From Bolivia to Lebanon to Ethiopia to Malta itself, people are taking to the streets to protest. Protests where angry citizens have swelled the streets of cities across the globe this year, pushing back against a wide range of policies but often expressing a common grievance — the establishment’s failure to heed their demands.
The Protestor came on top in the survey which saw Greta Thunberg come in a close second…another symbol of the world’s anger and who managed to organise the masses worldwide in a common cry in defence of the world’s climate.
The wave of demonstrations is driven mainly by young people protesting against stagnant economy and corruption in the highest levels of government as well as, in some cases, by the ever-growing inequality amongst the population.
The demonstrations in Chile and Lebanon have been the largest in years and seemed to have caught their governments by surprise. But other countries, such as Ecuador and Iraq, have also been gripped by protests corruption and the dire economic situation, and the situation is still fluid.
Demonstrations in Hong Kong proved an inspiration to others around the world, though in each country has its different reasons. Protests in Hong Kong stem from long simmering discontent with what many residents of this Chinese territory consider constant erosion of the liberties they once enjoyed as a British colony.
Protesters burn containers in the surroundings of Camp Nou stadium during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou stadium, in Barcelona, Spain, 18 December 2019. EPA-EFE/Andreu Dalmau
epa08055857 Protesters carry placards and wave Lebanese flags as they shout slogans against the parlianment members, during an anti-government protest in front of the Parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon, 08 December 2019. Protests in Lebanon are continuing since it first erupted on 17 October, as protesters aim to apply pressure on the country’s political leaders to over what they view as a lack of progress following the prime minister’s resignation on 29 October, demand to speed up the process to appointment of a new prime minister, without the corrupt political class. Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for formal consultations on 09 December with lawmakers to designate a new prime minister, but it was canceled after the candidate Samir Khatib announced his withdrawal from the candidacy, after his visit Dar Al Fatwa, as said to media that, the country’s top Sunni religious authority told him the community supports resigned prime minister Saad Hariri to take back the post. EPA-EFE/NABIL MOUNZER
epaselect epa07963453 Hundreds demonstrate against the Government for the thirteenth consecutive day, in front of La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile, 31 October 2019. Ongoing anti-government protests were sparked early in the month after the government announced a price rise in metro tickets. EPA-EFE/Alberto Valdes
epa07892829 Iraqis protest in east Baghdad, Iraq, 03 October 2019. According to local media reports at least 27 people have died since protests erupted two days earlier. Despite an unlimited curfew that was declared in Baghdad on 03 October from 5 am, the protesters went out again and shouted slogans against the government demanding better services and jobs. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF
epa07885228 Anti-government protesters help an injured demonstrator during a protest on National Day in Hong Kong, China, 01 October 2019. Hong Kong has witnessed several months of ongoing mass protests, originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill to mainland China that have turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE
epa07768036 Anti-government protesters react after police fired tear gas at them outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station in Hong Kong, China, 11 August 2019. Hong Kong has been gripped for weeks by mass protests, which began in June 2019 over a now-suspended extradition bill to China and have developed into an anti-government movement. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE
epa07538422 Members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, supporters of Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guiado, attend a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, 30 April 2019. Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido has asked supporters to take to the streets in order to end the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. Meanwhile, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was freed from his house arrest, appearing alongside Guaido and military forces in Caracas. EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez
epa07538515 Secretary General of Venezuelan political party ‘Causa Radical’ in Spain, Manuel Rodriguez (C), delivers a speech during a gathering of Venezuelan nationals in Sol Square in Madrid, Spain, 30 April 2019. Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido has asked supporters to take to the streets in order to end the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. Meanwhile, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was freed from his house arrest, appearing alongside Guaido and military forces in Caracas. EPA-EFE/EDUARDO OYANA
epaselect epa07473796 A Palestinian protester wearing a Fawkes Guy masks takes part during the protests near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, eastern Gaza Strip, 30 March 2019. Two Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli snipers and more than 50 others wounded during the clashes eastern Gaza Strip. Palestinian protesters plan to call for the right of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East to return to homes they fled in the war surrounding the 1948 creation of Israel. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER
epa05895473 Protestants hold a Serbian flag in front of Serbian parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, 07 April 2017. Several thousand people protested because of the results of presidential elections. Protesters are denouncing the 02 April presidential election victory of Aleksandar Vucic. EPA/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC
epa07870612 A anti government protester wearing a mask holds up a poster that says ?Five demands, not one less? during a rally outside Queen Elizabeth stadium where Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a meeting with selected participants in Hong Kong, China, 26 September 2019. Lam is holding her first dialogue with the community with a sample of 150 participants selected randomly. Hong Kong has entered its fourth month of mass protests, originally triggered by a now suspended extradition bill to mainland China that have turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/FAZRY ISMAIL
epa07941795 Protesters participate in a demonstration at the central Plaza Italia, in Santiago, Chile, 22 October 2019. A new curfew was decreed for the night in different cities of Chile and is the fourth consecutive in Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepcion (south) since the protests that left 15 people dead, including four foreigners from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Thousands of people in Chile returned to the streets on 22 October, for the fifth consecutive day, to protest against the Government amidst the states of emergency and the new curfews already decreed in several areas of the country. Unrest, sparked by a hike in metro fares, quickly morphed into a wider protest against social inequality. EPA-EFE/ALBERTO VALDES
Iraqi protesters react after police fired tear gas at them during during a protest at al-Tahrir square, central Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday. According to media reports, at least 65 people died during three days of violent clashes between security forces and people protesting against the government in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF
But, maybe even before the Hong Kong protests, inspirations came from the demonstrations that paralysed Paris and other major French cities for many weekends this year by what was dubbed the “Yellow Vests” protests.
Recent studies have shown that the root of most of these protests stem from the financial crisis of 2007-08 where it exposed systemic failings and induced years of austerity and insecurity for millions of people and with the elite unaccountability exposed like never before. Now it often takes only a small move to spark a protest — in Chile it was a metro ticket increase, in Iran and France it was higher fuel costs, in Lebanon a “WhatsApp tax”. Protests that then ballooned in greater ones.
It also produced an acute sense of unfairness, in particular among young people who see their prospects of earning a decent living slipping away with every price hike or benefit cut.
The spontaneous protests that erupted in France, initially were a reaction to the financial situation, but eventually endorsed various other grievances of how France was being run.
A defining factor in all these protests, French and others, is the way modern technology is increasingly being adopted to organise the protests.
Though protests for economic and political reasons have been a mainstay in recent history, the world is now witnessing a new phenomenon of protests that are linked to the environment and climate change.
People like the Swedish youngster Greta Thunberg and activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement have been on the forefront, protesting in cities around the world, as they demand urgent action from governments.
Some protests succeed through the perseverance and determination of the protesters and other factors that influence the targeted issues. Others drag on for what seems an indefinite period in a tumultuous battle between the people in the streets and the decision makers. Suffice to mention the ongoing crises in Venezuela.
Experts say the multitude of long-running protests, some of which have carried on for weeks or even months at a time and where young people often took the lead, could provide mutual energy while also inspiring new movements.
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