Beginning of 2019
Towards the end of 2018, France had engulfed in ‘Yellow Vest‘ Protests. The protests began as an upheaval against the rising fuel cost, and cost of living in France as for French people living in rural areas or out of urban regions, a car is a necessity. The protest that began as an online petition, became widespread by the beginning of 2019 and gradually morphed into anti-establishment protests. Towards the end of 2019, the Yellow Vest protests sparked up again, but this time to agitate against pension reforms. The movement is ongoing. Protestors had resorted to road-blocks and other methods to show their dissent, whereas police did their duty of dispersing the crowd, sometimes a little too harshly that injured protestors.
Kazakhstan was the next nation to face anti-establishment dissent. 5 children died due to house fire in Nur Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Citizens’ discontentment was fueled by citing numerous lapses of the government and the rapidly growing economic gap. While the protests were ongoing, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over. The new President called for snap elections, which he won with thumping majority. However, protests persisted – some seeking economic reforms, some asking the government to not bend to China – and the government many times arrested protestors.
Algeriens ‘March’ Forth
In March 2019, protestors flocked to streets in Algeria. Protestors, mostly Millenials, saw unrealized freedom and liberal laws. They demanded the then Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been incumbent for 3 decades, to withdraw his candidacy. Majorly a government reformation protest was underway to diminish the monopolistic environment. Some protestors vandalized property and resorted to violent means. Algerians Police had said that “the majority of the people arrested were under the influence of psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances.” Bouteflika had to resign.
Hong Kong Protests, Trendsetters
Protests in Hong Kong flared up after the controversial Extradition Bill. The Bill might have exposed HK to regulations of Mainland China, and fear of this brought thousands of protestors, mostly young, to the streets. Violence erupted after Carry Lam proceeded with the Bill and the police resorted to tear gas bombing and firing rubber bullets on protestors. Soon after the protests took a meta form and police atrocity was another brick in the high wall of protests. Police and Student protestors had clashed at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Protestors used gasoline bombs and fired arrows at the police and seized universities to use them as a fort to develop weapons and strategize protests. While the police were criticized for using undue force on protestors. Protestors put forth 5 demands:
1. Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill (This demand has been met)
2. For the protests not to be characterized as “riot”
3. Amnesty for arrested protesters
4. An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
5. Implementation of complete universal suffrage
Pro-Democracy cried continued from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Protests could be seen as one in which highest number of people flocked the streets to protests against government action in the recent past. Repercussions of the Hong Kong Protests were seen in the economy of the country and in the traction it received from world nations. Social Media played an integral role in strategizing protests in Hong Kong, with a lot of people resorting to talking in encryption like using Bruce Lee‘s famous “Be Water” phrase. Hong Kong protests might have acted as a catalyst for the global wave of protests in 2019.
Mid Year Blues
Russia‘s Moscow witnessed unrest from the month of July. During the 2019 Moscow City Duma Elections, many independent candidates filed cases against violation by authorities as those candidates were not allowed to participate in the elections. Several people joined the protests to More than 1000 protestors were detained.
In September, protests broke out in Egpyt as citizens wanted to oust President Sisi and his authoritarian government. Pro-Sisi and Anti-Sisi clashes saw protestors coming out in the streets. Nearly 4000 arbitrary arrests were made by the Egyptian authorities. International Communities condemned the arrests. The government resorted to internet shutdown to curb the protests.
Protests paced up exponentially in the second half of the year. All the protests, more or less, revolved around raising voice against the government. Protests that began as dissent against price hike or political actions took the shape of anti-establishment protests. The tide of protest that also engulfed other world nations appears to be an exponential version of the Arab Spring.