"Why do those voices ring so loud when the ideals of justice and freedom are left splattered on the Moscow streets, but suddenly fail into silence when the ashes of horrific injustice lay scattered about their own streets?"
The blood of a political champion is hosed off the streets of Moscow and everywhere the call of “justice!!” is heard. Western political leaders have responded with particular outrage; with US President Barack Obama believing Boris Nemtsov’s murder and the rather suspicious investigation currently underway to be a sign of the worsening condition of political and social liberty in Russia.
Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of current Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his stranglehold on the Russian political system. He enjoyed a large degree of support from the Russian public, who admired his bravery in standing up to a regime that has been decried as oppressive and despotic.
Boris Nemtsov was murdered in Moscow last Friday. He was walking home from dinner with his girlfriend when he was shot in the back by a gunman who rapidly fled the scene in a car. Nemtsov had been arrested multiple times by the Putin government, the most recent arrest coming in 2011 and 2012 for his outspoken call for an investigation into election results amid suspicion of electoral fraud on the part of Vladimir Putin.
For years Nemtsov was a tireless opponent of Putin’s regime, which has led to much suspicion that Putin may have had a hand in his untimely demise. With West and East squaring off once again recently due to the conflict in the Ukraine, the West has a particular interest in the proper investigation of Nemtsov’s death, hoping that an anti-Putin reaction might topple the regime of the man viewed by Western political leaders as a meddlesome, anti-Western tyrant.
The call for justice is not one to be ignored. It should be roared even louder in the case of a figure like Nemtsov, whose opposition to the iron-fisted rule of Putin made his life all the more valuable, important and yet sadly endangered. But there is something unsettling about these ringing Western voices, calling ceaselessly for justice and an open investigation, and that is their hypocrisy.
Where were the ringing voices calling for justice and the rule of law when unarmed black teenagers were being gunned down on American streets this summer? When non-violent offenders like Eric Garner were suffocated by the men whose mission it is to protect and serve?
Why do those voices ring so loud when the ideals of justice and freedom are left splattered on the Moscow streets, but suddenly fail into silence when the ashes of horrific injustice lay scattered about their own streets?
While our political leaders might strut about the world stage, wearing the robes of “democracy” and “liberty” and “justice”, laughter is stifled as we all steadily realise they stand naked while they shout for Putin’s despotic regime to cover itself up.
The United States is certainly no stranger to dispatching dissenting voices on the world stage. When the democratically elected leader of Chile, Salvador Allende, proved to be a socialist thorn in the side of Western interests in the region, the CIA had no issue whatsoever with violently overthrowing the popular leader of the country. The United States freely collaborated in a coup d’etat which saw violence explode through the streets of Santiago.
In place of Allende, an immensely popular figure, the US saw fit to establish the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, a man who made liberal use of political prisons and concentration camps for political opponents.
Where were the cries of justice then? Where was the desire for a transparent and open investigation? Thin on the ground. The principle of justice is a vital one to any healthy democracy, but it must in fact be a real and solid principle, not just a catchphrase to be used when it is convenient for political purposes.
If we wish to expose the faults of others, we must first make sure that our own clothes are unstained by blood, unmarred by the cigarette burns of CIA black sites and secret torture facilities.
If we believe in justice, in fairness and equality, in all those shiny liberal values we love to trumpet, then we might start observing them at home before exporting them abroad.