Donald Trump refusal to concede may inspire ‘copycat leaders’

File photo shows a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump wearing the colours of U.S. flag participated in a protest, in Lansing. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network for human rights and democracy, has expressed “deep concern” about the recently held US elections, fearing “copycat leaders” might justify authoritarian and unlawful moves, citing the US.

“The US election must make us realise that one of the most crucial aspects of a democracy is the concession — the readiness and willingness of the person who lost the election to stand aside. It is a custom at the centre of any democratic process. It is what prevents tanks from rolling or people from rioting,” SAHR, headquartered in Colombo, said in a recent statement.

“For a region that has often been at the brink of such developments it is particularly ominous that the United States is now leading the way in the opposite direction with the President’s refusal to even consider defeat. Again, we fear the “copycat” phenomenon, where leaders will not concede or deal with their opponents with mutual respect,” SAHR said. The organisation was set up in the year 2000, following a regional convention organised by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, along with noted scholars, lawyers and activists from the region — Kamal Hossain from Bangladesh, Devendra Raj Panday from Nepal, Radhika Coomaraswamy from Sri Lanka and Asma Jahangir from Pakistan, on the need for a common, regional platform for human rights.

Observing that it is “extraordinary” that the President of the United States, who, according to international law would be the individual to be held accountable if there is actual vote rigging, is calling fraud against his own administration, SAHR said in its statement: “If this were happening in any other country, it would be called a non-violent coup d’état and a refusal to accept the will of the people.”

“As South Asians who have been deeply involved with the struggle for human rights over many decades, we remain deeply concerned about the recent U.S. election. An assault on democracy anywhere is an assault on democracy everywhere.”

The US constitutional history and its Bill of Rights has inspired many human rights defenders around the world, SAHR said, adding: “To see that same tradition now signal to the world that the institutions, customs, and traditions of a democracy do not matter and that pursuit of raw power can justify the usurpation of traditionally sacred institutions and processes, is to legitimise autocratic figures all over the world who have boldly jettisoned the rule of law."

“There are major issues with regard to the electoral procedures in our countries as in the US but these have to do with electoral participation. For the US President to be so cavalier and shout voter fraud with so little evidence and to assault electoral democracy in such fundamental ways is not only deeply concerning but also makes the world less safe,” said the statement, signed by SAHR’s chairperson and Sri Lankan activist Radhika Coomaraswamy, and co-chairperson and Indian activist Roshmi Goswami.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 9:55:53 AM |

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