Conflicto social

Mahsa Amini is dead because she let the world see a few locks of her hair. She was 22-years-old, beautiful, and full of hope and promise. She died in the custody of Iran's morality police. She was neither the first, nor will she be the last.

Iranian officials claim she died after suffering a "heart attack" and falling into a coma (she was detained for allegedly breaking rules on wearing the hijab). But Amini's family -- and demonstrators across the country -- aren't buying it. Watching dramatic images of protesters burning their hijabs, cutting their hair and violent confrontations with security forces, shows how little has changed since my own teenage years at the hands of police and Revolutionary Guard brutality.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranians march during a pro-hijab rally in the capital, Tehran, on Sept. 23. STR/AFP via Getty Images

The latest round of mass protests in Iran erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman. She  died on Sept. 16 at the hands of the so-called morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s rules on mandatory veiling in public.

Amini’s tragic death is yet another reminder of how the Islamist rulers in Tehran remain tone-deaf to the demands of the Iranian people. Opposition to mandatory wearing of the veil, or hijab, is one in a long list of public grievances.

The violence that led to Amini’s death was not accidental. It is part and parcel of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s attitude toward any political dissent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como crecí en Turquía, viví mi niñez a la sombra de una fuerte censura y me sentí fascinada por lo que las nuevas tecnologías significarían para el mundo y en especial para la libertad de expresión y el disenso. Ingresé a una escuela de posgrado en Estados Unidos, con el anhelo de estudiar cómo internet y la transformación digital afectan a la sociedad. Tenía un especial interés en las relaciones entre la tecnología, el disenso y las protestas.

Sin embargo, la reacción del gobierno de George W. Bush al 11 de septiembre cambió la manera en la que pasé mi tiempo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters shout slogans during an ongoing anti-government demonstration near the president’s office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 19. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

On Saturday, Sri Lanka’s horrific saga took a consequential turn when protesters stormed and occupied the presidential offices and both the president’s and prime minister’s official residences. Global media are now filled with videos of protesters swimming in the president’s pool, resting on his bed, using his gym, and fixing meals in his kitchen—after overcoming barricades, tear gas, and beatings. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had half a term still left to serve, had fled the scene before the protesters arrived. A few hours later, the speaker of Parliament announced the president would step down on Wednesday, although Sri Lankans want to see the president publicly announce his resignation himself.…  Seguir leyendo »

Security forces trying to disperse protesters near the president’s house in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Saturday. Chamila Karunarathne/EPA, via Shutterstock

Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to be known as The Terminator for crushing Sri Lanka’s nearly three-decade Tamil insurgency in 2009 as a defense official during the presidency of his older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Gotabaya’s reputation for decisiveness brought the siblings — pushed out of office in 2015 — back to power four years later after a series of Islamist suicide bombings stirred renewed fondness for their ruthless ways.

This time, Gotabaya, 73, became president and appointed Mahinda, 76, as his prime minister. They promised “vistas of prosperity and splendor”. Instead, they delivered soaring inflation, severe food and fuel shortages, power blackouts and a country on the precipice of collapse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters take part in a rally over a hike in energy prices in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Jan. 5. Abduaziz Madyarov/AFP via Getty Images

Harrowing images of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shocked the public—but also raised tough questions about whose lives matter in the West. Critics have focused on the telling contrast in coverage between the welcome given to Ukrainian refugees and the cold shoulder given to those from countries like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan as well as the lack of assistance provided to African and South Asian students trying to leave Ukraine. Before the Russian invasion, however, another country in Eurasia elicited similar questions.

On Jan. 2, protests in western Kazakhstan over a steep rise in fuel prices spread across the country, reflecting the population’s deep-seated anger with corruption, lack of civil rights, and economic inequality and stagnation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yelena Osipova en una protesta en San Petersburgo en 2019. Osipova, conocida activista rusa, fue detenida a principios de marzo por protestar contra la invasión de Ucrania. Alexei Kouprianov / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

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Los ciudadanos de la Federación Rusa tienen derecho a congregarse pacíficamente, sin armas, celebrar reuniones, convocar mítines, manifestaciones, marchas y piquetes.

Constitución de la Federación Rusa de 1993

La protesta social de la Unión Soviética a la Rusia postsoviética

En la URSS, con un sistema de partido único, rigió la aplicación de la censura y las medidas represivas que asfixiaban la manifestación de la disidencia contra el sistema soviético. No obstante, se produjeron actos de “protesta” a través de la sátira y en la cultura popular.

En la etapa postestalinista se abrió una vía de información y expresión fuera de los cauces oficiales, que circuló a través de las obras clandestinas editadas en el extranjero (tamizdat), las autoeditadas en el interior del país (samizdat), así como grabaciones (magnitizdat).…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters hold a long banner which reads: “We are the ordinary people, not terrorists”, at the Republic Square in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty on Friday 7 Jan 2022 as unprecedented protests over a hike in energy prices spun out of control. EyePress News via AFP

What prompted the protest wave that swept through Kazakhstan over the past two weeks?

