LESSONS IN DEMOCRACY - ARABIC TRANSLATION
ADDITIONAL PROJECT BACKGROUND
About the funding goal
The finding goal was set as low as possible. The actual translation cost is $5,330. If we raise $5,000 we will also receive less than this, due to fees and taxes. We will make up the difference. Any funds pledged over the goal will be used to pay for the full translation cost, and funds above that will be used for promotional expenses. While we will mainly be doing promotion using the Internet, additional funding would be very useful to help spread word of the translation, in all of the different Arabic-speaking countries.
About the lack of rewards
We apologize for the lack of rewards. It is not easy to design rewards for this project. We thought of offering a signed copy of the book, in either English or Arabic, but both versions will be available for free download - English already is. We would also need to ask for more money, to print the books and to mail them, potentially all over the world.
The project organizer is available, though, to speak at any events that you might have, and to hold Democracy Workshops, based on the lessons.
About the project organizer
I worked in the business world as an employee for a long time. I then decided to take a break - a gap year, to think about things. I did a low-budget backpacker trip around the world, and visited the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia. I saw firsthand the problems in these regions, and decided to change my plans. I've been an activist ever since. It doesn't pay well, but it is very rewarding in other ways.
I initially focused on the Southeast Asian nation of Burma, now also known as Myanmar, which was under the rule of a brutal military dictatorship. Even though there was an election in the country last year, the military still has uncheck power. I am still very active on Burma.
I've concentrated on field work, not lobbying in places like Washington, D.C. I've done many projects, one of which was to motivate a pro-democracy resistance in the country. This helped lead to a popular uprising, in 2007, but which failed. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, but not millions. It foreshadowed the experience in a number of countries during the Arab Spring.
After the Burma uprising failed, I did a reset, and took a year to write Lessons in Democracy. A democratic transition has two phases: winning freedom, and then establishing a well-functioning political system. The second requires that the people be educated. The work was publicized by the World Youth Movement for Democracy, which led to activists from different countries getting in touch, and the translations that have been prepared so far.
About the promotional partner
Our promotional partner is Mohammad Sadek, a well-regarded Rohingya activist. The Rohingya people are a small minority, resident in Western Burma, and who have been horrifically oppressed for decades.
Mr. Sadek first become involved in Burma's pro-democracy movement as a young man, when he conducted polls for the National Democratic Party for Human Rights in the run-up to the country's 1990 election. The NDPHR was a party for the Rohingya and four of its candidates won the ballot to become Members of Parliament. The military dictatorship then rejected the overall election result (since the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, won by a landslide). Mr Sadek was arrested a total of three times, in 1990 and 1991, and tortured in a Military Intelligence camp.
He left Burma in 1992, and became a refugee in Bangladesh. He was later held - in 1998, in the notorious Cox Bazar prison, for one hundred and one days, for advocating on behalf of his fellow refugees. In 2005, because of the authorities' reaction to his activism, he was compelled to leave the country.
In the run-up to the election in Burma last year, the first democratic general election since 1990, the government publicly denied Rohingya citizenship. Their identity cards were forcibly confiscated, and they were not allowed to vote or to field candidates. In the last three years, many Rohingya villages have been attacked and burned. Their villagers - those that survived, have been interned in concentration camps. The government's new "race and religion" laws also target the Rohingya, including with birth restrictions. Rohingya people are further denied medical care at hospitals and clinics.
Mr. Sadek was subsequently trained in democratic leadership through Canada's National Reconciliation Program for Burma, and helped found a Burma freedom group in Malaysia among exiles there called the All Burma Democratic Force. The ABDF organized a solidarity march of 4,000 people in Kuala Lumpur during Burma's 2007 uprising.
He is is also a former Assistant Editor of the Burma media group, the Kaladan Press Network, and General Secretary of the Rohingya Youth Development Forum. He has worked as an interpreter for UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is presently Program Coordinator for the Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee, and a volunteer teacher for Rohingya refugee children.
This is a video of Mr. Sadek from a conference in Malaysia, which former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi attended.