Protest is Important - why? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Protest is Important - why?

On 15th December 2019, deadly protests erupted across India over a controversial citizenship bill that critics said that it could further marginalize the country’s minority Muslim community.

Protester broke out at universities across the country, including in Hyderabad, Varanasi and the capital New Delhi, police firing tear gas at protesters at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Ongoing protests in Assam, in India’s northeast, turned violent.

In Delhi, the student began demonstrating at the prestigious Jamia Milia Islamia University with around 2,000 people taking part in the protest’s peak.

The protest turned violent when some students refused to disperse and set fire to public buses. Police then used tear gas, according to the police official. 

Anger has been growing nationally over the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which became an Act after the president’s assent.

Narendra Modi’s government said the new law will save religious minorities such as Hindu and Christian form persecution in neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan by offering them a path to Indian citizenship. But critics say the law, which does not make the same provisions for Muslims, weakens and the secular foundation of India.

The law’s enactment has stirred up protests across India, but the eastern part of the country, were movements against Bangladeshi immigrants have raged for decades, has been among the worst hit.

The citizenship amendment bill - The Analysis

With the passing of this bill the Muslim community is scared and this bill, which is now a law, is discriminatory in nature, according to an undergraduate student at AMU. We will protest against it till it is taken back.

In the heart of India’s capital New Delhi, several thousand protesters rallied to urge Modi's government to revoke the law, some holding signs reading :- “Stop Dividing India”.

Worldwide Protests in 2019 for demanding Reforms

Corruption, poor economics, political autonomy, and personal freedom are among the many issues driving demonstrator’s demands for reform around the world.

Bolivia – In Bolivia after the election in October, Bolivians in La Paz protesters claimed of election fraud against President Evo Morales.

In November, Morales announced his resignation and fled to Mexico. His supporters demanded his return. At least 31 people were killed according to reports. Read about Bolivia Protest........ 

Colombia – In Colombia protests began in November over a list of issues, including lack of a national economic plan, corruption and the killing of human rights activists. 

Protests drew more than 250,000 people. The protest also faced some deaths.

Algeria – In February, after President Abdel Aziz, Bouteflika announced his intent to run for the fifth term. 
An estimated 3 million protester in Algiers demanded a complete overhaul of Bouteflika regime. Bouteflika resigned in April. The election is scheduled for December.

 Chile – Protests began in October in the capital, Santiago, over proposed hikes in subway fares. 
Protests soon spread around the country, with Chileans demanding income equality, better health care and more money for education. At least 22 people were killed according to various media reports.

Czech Republic – In November, more than 200,000 people in Prague demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis over allegations of fraud.

Egypt – Rare protests and were held in Cairo, Alexandria and several other cities September 20 and 27, accusing officials of using public funds for personal fortunes. 

More than 4,000 people including 11 journalists and more than 100 children and foreigners were arrested.

Ecuador - Protests and riots erupted in October over President Lenin Moreno's austerity measures that proposed ending fuel subsidies and cutting the benefits and salaries of civil servants.
 The protests ended after indigenous groups and the Ecuadorian government reached a deal.

Hong Kong - Protests began in March opposing a proposed bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China. 

The protests quickly turned into wider calls for democracy. Approximately 2 million people participated in a rally on June 16. Two people have died since March.

France - In November, thousands protested, demanding changes in stagnant wages, rising prices, and income inequality. More than 145 people were arrested.

Haiti - In February, protesters in Port-au-Prince demanded the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. They also demanded a transitional government and the prosecution of corrupt officials. At least 40 people have been killed since September.

Indonesia - In September, students in major cities protested the weakening of the Corruption Eradication Commission. At least two were killed. Protesters also demanded the government overturn new laws that penalized people for insulting the president and banned extramarital sex, and gay and lesbian relations.

Spain - Pro-independence demonstrators in the Catalonia region flooded the streets in October after nine separatist leaders were given long prison sentences for holding an illegal referendum in 2017.

Lebanon - Since October, protesters throughout the country have demanded an end to corruption, calling for a new government made up entirely of "technocrats," or non-politicians. Protesters also demanded more jobs and improved services such as electricity, water, and health care.

Russia - Since summer, approved and unapproved protests have occurred in Moscow, sparked by the city council elections from which opposition candidates were barred. More than 1,500 protesters have been arrested, some sentenced to long prison terms. Demonstrators now demand the release of jailed protesters.

