On 25 April 2007, the Alliance for Credible Elections convened representatives of Nigerian civil society organizations in Abuja for a summit to discuss their dissatisfaction with the recent presidential and parliamentary elections. The communiqué that they issued is excerpted below:
The Presidential and National Assembly elections of 21st April were fraudulent, a charade and indeed non-elections, characterized by massive denial of the franchise to millions of Nigerians. . . .
The Nigerian people have been disenfranchised, they are angry and we must ensure that this anger is channelled towards developing a political solution to the constitutional crisis. We applaud the spontaneous reactions of citizens against the theft of their mandate and call on democratic forces and civil society to provide a credible leadership/platform to the move for civil action against the rape on democracy. . . .
We will mobilise the people through the following means:
1. Rallies, mass protests and strikes
2. Active non-cooperation. . . .
The Summit recommends the following measures and responses which will complement others to confront the challenges posed: . . .
(b) To initiate and support a network of civil society groups and individuals who will institute class civil suits that are designed to, in view of the overwhelming illegality that pervaded especially the Presidential and National Assembly elections, seek for their annulment . . .
(c) Write an open letter to be addressed to the Nigerian people especially the judiciary. . . .
Finally the Civil Society groups consider that what took place on April 14th and 21st, 2007 were no elections and that being the case, the legal issues thrown up by them cannot come within the purview of Election Tribunals. Working alone or with other aggrieved parties, we will therefore seek for their review and ultimate cancellation by the regular courts. [End Page 183]
Despite these calls, the election results were received without mass protests. In the excerpts below from a report issued in Abuja on May 2, IFES Africa Deputy Director Nathan Van Dusen explains:
[T]he April 21 presidential and legislative elections have been widely condemned by domestic and international observers. . . .
Today, the streets of Nigeria remain quiet, despite the calls of several opposition politicians to protest the results. While their supporters are intensely frustrated and average Nigerians have had their hopes for good elections dashed, there are too many factors that work against a popular uprising. Three decades of nearly uninterrupted military rule prior to the 1999 transition is one important factor weighing on the minds of Nigerians.
While there is discontent with the progress toward credible democratic elections, no one wants to see the military step in to resolve the crisis. In addition, given that ethnic and religious schisms have a history of turning violent in this country of more than 100 linguistic groups, few want to see popular unrest over election results return the country to civil war.
To mark the one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, more than forty Chinese defenders of human rights—among them activists, journalists, and professors—issued an open letter calling for specific reforms in China before the opening of the 2008 Games. Excerpts from the letter appear below:
Today, August 8, 2007, marks the start of the one-year count-down to the 2008 Summer Olympics, a mega-event for China and the world. We, as citizens of the People’s Republic of China, ought to be feeling pride in our country’s glory in hosting the Games, whose purposes include the symbolization of peace, friendship, and fairness in the world community. We also ought to feel uplifted by the watchword chosen by the Beijing Olympic Committee: “One World, One Dream.”
Instead we feel disappointment and doubt as we witness the continuing systematic denial of the human rights of our fellow citizens even while—and sometimes because—Olympic preparations are moving forward. We hear “One World” and wonder: What kind of world will this be? “One Dream”? Whose dream is it that is coming true? We are gravely concerned about the question of whether authorities in our country can successfully host the Olympic Games in an authentic Olympic spirit so that the 2008 Beijing games can become an event of which China and the world community can be proud. . . .
Universal human rights have become the bedrock concept in pursuing lasting peace, sustainable development, and justice.… [End Page 184]
The government that rules our country has pledged to the Chinese people and to the world to protect human rights. It has acceded to obligations under numerous international human rights conventions and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has amended the Chinese Constitution to include guarantees of human rights.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, and in order to alert the international community to un-Olympic conduct that tarnishes the true spirit of the Games, we, the undersigned citizens of the People’s Republic of China, endorse the government’s Olympic slogan with the following vital addition:
“One World, One Dream, and Universal Human Rights.”
Without promoting human rights, which are the fundamental principle of universal ethics in China and elsewhere, it is gratuitous to promote “One World”. . . .
China’s government has promised the International Olympic Committee to “promote human rights” and has pledged to the United Nations Human Rights Council to “uphold the highest standard of human rights”. . . .
Little has been done, in practice, to carry out the promises that have been made on paper. On the contrary we have experienced and witnessed violations of human rights many times—in press censorship and control of the Internet, in the persecution of human rights defenders and of people who expose environmental or public health disasters, in the exploitation of poor or disadvantaged social groups and in retaliation against them when they protest, and even in abuses by corrupt officials who are involved in the construction of Olympic facilities and city beautification projects that are aimed to prepare for the Olympics. All of these actions violate not only international standards but provisions of the Chinese constitution as well. . . .
Out of deep affection for our motherland and our sense of duty as citizens of the world, we will do our best, and urge leaders in China and in the world community to join hands with us, to make the Beijing Olympics a turning point in China’s rise to greatness. China has the opportunity to use the Games to build true harmony on the basis of respect for human dignity and freedom and to become a respectable member of the community of civilized nations—not by loud rhetoric or brute force, but by taking actions to promote human rights at home and in the world. . . .
We do not want to “politicize” the Olympic movement. However, pushing the Games through in ways that violate human rights and that hurt people who are forced into silence, all in the name of a “dream” that belongs only to “some” people, not our whole world, will only plant seeds of resentment that will exacerbate the crises in China and affect the future of the world.