Jumana Ghunaimat

The Coupling of Security and Freedom

تم نشره في Mon 22 February / Feb 2016. 10:44 PM

There is no justification or convincing explanation to the prohibition of a demonstration organised by parties, activists, and attended by parliamentary representatives in front of parliament the day before yesterday in protest of the election bill of parliament, demanding its amendment.

Protests and sit-ins are civilised methods of expression, and variations over laws like the “election legislation” are normal. Contrarily, the attempts to silence the other by prohibiting previous demonstrations as well, is explainable only in the discourses of decision making settings that cannot handle opposition; settings that deny parties, political organisations, and social movements the right to express opinion.

Preventing the demonstration, and then dispersing protestors by force, served their purposes more than it did the Government’s justifications as to why protests were not allowed in the first place. More so, such decisions are made in total disregard to how prohibiting demonstrations reflects on Jordan’s image, particularly in regards to freedom indices that have dropped over the past years; including and notwithstanding the increased number of detentions made against journalists and press reporters,

No one denies that regional conditions are exceptionally difficult, but who ever said that the police solution is the only method by which the internal front in Jordan can be fortified? Not to mention that variations in opinion and rights of expression are enriching manifestations of aspects we are proud of about this Country. They show the space of freedom we have that is shortcoming in regional realities; Jordan —although not completely democratic, has a margin for freedom of expression among other rights, that never did and still does not exist in most countries of the Arab world.

The problem is that officials who make decisions to incarcerate and detain seem like they are anxious to alter this bright picture that we hold dear and proudly before the world, inside and outside of Jordan. Either that or they don’t realise the implications of such decisions on both domestic and international levels.

During 2015, police forces detained 15 journalists and press reporters, and dispersed many activities —from sit-ins to protests, instilling limitations on freedom rather than expanding it. So much that the prior seems to be the dominant approach in this discourse that it damages the internal political scene and smudges Jordan’s image to the rest of the world in terms of public freedom. This —notably, drives toll on the Kingdom’s rankings globally.

The last incident of this sort —the suspension of a protest in front of parliament, damages political reformations the Country has been steadfast making, however gradual. This prohibition leaves an unhealthy political environment to incubate the coming stages, based on variations over the election bill and ultimately damaging anticipated expectations that accompany the good-riddance of the Single-Vote election law.

The important question here is: who makes these unhelpful decisions? For whose benefit are they being made? And why do we stop activities that, if left be, would not leave negative traces on the political scene, and may even go unheard of? Public wellbeing demands that such approaches and policies be revised and stopped. These practices ruin the Kingdom’s image to the world, and more importantly, weaken the internal front that already needs much strengthening and fortification against domestic and foreign threats.

Between the two ends —the coupling, of security and freedom of expression, as well as the public’s right to commune and gather, lies an important un-dismissible relation that should not be dissolved. Save for real threats to national security, like promoting terrorism, where the givens of a situation are clear and precise, and the adoption of such security measures is necessary, there is not a single convincing explanation to continuing down this line of decision making; further exploitation of “national security” arguments to justify the attack on freedom and rights is a desolation of logic that damages Jordan popularly and officially.