In less than 15 years, the numbers of protests and uprisings around the world have more than tripled. Two of the largest movements ever recorded in human history have all occurred within the last ten years including 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests and India’s 2020 Farmer protests.
Everywhere around the world there are people organizing collective action to resist the many ways in which governments fail us. Even with social media strengthening citizens’ voices around the globe, there’s still many acts of ongoing collective resistance that news agencies fail to cover.
So here are four active demonstrations determined on returning power back to the citizens:
Iran’s Revolution: “Mahsa Amini Protests” began September of 2022
On Sept. 13, 2022, a 22 year old Kurdish woman, named Jîna ‘Mahsa’ Amini, was arrested, brutally tortured and killed by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab in exact accordance to the government’s strict standards in Tehran. This ignited protests in the Kurdish parts of Iran, then spread to the whole country.
Tens of thousands express decades long frustration with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime controlling hand. The Islamic Republic of Iran ousted the prior shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979 during Iran’s Islamic Revolution. This shifted the country’s culture and political structure, purging any non-Islamist governmental influence that wasn’t considered radical enough.
Since then, citizens have been met with pushback and violent government suppression, causing the death of at least 402 protestors so far, 58 being minors. They’ve beaten protestors in the street, killed online activists and journalists and turned off the country’s internet. This escalated into riot police shooting inside Tehran’s top university as well as killing young children who participated in any capacity.
Protests have taken millions of different forms of resistance, even the smallest acts have gotten one killed. Handing out chocolates. Student strikes. Refusing to wear a hijab. Marching. Chanting in the streets, Iranians shout, “Women, life, freedom.”
Sudan’s Revolution: “Million-man March” began June of 2020
On Oct. 21, 2021*, nearly a million pro-democracy protesters gathered on the street to show their collective resistance and resilience as a message to the military.
On Oct. 25, 2021*, the military portion of Sudan’s militia-civilian coalition seized full control and power from the country as it was going through a governmental transition period. They claimed it was to protect the integrity of the country in the time of vulnerable hardship; in attempts to avoid accountability for violence against protestors and advance their own personal gain, they have failed the Sudanese people.
Their economy is devastated and Sudanese people’s rights are under civil and political restrictions. Security forces have been accused of forcefully disappearing, torturing, killing and raping dozens of anti-coup protesters while arrested hundreds more. Currently, more than twenty former officials are on trial for a military coup that occurred in 1989.
Hundreds of thousands of citizens from the general public are still protesting the slow transition of giving the power back to the civilians and demanding accountability for the violence against protestors. Citizens have been saying “The people are stronger and the revolution will continue.”
In this complexity, Sudan’s resistance organizations have been creating blueprints with the goal of establishing a feasible and civilian focused government foundation. Neighborhood groups have been coordinating countrywide marches every year on the anniversary of the Million-man March and coup, refusing to back down.
“We know the security forces are trying to put us through all sorts of pain … to make us wonder whether our cause is worth suffering for,” said Dania Atabani,
“But we have reached the point of no return.”
In Myanmar: “Coup Protests” which began February of 2021
On Feb. 1, 2021, the Burmese military orchestrated a coup and ousted the democratically elected civilian government. Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, has been in charge and has been receiving international condemnation for creating a humanitarian crisis.
Since the start of the military rule, there’s rapidly produced a civil war, fragile economy and an extreme humanitarian crisis. General Hlaing has targeted ethnic minorities, shot ammunition at protestors, destroyed entire villages and killed more than 2,100 people.
In rejection of the military coup, opposition activists have been forming different groups to address different areas of the fight. Opposition activists have created a People Defence Forces to attack military convoys and assassinate officials, and Campaigns for Civil Disobedience where they organize mass protests and strikes.
Tens of thousands of citizens have been attempting to reject the military’s rule and return to their desired journey of democratic reform. However, humanitarian groups are preparing for a serious influx of Myanmar refugees. The severe crackdown of protestors has forced many residents to flee the country for safety, clearing out towns with tens of thousands.
In Lebanon: “October Movement” which began October of 2019
On Oct. 17, 2019, three years ago now, Lebanese citizens gathered in the streets demanding the downfall of the governing structures that’s been in place since 1990. Earlier on that October day, Lebanon’s financial cabinet implemented more taxes. It included taxes on tobacco, petrol, and a tax on Whatsapp voice calls, which charged users to use the free worldwide app.
Lebanon was experiencing an economic crisis, severe income inequality, high unemployment rates, a massive issue with political corruption and nepotism at the time.
So the Whatsapp tax felt symbolic for the long-term failure and weakness that the Lebanese government were letting go unacknowledged, while these governmental officials avoided any sense of accountability for their personal failure of the nation.
Lebanon’s largely peaceful protestors have been met with excessive force in many regions of the movement, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of individuals with arbitrary arrests, teargas, beatings, rubber bullets and live ammunition. It has been documented that security forces and militia has been kidnapping, torturing and forcing confessions from many protestors, journalists and activists.
Since the protests began, the Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in 2019. However, things didn’t change and protests continued under his successor, Hassan Diab, whose government resigned in 2020. To this day, governmental authorities are trying to negate and ignore the severity of the movements and their failures by trying to place blame onto the protestors themselves for the state of the economy.
Over one million people have been continuously gathering together to make their demands heard for the end to the corruption, resignation of all political representatives and economic rights. Citizens are still currently attempting to create feasible, structurally sound solutions to fix the socio-economic failures and financially aid the public that would allow citizens afford the costs of living.
Every moment, everywhere around the world, people are demanding for change. Moments of collective action are often the main focus of study for organizing together in attempts to highlight inequality and bring attention to ongoing injustices. We are currently living in a period which is currently laying the foundation for the 21st century to be considered an era of global resistance.