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Saturday, 26 February 2011

World leaders hail People Power anniversary

     MANILA, Philippines - World leaders have praised Filipinos for the bloodless 1986 People Power revolution, which marked its 25th year yesterday, and which has been seen as inspiration for other peaceful pro-democracy revolts across the globe.
     In separate statements, leaders of Germany, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Chile extended their congratulations to Filipinos for fighting to regain their freedom through peaceful means.

     Chinese President Hu Jintao had also conveyed his warm wishes to the Philippines on the 25th anniversary of People Power when Vice President Jejomar Binay went to Beijing to seek a reprieve for three Filipinos on death row last week.

     German President Christian Wulff said the EDSA People Power had been a beacon for Germans’ struggle to unite for peace and freedom. “Only a few months later, the Berlin Wall came down and we Germans were able to make our unified state a reality in peace and freedom,” Wulff said, adding that recent developments in the Arab world “demonstrate that people’s desire for freedom is universal and remains as strong as ever.”
Chilean President Sebastian PiƱera Echenique lauded the Filipinos for their solidarity in achieving democracy through peaceful means.

     Czech foreign affairs minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the February 1986 revolution “meant a historical landmark on the road to democracy of your country and inspiration for many others.”

      South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the people power revolution of 1986 offered hope across Asia that true democracy could be realized despite hardships and adversity. “The revolution will continue to be remembered as an exemplary example for people around the world who crave freedom and democracy,” he added.

      The EDSA revolution was said to have sparked similar uprisings across the world. A year after EDSA, South Koreans challenged strongman former general Chun Doo-hwa which eventually led to democratic reforms; Chile’s Augusto Pinochet lost his iron grip on power in 1989.

     Poland’s own people power revolution inspired the Singing Revolutions in Estonia; Latvia and Lithuania in the Baltic States in 1989; as well as the East German democracy movement which ended in the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The Velvet Revolution on Wenceslas Square contributed to the demise of one of the most powerful anti-democratic states in the world and returned democracy to the Czech Republic.

     Many more nations followed including those in Eastern Europe, spreading to central Europe where democracy lifted the Iron Curtain and swept away the Soviet Union on the heels of glasnost.
     “Even by just watching on TV, the emotion in Egypt and Tunisia was so palpable that it brought back memories of our own experience in 1986. While ours was less violent, the similarities between EDSA and Tahrir Square are uncanny,” Aquino said. “This shows that the human passion and thirst for freedom is so universal that no autocratic regime anywhere in the world could succeed in its attempt to stay in power forever,” Aquino said.

     Tunisians have ousted their president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power after violent protests. In Egypt, long-time leader Hosni Mubarak was likewise thrown out through a popular street uprising. The regime of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi is on the brink as thousands of Libyans took to the streets to demand his ouster, despite attacks from loyalist militiamen. Street protests are also strengthening the regimes in Bahrain and Yemen.

     The assassination of Aquino’s father and namesake in August 1983 sparked massive street protests – almost on daily basis – that culminated in a military-backed civilian uprising in February 1986 that ended the Marcos dictatorship.