Global Governance 2019 – 2020 Protests

Written by  //  January 11, 2020  //  Government & Governance  //  No comments

See also China-Hong Kong

Thousands of students in Tehran called for ouster of Ali Khamenei
In a massive protest in downtown Tehran with chants of “death to dictator,” thousands of students from Tehran universities declared their abhorrence at the slaughter of innocent passengers of a Ukrainian airliner and called for resignation of Ali Khamenei, the mullahs’ supreme leader. Female students actively pioneered the protests in all scenes.
Saturday, January 11, 2020, students of Tehran University, Amir Kabir University, Sharif Industrial University, Allameh Tabatabaii University, Teachers’ Training University and others took to the streets. Chanting, “Command-in-Chief of Armed Forces, resign, resign,” they marched in Hafez Avenue in downtown Tehran and called for the overthrow of Khamenei’s regime.

1 January
What protests in Lebanon can tell us about inequality worldwide
Confronting inequalities is not about merely bridging gaps, it requires confronting entrenched interests.
by Mona Fawaz, Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at the American University of Beirut
(Al Jazeera) the just-launched Human Development Report focuses on inequality and supports radical reforms to change the fundamentals of how our societies, economies and political systems work. It calls for confronting elite interests to stop the distribution of political power mirroring that of economic power. … As the Human Development Report argues, income alone fails to account for the lifelong disadvantages these shadow city-dwellers face. Nationality and parental income effectively define someone’s lifelong access to adequate healthcare and education – or lack thereof. Some divides cross borders; women are at a disadvantage everywhere. Beginning at birth, inequity defines the freedom and opportunities of children, adults and elders.

20 December
A year of protests caps a decade of crisis and anger
By Ishaan Tharoor
(WaPo) Here’s an apt summary of our present: “All over the world, the protesters … share a belief that their countries’ political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt — sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change. They are fervent small-d democrats. … Decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they’re experiencing the failure of hellbent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract.”
If there is a reason to maintain faith, it’s in the scenes from the streets. The motives of the millions who marched this year in Santiago and La Paz, Algiers and Basra, London and Berlin, New Delhi and Hong Kong were as varied as their geography. But they were united in what became an epochal display of global discontent, an explosion of popular unrest that capped a decade of angst and anger. When they weren’t clamoring for greater freedoms and democracy, protesters were demonstrating against climate inaction, corruption, inequality and state brutality. In their wake, presidents fled, prime ministers resigned and governments fell.
… The relentlessness (and bleakness) of the digital age shapes our worldview at a moment of genuine planetary turmoil. In the past decade, scientists have understood better than ever the acute climate disaster facing the world. Far from visions of inexorable growth and uplift, policymakers began wrestling with questions of scarcity and survival.

1 November
The Age of Leaderless Revolution
By Samuel Brannen
(CSIS) Mass protest movements are roiling politics around the globe. Over the past several days, the prime ministers of Lebanon and Iraq have agreed to resign and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile was cancelled—all due to massive, leaderless protest movements. At this very moment, protesters are out on the streets of not only Lebanon, Iraq, and Chile but also Hong Kong, Spain, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti, Egypt, and Algeria. They have been out in force as well in recent months in Russia, France, Indonesia, and Thailand. In recent years, the restlessness of citizens has been channeled elsewhere into the ballot box for political populists from the United Kingdom to the United States, Brazil to the Philippines, Poland to India. And at the outset of the decade, the Arab Spring tore through 15 countries.
Citizen grievances are many but share a common theme: the failure of ruling elites and political institutions to meet expectations of dignity and betterment. Protesters are frustrated with perceived corruption and economic inequality. Often young, angry, and urban, protesters are not an organized opposition proposing the substitution of their party or ideology for an existing one but a leaderless movement demanding their voices are heard. In some cases, protesters’ demands are clear; more often they are muddled. Across the board the aggrieved want change in systems that feel outdated, broken, or nonresponsive.
The world is experiencing the volatility of what my late colleague Zbigniew Brzezinski identified in 2008 as a “global political awakening”—a sweeping revolution the likes of which we had never before seen.
This awakening has been amplified by the digital information age with more than half of the planet—4 billion people—now connected to the internet. Facebook alone counts 2.4 billion active users. And among the most popular topics for users is politics.
More people than ever before are more exposed to a torrential and ceaseless news cycle—much of it negative, some of it fake. And the ways in which people can connect locally and globally and draw comparisons and inspiration from events elsewhere is unmatched. The ability for individuals to connect, to inspire and coordinate millions onto the streets, is without precedent.
… Parallel to this phenomenon of surging political awareness and rising expectations, Brzezinski pointed to a change in global order in the relative decline of Western powers and the rise of China and Asia.
leaderless revolutions grow in perceived voids of leadership at the national and international levels around the globe. Cities, where wealth and knowledge are increasingly concentrated, are the engines of these mass protests. Social media is accelerating and enabling them. We are in a new age of leaderless revolution. The accelerating trendline is clear, and we would be wise to look for its further intensification in years and perhaps decades ahead.

