by Xinhua writer Zhang Yisheng
BEIJING, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Uprisings in the name of "democracy" and "freedom" engineered and backed by the United States erupted in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East over the past years.
The revolts bore fragrant-sounding names, such as the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia, the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, the "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrgyzstan and the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, seemed to bode well for their respective futures.
Over the past 10-plus years, their hope for U.S.-style democracy by way of the so-called "color revolution" has been relentlessly dashed: the once-promising outlook has degenerated into a bitter reality featuring frequent conflicts, shattered economy and unutterable suffering.
Tumi Rades, a clerk at a bank in Tunisia where the Arab Spring began, said he was "jubilant" when the rebellion swept across the country in 2010 and was once under the illusion that "the country would embrace democracy and prosperity."
"What happened later was totally different from what I had thought," said Rades. "The movement brought about the one-person-one-vote election, but the situation became chaotic and worse off."
"In the past 10 years," he said, "Tunisia has witnessed 11 prime ministers and hundreds of ministers. The government has been changing like a revolving lantern, working inefficiently with widespread corruption. The social order has deteriorated, and the income level of the people has plummeted."
Rades' sense of loss and disillusionment has touched a chord with people in other countries once embracing "color revolutions".
During "the Rose Revolution" in Georgia in 2003, opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili promised to build a real "democratic society," eliminate corruption and revive the economy, said Georgian political scholar Zaal Anjaparidze.
The country's political parties, relying on the support of the United States, came to power under the banner of reform and anti-corruption, and yet they were engaged in new corruption, and dissidents were suppressed, and freedom of speech was strictly restricted, Anjaparidze said.
"Georgians have awoken from the illusion about the revolt," Anjaparidze said.
"HOMETOWN IN RUINS"
As a result of a series of the "color revolutions," millions of people were displaced and became refugees, and a growing number of people have been living in poverty.
Mahmoud Al-Mazoughi would have completed his education in Britain and become a well-paid engineer, had Libya not descended into civil war in 2011.
But now the 38-year-old Libyan has to save money by teaching at a private school in hope of studying abroad one day.
The North African country has been ripped apart by violence since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 in the aftermath of Western intervention.
Al-Mazoughi said he was denied a scholarship to study in Britain as his father had worked for the Gaddafi administration.
"For more than a decade, Libya has had no unified political authority, and armed conflicts have persisted. Our country has become a victim of external forces competing for interests," said Al-Mazoughi.
Al-Mazoughi said his personal life and the country's fate both were forcibly changed by the "color revolution."
The life of Hadi Ghusoun, a Syrian in his late 60s, was even bleaker.
Before the Syrian crisis broke out in 2011, Hadi lived a decent life with his wife and daughter in the central city of Homs. As the anti-government protests whipped up by the United States and other countries turned into protracted armed conflicts, Hadi's family was forced to flee.
It was not until 2014 when Syrian government forces regained the central city of Homs that Hadi's family managed to return to their hometown.
Hadi said his hometown changed beyond recognition, and "the so-called revolution has left my hometown in ruins."
Azza Radwan Sedky, an Egyptian-born Canadian who was in Egypt in 2011 when protesters occupied Tahrir Square in Cairo, wrote down her experience in her book, titled "Cairo Rewind: The first two years of Egypt's Revolution 2011-2013."
"This book shows people how the so-called democratic process can undermine the stability of a country and the rights of its citizens," a reader wrote in the comment section of an online bookstore.
Li Shenming, former vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the "color revolutions" target not only the countries and regions where the capital monopoly interests of some Western countries, led by the United States, are located, but also the places that oppose the Western capital powers.
The United States and other countries have used the "color revolution" to carry out illegal subversive activities in an attempt to cultivate a pro-Western and pro-U.S. government, which is not a revolution in the true sense, said Li.