MER - Washington - 10/27/1997:
King Hussein pretends otherwise in front of the cameras -- and he's become
very good at the charade -- the realities of the Jordanian police-state
are largely unreported by the "mainstream" media. In the West Jordan
is considered a loyal ally and rarely do the realities of "the Hashemite
Kingdom" get discussed; in the Middle East the press is simply repressed,
coopted and controlled. Most of the other Arab regimes are even worse
than the Jordanian; consequently they are hardly going to allow reporting
about repression and fear through which they also keep their people in
a political stranglehold. "Elections" are being held in Jordan again
next month. In short, they are a sham. The main opposition
is boycotting. Everyone else is either coopted, afraid, or trying
to be uninvolved. Simply said, the Monarchy and the Muhabarat (Secret
Police) control Jordan today as in the past, and even with recent developments
the CIA (and the Mossad in recent years) are very much part of the scene
keeping the Hashemites in power.
The following eye-witness account took place at the University of Jordan in Amman last week, largely unreported and unknown.
Today I know for sure, after endless failing attempts to convince myself of the existence of a true democracy in Jordan, I know that it's all crap... worthless blabber. It's funny how our government always makes sure that its citizens go to bed everyday with rosy-ish imposed images of our festive democratic life. Well I don't think it's gonna ever be the same for anyone who passed by University of Jordan this morning, let alone went inside to attend lectures, only to be in a state of total shock of the bitter truth that we've been trying to deny for so long.
I most feel obliged, as someone who happened to be at UJ since 9 in the morning, to try and say everything that I've heard and seen, since unfortunately there were no reporters, no journalists, no nothing.
Yesterday, Tuesday Oct. 21st, our students' council at UJ distributed papers that told the story of how the student council chairman went to see some high-rank official to ask permission for a demonstration to take place today, Wednesday Oct. 22nd, at 11:00am. The cause behind the demonstration was meant to be the demand of a Jordanian Student General Union. Very surprisingly, students' council chairman was addressed very rudely, and threatened that if he and his fellow student-council members continue with this demand of theirs, he'll be arrested and sent where no one will ever know about him any more!! . . . feeling the burden of responsibility, our chairman insisted that the demonstration takes place, upon which the official's response was an even harsher threaten; one that is said to have been carried out this morning, arresting the chairman along with 4 other student-council members.
All that I've mentioned so far is merely what I've heard or read, but what follows is the really entertaining part; the one I've witnessed with my own eyes. From 8:00am this morning, the road leading directly to the main gate of the university was blocked for cars; only public buses were allowed in. Not less than 20 navy blue vans (the ones used for collective arresting) were lined outside the university main gate, along with something like 5 huge "things" that I've never seen before but was told that they're equipped with large water hoses to be used against demonstrators. And last, but definitely NOT least, a group of approximately 350 public security men dressed in navy blue, with their helmets, clubs and pistols on, sitting on the ground of an area that may well cover a basketball field, ready, or maybe even eager, to attack!
I, like most of us out there, am still in a state of shock. This is the only way I can describe how I've been feeling ever since that minute... I was so much distressed by the idea that something nasty may happen, I don't know what got to me, but I went and stood near the university fence, which was the only thing separating us from the "soldiers", and I couldn't help but address them and ask what they were intended to do; how far were they supposed to go if something happens. I said: Are you gonna beat those students up??? I know it's stupid, but the answer I got from one of the men was: wallah lanla77emhom (we'll "butcher" them).
I happened to have a camera with me, one which I usually use to capture precious and rosy moments of my last year at UJ, and I did manage to get a photo of those fierce-looking men, although I then had to run faster than I've ever done before, since "el-faleeleh 3/4 el-marajel!" (for although those men cannot by any means get into the university campus, yet we do have our "ta3qeeb" security men, one of which was heading towards me, or so I suspected). Fortunately enough, the demonstration did not take place, and things went smoothly. It was 15 minutes ago that I passed by UJ again. The men were gone, vans nearly disappeared, but still elhamdilla there are 5 white vans, just in case . . . God, it was only a demonstration!
democracy . . . HUH!