Amidst several changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is also witnessing anti-establishment protests for bringing more democratic changes in the system amidst severe violations of democracy in several nations.
Crux of the Matter
More than 10,000 people gathered in protest in Bangkok, Thailand, demanding democratic reforms in the monarchical system and amendments in the Constitution. The protesters also demanded the removal of “Lèse-majesté” laws in Thailand, where citizens can face 15 years in jail for defaming the King or any royal family member of Thailand. Protesters have alleged that the law is being used to suppress voices of genuine criticism.
While the absolute monarchy in Thailand was abolished in 1932, the Monarch still holds considerable power in the country, with the “Lèse-majesté” coming to his aid. In 2014, the Thailand Govt was removed in a coup by the military, and the country has been under a military junta rule since then.
Protests have been going on since 2019 in Lebanon over the dismantled economy and political mismanagement. These protests have been strengthened after the recent Beirut blast, which occurred at the Beirut port on 4 August, and resulted in more than 200 casualties.
The explosion occurred due to the storage of Ammonium Nitrate in large quantities on the port, with the compound being stored since 2014 and the authorities warning of a possible danger since 2016. The protesters have demanded the removal of the current government and have also criticized the “mafia” Hezbollah.
Mali, a country located in Western Africa, had witnessed large scale protests demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for weeks.
Keita was re-elected in 2018 after victory in 2013. However, the public had been demanding his removal over allegations of unfair elections, unchecked corruption, and an increase in attacks by radical Islamist groups.
On 18 August 2020, Keita was arrested by the military, which then overtook the control of the country. In its statement, the military has said it will hold elections soon and would act only as a “caretaker” till the elections. France and the European Union (EU) have condemned the military coup in their official statements.
On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a police officer over suspicion of fake currency usage. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, choked Floyd by bending his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds.
Millions of people have come to the streets for protests, which are still continuing all across the world. The move has also drawn support from athletes, musicians and celebrities across the world. Police defunding and accountability bills have been proposed in the US Parliament since the protests to eliminate such racial violence by the police.
In 2019, China proposed an ‘extradition law’ for the trial of Hong Kong citizens in the Chinese Courts (China and Hong Kong are connected through the ‘1 country, 2 systems’ provision). In June 2020, China passed the ‘Security Law’ in Hong Kong which criminalizes sedition and includes criticism of the government in the definition of Sedition.
Protests, going on since 2019, have increased in numbers as well as intensity with the recent ‘Security Law’ being passed, with the protesters demanding democracy and freedom from “draconian” Chinese laws. Several thousand protesters have been arrested, with several of them disappearing since.
Alexander Lukashenko recently won the Belarus Presidential election with more than 80% votes going in his favour. Lukashenko has been the President since 1994. However, all elections since 1994, including 2020 one, have been declared “unfair and rigged” by the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE).
Opposition leaders have fled to other nations for security after the self proclaimed ‘dictator’ was re-elected. Large scale protests demanding the resignation of Lukashenko have erupted in the country since his re-election, and more than than 7,000 protesters have been arrested so far. The European Union has declared the 2020 elections ‘unfair’ and has stated that it stands “in solidarity with the people of Belarus”.
- The Nepalese Civil War was a civil war in Nepal fought between the Communist Party of Nepal and the Government of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. The rebellion was launched with the purpose of overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing a People’s Republic.
- Social movement theory is an interdisciplinary study within the social sciences that generally seeks to explain why social mobilization occurs and the forms under which it manifests. Anomie and Egoism are two major problems behind social distress as per one of the classical approaches of the theory.
- James Jasper is a writer and sociologist best known for his research and theories about culture and politics, especially the cultural and emotional dimensions of protest movements. He teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
- The Indian Express – Mali crisis: Military vows to conduct fresh elections even as EU, France condemn coup; Top news
- DW – Lebanon: Protesters take over ministries after deadly blast
- The New York Times – How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody
- The Guardian – Belarus crisis: EU says it does not recognise election results
- The Nation – Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Writing Their ‘Last Letters’
- CNN – Thailand’s monarchy was long considered God-like. But protesters say it’s time for change