Sharansky: Free World Must Help Topple Oppressive Regimes

Jewish Agency chairman tells House Committee of Foreign Affairs that dissidents need help 'to cross the fear barrier', adding that the West must stop accommodating dictators.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said Wednesday that the "free world" must openly support dissidents fighting against oppressive regimes.

Testifying before the Congress House Committee of Foreign Affairs on his vision of the revolutions at the Arab world, Sharansky told Congressmen that the oppressive regimes “are doomed to fail”, but cited the “free world support” as critical to make people at these countries “to cross the fear barrier”.

The committee, meanwhile, complimented Sharansky his role in inspiring "hearts and minds” as a dissident in the former Soviet Union.

Sharansky told the committee that supporting a dissident revolution meant backing the protesters' right to expression.

“It’s very important to understand the mechanism, what is going on in these societies. There are people who are not satisfied but they are afraid to speak," Sharansky said. "And the dissidents know that the only power the dictator have is the power to keep people in fear."

"They might have different mentality and civilization”, Sharansky added. “But people went to the streets not because of the problems with the U,S, or Israel. They went to demonstrations because they didn’t want to live under dictatorship. They wanted to live without this constant self-censorship."

"From the point that people want to be able to say whatever they want without being punished – this is the common denominator for the Chinese and Libyans and others and those who say otherwise are simply racist.

"Most of the Egyptians maybe don’t like America, because America supported Mubarak. There are so many prejudices, not because the U.S. is ally of Israel, but because they suspect America will support any dictator."

Sharansky also criticized what he termed Western accommodation of oppressive dictators, and warned that such practice would only serve said leaders in regaining legitimacy.

“We were not helping Libyans by agreeing that their leader will be the head of the Human Rights Council," he said. You cannot trust leaders who don’t trust their people. If [Muammer] Gadhafi stays in power, and I can see this scenario, I am afraid that it’s not impossible that he’ll become 'legitimate' again in two months from now."

"You need your assistance to be linked to the wellness of the people in that country. The quicker the forces of the civil society will move, the broader the support of the free world will be – the bigger is the chance for positive outcome," he said.

"The moment when double-thinkers are crossing the barrier of fear to dissent – the question is whether these dissidents are getting the support of the free world, whether they are encouraged," Sharansky added.

"It’s time for the free world, for the Congress, to support openly these dissidents that are leading these cyber-revolutions. But if they see the leaders of the free world are ready to support them with word but not deed, there is a problem," he concluded.