Iraq - Since October, anti-corruption protests have been held in Baghdad and the south of the country. By the government's own count, more than 350 people have died and nearly 1,000 have been injured.

Iran - In November, protests erupted across Iran after the government announced a 50% increase in gasoline prices. More than 140 protesters have been killed in 22 cities. More than 1,000 have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown.

Who is protesting in this new era?

The protestors are young people many of them universities or secondary school students. But people from across society, from various sectors and age groups, have also joined the rallies and marches.

Why young people lead Million to protest Global inaction on different issues?

Each country’s protests differ in detail. But recent upheavals do appear to share one key factor: In most cases, younger people are at the forefront of calls for change.

Yet while younger people, in any era, are predisposed to shake up the established order, extreme demographic, social and political imbalances are intensifying present-day pressure. It is as if the unprecedented environmental traumas experienced by the natural world are being matched by similarly exceptional stresses in human society.

There are more young people than ever before. About 41% of the global population of 7.7 billion is aged 24 or under. In Africa, 41% is under 15. In Asia and Latin America where 65% of the world’s people live, it’s 25%. In developed countries, imbalances tilt the other way. While 16% of Europeans are 15, about 18%, double the world average, is over 65.

This global phenomenon of unfulfilled youthful aspirations is producing political time bombs.

Each month in India, one million people turn 18 and can register to vote. In the Middle East and North Africa, an estimated 27, million youngsters will enter the workforce in the next five years.

Any government, elected or not, that fails to provide jobs, decent wages and housing faces big trouble.

Numbers aside, the younger generations have something else that their elder lacked: they are connected. Most people than ever before have access to education. They are healthier. They appear less bound by social conventions and religion. They are mutually aware. And their expectations are higher.

That’s because, thanks to social media, the ambiguity of English as a common tongue, and the internet’s globalization and democratization of information, younger people from all backgrounds and locations are more open to alternative life choices, more attuned to “universal” rights and norms such as free speech or a living wage- and less prepared to accept their denial.

In this sea of protest, a common factor is the increased willingness of undemocratic regimes, ruling elites and wealthy oligarchies to use force to crush threats to their power – while hypocritically condemning protester violence. Repression is often justified in the name of fighting terrorism.

Another negative is the perceived, growing readiness of democratically elected governments, notably in the US and Europe, to lie, manipulate and misinform. Distrust of politicians, and resulting public alienation.

Perhaps these protests will one day merge into a joined-up global revolt against injustice, inequality, environmental ruin, and oppressive powers-that-be. Meanwhile, spare a thought for a different type of protest – the one you never hear about – and what that may entail.

Why protest play an important part in the Civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of all societies?

Historically, protests have often inspired positive social change and the advancement of human rights, and they continue to help define and protect civic space in all parts of the world. Protests encourage the development of an engaged and informed citizenry.

They strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs. They enable individuals and groups to express dissent and grievances, to share views and opinions, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that the authorities and other powerful entities rectify problems and are accountable for their actions. 

This is especially important for those whose interests are otherwise poorly represented or marginalized.

Yet governments around the world too often treat protests as either an inconvenience to be controlled or a threat to be extinguished.

Digital technologies offer new opportunities and challenges to protests and they are used both as a crucial medium for enabling protests to take place and a platform for protest. Technological advancements have also significantly enhanced the ability of governments to infringe and potentially violate human rights in protests.

The right to protest formally involves the exercise of numerous fundamental human rights, and is essential for securing all human rights.

 While important in all societies, few protests are completely free of risk or potential harm to others.

 Hence, international standards allow for restrictions on many of the human rights engaged in protests; however, these are allowed only under limited and narrow circumstances. 

Despite existing guarantees in international human rights law, it has been widely recognized that States need greater guidance in understanding and implementing their obligations in this field.

These Principles, therefore, elaborate a set of minimum standards for the respect, protection, and fulfillment of the right to protest, while promoting a clear recognition of the limited scope of restrictions.

They represent a progressive interpretation of international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; of regional human rights standards; of accepted and evolving state practice (reflected, inter alia, in national laws and the judgments of national courts). 

Of the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations (in particular the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the standards elaborated by special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly).

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