London riot: What goes around comes around

Updated: 2011-08-11 15:17

By Han Dongping (

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For the last few days, young people in London and other British cities rioted in the streets in protest of the police killing of a black man. Faced with this massive rioting, the British government deployed over 16,000 police officers on the streets.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday that he would not be restrained by phony human rights concerns, and he was prepared to use rubber bullets and water guns against the rioters. He also referred to the youngsters who were rioting as thugs, criminals and so on.

The people of the world should examine the British prime minister’s words very carefully.

When a Third World country was faced with a riot or insurrection, the British government and other Western governments always supported the rioters and rebels, and always referred to the rioters as defenders of democracy and human rights.

Thus far, the British government and Western governments' attitude toward such riots and rebellions in Third World countries has been one that only added oil to the fire by supporting the rioters and rebels.

In a recent YouTube video widely circulated on the Internet, a BBC news anchor interviewed an old man on the street. The anchor asked the old man if he condoned the street rioting. The old man said that he supported the actions of the rioters. The old man also argued that it was not a riot and that it was an insurrection. He said the government and police have been mistreating the young people and it was time for the government and police to wake up and realize that there are consequences for mistreating people.

The world should not forget how the British and Western governments reacted to the rioting in Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, etc. I hope that the British government restrains itself, and protects the rights of young people to express themselves.

It seems odd that the British government would label their own people as thugs and gangsters when they used no guns during the riots, and yet they label the rebels in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen as freedom fighters, despite their widespread use of guns and other dangerous weapons.

Han Dongping is Professor of History and Political Science at Warren Wilson College, NC. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the China Daily website.