day, no one expected to happen what happened that day. Hundreds, if not thousands, of East Berliners walked past the Stasi and not a single shot was fired. People power had triumphed.

It had started earlier in Hungary. A section of the Iron Curtain was opened up and those who were imprisoned in the East were able to travel freely to the West. It was not only Hungarians who took advantage of this tearing down of the Iron Curtain. East Germans travelled to Hungary to travel from East to West. The Russians could have intervened but they did not. Mikhail Gorbachev had already told the Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth he would not intervene.

The prison of Eastern Europe was open, the people were free.

What is amazing is that this was all achieved without a single shot being fired. In Germany the people could have turned on the hated Stasi, Germans could have attacked the Russian troops, the Russian troops could have fired on the Germans. Everyone kept their cool.

The one exception was Romania where it ended in a bloodbath

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mikhail Gorbachev. There was a great deal of trust between the major players at the time, George Bush, Maggie Thatcher.

Why did it all then go wrong? The West, instead of treating Russia as a friend and partner, took advantage of what they saw as a weakness, billions of roubles were looted out of the country, a Wild West Capitalism took the place of Communism. Former Yugoslavia violently fell apart, old scores that had been smouldering beneath the service for decades were settled.

A new spectre now roams the land, the new Fascism of radical Islam. Palestine remains occupied. A religious fundamentalist is the illegitimate president of Iran, determined to get his hands on nuclear weapons. Another illegitimate leader reigns in Afghanistan, in reality Mayor of Kabul as his writ extends no further, kept in power by the blood of US and British soldiers who have not the faintest idea what they are doing there, neither does their political masters, other than maybe safeguarding oil pipeline routes. Nicosia remains a divided city, a Green Line separates the northern half of Cyprus from the free southern half, the north occupied by Turkey.

1989 saw a glimmer of democracy in China, until it was crushed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre on 4 June 1989.

Tibet is still occupies by the Chinese.

Twenty years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the people of Iran took to the streets to demand the overthrow of the illegitimate regime, only to be brutally crushed, symbolised in the death of Neda.

Twenty years ago we saw a glimmer of freedom. A freedom that has been crushed, not by the tyranny of Communism, but by the tyranny of the market place.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: