Thinking about Georgia
You may have seen Georgia in the news, and I wanted to let you know weare okay, if a bit shaken.
I woke up in a democracy, and I went to sleep in a dictatorship.
In one day, in one massive, violent crack down, everything changed. But now everything is perfectly, preternaturally peaceful.
Cars are driving past my window and people are going to work like nothing happened — as if no one was in jail, as if it were a free country still.
Our neighborhood was untouched by the violence, and was quiet all day yesterday, nothing happened here. However, it was all live on television and made real through anguished phone calls punctuated with screams and yells and the sounds of rubber bullets. The protests are over for now, because ALL the media in the country is shut down (except the Government station) and no one can tell the news anymore. Lots of rumors are floating around but no one knows anything for sure; certainly there are mass arrests happening and perhaps worse… As an foreigner I am of course protected, not that I have done anything wrong, other than write this letter.
It makes me realize how easily this can happen any where in the world, even in the West. Just declare a state of emergency, shut down the media for the sake of public security and BAM you own the country.
I am so sad for my friends here, for my adopted homeland.
We are staying for now, but that might change. It depends on what happens next, which depends on how much Bush and gang are supporting this and how far they will let the crazies here go. Based on what is happening in Pakistan, pretty damn far. But then again, this is
a Christan country, so perhaps they will put on the leash. Hard to say. From my experience the streets will be safer than ever, the only thing dangerous about Georgia will be speaking out.
Please, if you have any contact with the media, please tell them this was not a simple matter of clearing the streets for traffic. This was a unprovoked, brutal and authoritarian crushing of the peoples will, and a total extermination of the opposition. The only political leaders in the country not in jail belong to the ruling party. Before the media was closed down business leaders had started to speak out, including some I know, but those who did are probably now in jail as well. The President had an 18% approval rate, and it is certainly much lower at this point, the only way he could stay in power was through a massive show of force and brutal repression.
Remember, we are fine, life goes on, and today the streets are peaceful and calm. Too peaceful. Too calm.