17 December
France on strike: Power cuts, schools shut, no Eiffel Tower
(AP) — French union activists cut electricity to nearly 100,000 homes or offices. Eiffel Tower staff walked off the job. Even Paris opera workers joined in Tuesday’s nationwide protests across France, singing an aria of anger as workers rallied against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 64.
Despite 13 days of crippling train and subway strikes, French President Emmanuel Macron and his government stayed firm. The prime minister declared his “total” determination to reshape a pension system that unions celebrate as a model for the rest of the world but that he calls unfair and destined to collapse into debt.
Lighting red flares and marching beneath a blanket of multi-colored union flags, thousands of workers snaked through French cities from Brittany on the Atlantic to the Pyrenees in the south.

16 December
Protests Spread Across India Over Divisive Citizenship Law
Several people have been killed as the unrest spreads to new corners of the country, and security forces have cracked down
(NYT) Furious protests against a new citizenship law continued to erupt across India on Monday, provoking a harsh security response and presenting the most widespread challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he came to power five years ago.
On Sunday, police officers stormed a predominantly Muslim university in New Delhi, the capital, firing tear gas into a library where students had sought refuge, and beating up dozens.
The protests have gripped many major Indian cities and are a reaction to the Indian Parliament’s decision last week to pass a contentious measure that would give special treatment to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants in India.

14 December
Thousands join Bangkok’s biggest political protest since 2014 coup
1st major rally since March elections returned military junta to power
The demonstration in Bangkok, called just a day earlier by Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a 41-year-old billionaire, revived memories of the spasms of street protest that have roiled the Thai capital periodically during the past two decades of political turbulence.
Thanathorn has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by Prayuth, 65, since an election in March that the opposition said was manipulated to favor the army.

13 December
UN accuses Chile security forces of ‘serious human rights violations’ against protesters
Report details alleged maimings, torture, sexual abuse and the use of excessive force
(AP via CBC) The report was released by the UN Human Rights Office, which is headed by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet — a domestic political rival of current President Sebastian Pinera.
The high commissioner’s report, which drew push-back from Chilean officials, urged the government to allow its citizens to peacefully demonstrate without being physically harmed.

3 December
One of the worst crackdowns in decades is happening in Iran. Here’s what we know
(CNN)Iranians are no strangers to protests. Rarely, however, has the government’s response seemed quite as brutal as this.
For the past century, Iranians have demonstrated on all kinds of political, social and economic issues.
Dr. Sanam Vakil, deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa program at British think tank Chatham House, tells CNN that “protesting is effectively part of Iranian culture.”
Now, experts say that the long history of protest appears to have been met with a level of brutality that enters new territory, even by the Islamic republic’s hard-line standards.
“This is a regime that’s been repressive for four decades,” said Vakil. “But this last round (of crackdowns) seems like they’ve crossed a red line” in terms of their swift “vengeance and brutality.”
The government’s week-long internet blackout — which has now been lifted, according to Netblocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors internet governance — has also made reporting on the crackdown all the more difficult.

30 November
Global Protests in 2019: Demonstrators Around World Demand Reform
(VOA) Corruption, poor economies, political autonomy and personal freedom are among the many issues driving demonstrators’ demands for reform around the world.
Max Boot: A ‘revolution of rising expectations’ topples Iraq’s prime minister
(WaPo) Iraq is ostensibly a democracy, but there is little connection between the will of the people, as expressed at the ballot box, and the composition of the government, which is determined in backroom deals among Shiite political parties that are beholden to Iran. The most powerful man in the country is probably Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, the unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps charged with exporting Iran’s revolution abroad.
These are the ingredients that over the past two months have combusted to produce what political scientists call a “revolution of rising expectations.” Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, mainly young Shiites whose fury is directed against their own political class and its Iranian patrons.
It is understandable if, more than 16 years after the invasion of Iraq, Americans are heartily sick of that country. But even as our interest level wanes, Iraq’s strategic importance remains unchanged. It has the fifth-largest proven oil reserves in the world (148.8 billion barrels, or 8.8 percent of the global total), and it has a critical position between Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Iraqi prime minister says he will submit resignation to head off further bloodshed

28 November
Iraqi forces kill 45 protesters after Iranian consulate torched.
(Reuters) – Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 45 protesters on Thursday after demonstrators stormed and torched an Iranian consulate overnight, in what could mark a turning point in the uprising against the Tehran-backed authorities.
Iraqi leader orders investigation as deadly protests rage on
(CNN) Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi has ordered an investigation into violence that has led to the deaths of at least 31 people this week in ongoing anti-government protests. Protests against alleged government corruption and a rejection of Iranian involvement in the country’s affairs have continued since October 1.

27 November
Colombia Is on Fire as Latin America’s Deadly Mass Protests Spread
(Daily Beast) This nation known as the “Gateway to South America” has become the latest Latin American state to be shaken by widespread, anti-government demonstrations. More than 200,000 marchers turned out across Colombia last Thursday to protest against the administration of the right-wing president, Ivan Duque.  Since then, in major cities throughout this Andean nation, the largely peaceful demonstrators have been met by notoriously brutal riot squads wielding truncheons and firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Troops have occupied the streets in urban areas. Curfews imposed. Borders closed. Foreign “agitators” deported.
Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia have all been roiled by protest movements of late. And in each of those cases, the protesters were able to push their respective governments to enact popular change. Chile and Ecuador were forced to freeze certain austerity measures, while controversial Bolivian president Evo Morales was driven out of office entirely, even as counterprotesters declared him the victim of a coup.
Other recent popular uprisings in Nicaragua and Venezuela were less effective, but still generated massive turnouts and captured headlines around the world.
Iran says hundreds of banks were torched in ‘vast’ unrest plot
(Reuters) – Iran’s top leader on Wednesday denounced an outbreak of deadly unrest as a “very dangerous conspiracy” as authorities reported about 731 banks and 140 government sites had been torched in the disturbances.
More than 50 bases used by security forces were attacked and approximately 70 gas stations were also burned, [Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli] said, in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency, without specifying where the attacks took place.

26 November
Iran Strengthens Response to Protests
(NYT) The authorities in Iran strengthened their reprisals on Tuesday over the protests that engulfed the country last week, arresting “six main elements” accused of rioting in Tehran and penalizing Iranian journalists overseas who publicized the mayhem.
Although internet service that had been suspended in Iran after the protests erupted has been partly restored, it may be curtailed indefinitely, government officials warned. Mobile phone access to the internet remains blocked.
Despite the internet shutdown that cut off much of the country, many videos and photos were posted that painted an anecdotal picture of widespread street clashes, burning buildings and shootings of unarmed demonstrators, presumably by members of the security forces.
Amnesty International has said more than 140 people were killed, mostly by firearms — a figure that officials have criticized as speculative. Two journalists contacted inside the country, speaking on condition of anonymity because of concern for their safety, said they believed that the death toll was at least 218, based on coroners’ reports, with more than 1,900 people injured and at least 7,000 arrested.

24 November
Hezbollah supporters clash with protesters in Lebanese capital
The attacks by young men armed with clubs and metal rods chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans continued into the early hours of Monday as riot police and soldiers formed a human barrier preventing them from reaching the protesters.

19 November
What’s next for Lebanon? Examining the implications of current protests
(Brookings) Over the years, many of us have marveled at the neat theatrical trick Lebanon has perfected: somehow staying politically and economically afloat, amidst conditions and lamentations that suggest imminent collapse. Predictions of Lebanon’s doom have often proved, if not wrong, then at least premature. This time, it appears that the curtain may come down on this gravity-defying act. Not only is the management of Lebanon’s internal and external debt increasingly complicated in a no-growth economy, but the public is by and large weary of, or even enraged by, the sectarian script and excuses that establishment political leaders use to advance their narrow political or financial interests at the expense of the country at large. The confessional patronage spoils that grease the Lebanese economy are now increasingly understood as a system to keep people confined to sectarian prisons. Meanwhile, income equality is on the rise, and job creation in decline. As a result, the entire Lebanese political system is now under hostile public scrutiny, and even Hezbollah has become a target of widespread criticism, a topic I will discuss in more detail below. …
Arguing that they are concerned about safety in a country where political leaders and social activists have been routinely murdered, the demonstrators have intentionally rejected the idea of promoting leaders out of the protests to negotiate on their behalf. This leaves an inchoate impression about who and what might be acceptable. (One has images of the scenes from the movie and play “Network,” of people shouting from the windows about “not wanting to take it anymore,” but without any clear proposal about what would replace the status quo.) This is an ominous sign that the status quo establishment figures, otherwise so divided, might find common cause in evading accountability and replacement, since the “street” might be less united than the picturesque demonstrations (complete with pots of bougainvillea as decoration) suggest.
Moreover, in contradiction to the carefully nurtured non-sectarian image of the demonstrations, some public frustration in Sunni-majority areas such as Tripoli emerged that “Sunni interests” were damaged when PM Hariri (a Sunni) resigned, when Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (Shia) and President Aoun (Christian) remained in place. Lebanon’s sectarian ghosts will be hard to exorcise.

17 November
The numbers that help explain why protests are rocking countries around the world
From Hong Kong to Iraq to Chile, protesters around the world have taken to the streets to rally against their governments in recent months.
(WaPo) On the surface, some protests have appeared to be spontaneous outbursts of anger over seemingly minor concerns. But almost all of this year’s major protests have deep roots and are the result of years of mounting frustration over environmental inaction, economic troubles, mismanagement, corruption or governmental repression.
Protesters were only lacking a final spark.
With protests roiling the globe, we explain the key figures that are driving the anger in a number of countries.
Lebanon slips deeper into crisis after Safadi withdrawal
(Reuters) – Protesters waving Lebanese flags rallied in cities and towns in their thousands on Sunday to mark a month of protests against the ruling elite as politicians struggled to form a government and solve the worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

24 October
Haiti Is in the Streets
Exploited by corporate predators, squeezed by the IMF, patronized by international elites, and bled dry by a corrupt government, Haitians refuse to stop rising up.
By Amy Wilentz
(The Nation) The situation that has been unfolding over the past year is the long, drawn-out, tortuous result of a concerted attack on popular democracy, and of the Haitian elite’s reluctance to allow any political or economic space for the masses entrenched in generations of poverty. The international community has followed along with the English- and French-speaking Haitian business and political elite—whose word on Haiti is taken as gospel by foreign officials who don’t speak Creole—and has also often taken the lead. This elite-sector-first strategy worked as long as people could still live in the Haitian countryside. But as Haiti joined the global economy and its agricultural system failed to compete abroad and was undersold at home, urban migration with all its concomitant ills began to impinge on the ease of the Port-au-Prince elite.
Without its working middle class (some still remain, but very few), Haiti has become a land of millions of the virtually homeless living in shantytowns built with their own hands, and a few millionaire and even billionaire elite families who live behind barriers and barbed wire toward the top of the mountain that overhangs the capital, keeping a stranglehold on political power and on all the country’s wealth—a wealth that comes largely from a demoralized, mistreated, and grotesquely underpaid shantytown population, as well as from some lingering tourism, some lingering agriculture, international mineral extraction, drug-trafficking, and corruption. For the Haitian people, there is almost no public education, no public sanitation, no fire safety. There is also no social security, no subsidized health care. Plus right now there’s often no gas, no electricity, no water and no food.

22 October

The Key Factors for Protests Around the World (podcast)
Ian Bremmer is the President of Eurasia Group, and Elizabeth Zechmeister is a political science professor at Vanderbilt University and director of the Latin American Public Opinion Project.
(The Economist) We are seeing increasing civil unrest around the world, with protests in Ecuador, Peru, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon, and Haiti, among others. While these countries have different forms of government and different circumstances, at the heart of many of these protests are the increasing level of inequality and distrust, and disgust, with the inner workings of government. Are these mass movements a tipping point?

A world on fire: Here are all the major protests happening around the globe right now
(Business Insider) Protests can be a powerful political tool for enacting change.
Currently, protests are happening in places like Hong Kong, Chile, and France, to name a few.
Despite each demonstration stemming from vastly different issues, many have common threads: citizens want to express their discontent with their current governments, from the “yellow vest” protests in Paris to Indonesian protests against a draconian criminal code.
Iran Is Losing the Middle East, Protests in Lebanon and Iraq Show
Tehran may be good at winning influence, but it is bad at ruling after that.
By Hanin Ghaddar
(Foreign Policy) In both countries, the unprecedented protests, which rocked Shiite towns and cities, have revealed that Iran’s system for exerting influence in the region failed.

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