On 2 January, protesters came out into the streets of the petroleum-producing city of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan. They were angry because the government had removed a price cap, leading to doubled fuel prices. While the government’s stated reason for the move was “marketisation”, semi-nationalised monopolies in fact control both supplies and prices. The protests spread rapidly across the country, first to other oil- and mineral-producing regions and then to most districts of Kazakhstan, whose population of some nineteen million is dispersed across a territory the size of Western Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Russian peacekeeper in Kazakhstan as part of the (CSTO) Collective Security Council contingent sent in following unrest after protests in western Kazakhstan sparked by rising fuel prices. Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images.

In early January Kazakhstan was rocked by three cascading events: legitimate anti-government protest against three decades of corruption and ineffective governance under Kazakhstan’s long-time leader Nursultan Nazarbayev; an attempted palace coup; and an armed insurrection led by well-trained mercenaries on the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s commercial capital.

On 2 January, a small demonstration over fuel prices triggered a nationwide protest movement which raged against three decades of rule which did not serve the interests of the people, but rather the ruling elite and its allies. The calls of ‘old man out’ were conspicuously directed at President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s predecessor Nazarbayev, who still retains control of much of Kazakhstan’s political economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por qué aumentan las protestas y el descontento social

¿Está creciendo el descontento social? ¿Por qué la gente sale a la calle a protestar? ¿Qué piden exactamente? ¿Cómo se organizan estas protestas? ¿Contra quién? ¿Se pide lo mismo en Bogotá que en Kuala Lumpur, Canberra, Beirut, Johannesburgo o Madrid? ¿Cuáles son los resultados de las protestas? ¿Consiguen sus objetivos o solo represión? Estas preguntas, entre otras, son algunas de las que nos motivaron a estudiar protestas en todos los continentes, resultando en el libro World Protests: a study of key protest issues in the 21st Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) que se acaba de publicar con acceso abierto.

Los resultados son claros, y mandan un claro mensaje a toda la clase política.…  Seguir leyendo »

Personal médico en México protestó el año pasado después de de la muerte de un colega por la falta de equipo de protección y otros suministros para tratar a los pacientes con covid. Credit Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Septiembre fue turbulento: más de 200 australianos fueron detenidos durante protestas en toda la ciudad y se declaró una zona de exclusión aérea temporal sobre Melbourne. La policía antidisturbios tailandesa lanzó balas de goma y gas lacrimógeno contra una multitud enfurecida. Trabajadores sanitarios en Canadá f ueron agredidos. Hubo concentraciones de hasta 150.000 personas en los Países Bajos.

La pandemia ha coincidido con un aumento de protestas en todo el mundo. En los últimos 18 meses, la gente ha salido a la calle en India, Yemen, Túnez, Esuatini, Cuba, Colombia, Brasil y Estados Unidos. El Proyecto de Datos de Ubicación y Eventos de Conflictos Armados informa que el número de manifestaciones a nivel mundial aumentó un siete por ciento de 2019 a 2020 a pesar de los confinamientos ordenados por el gobierno y otras medidas diseñadas para limitar las reuniones públicas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Medical personnel in Mexico last year, after the death of a colleague, protested the lack of personal protective equipment and other supplies to treat Covid-19 patients. Credit Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

September was turbulent: More than 200 Australians arrested during citywide protests and a temporary no-fly zone declared over Melbourne. Rubber bullets and tear gas unleashed by the Thai riot police into an angry crowd. Health care workers assaulted in Canada. Rallies of up to 150,000 people across the Netherlands.

The pandemic has coincided with an upsurge in protests across the globe. Over the past 18 months, people have taken to the streets in India, Yemen, Tunisia, Eswatini, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil and the United States. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project reports that the number of demonstrations globally increased by 7 percent from 2019 to 2020 despite government-mandated lockdowns and other measures designed to limit public gatherings.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester runs near a burning building during a protest on 12 July 2021 against the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Timothy Barnard / Sputnik via AFP

What happened?

Following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on 7 July, mobs rampaged through shopping malls and industrial parks throughout South Africa’s two most populous provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, looting nearly a thousand shops and warehouses as an overwhelmed police force largely stood by. The riots also ravaged large parts of the port city of Durban, forcing the country’s largest refinery on the city’s outskirts to shut down temporarily, while roads to its harbour – sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest – also closed, disrupting fuel and food deliveries as well as key exports.

While the nation has since settled into an uneasy calm, it will take some time to repair the damage caused by its deadliest period of unrest since the end of white minority rule in 1994.…  Seguir leyendo »

A worker sits in a looted shop in Soweto, Johannesburg. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

‘It feels qualitatively different this time.” There are few people I know in South Africa who don’t think this about the carnage now engulfing the nation. Violence was institutionalised during the years of apartheid. In the post-apartheid years, it has rarely been far from the surface – police violence, gangster violence, the violence of protest. What is being exposed now, however, is just how far the social contract that has held the nation together since the end of apartheid has eroded.

Many aspects of the disorder are peculiar to South Africa. There are also themes with wider resonance. Events in the country demonstrate in a particularly acute fashion a phenomenon we are witnessing in different ways and in degrees of severity across the globe: the old order breaking down, with little to fill the void but sectarian movements or identity politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Colombia no puede darse el lujo de permitir que los enfrentamientos en sus calles se sigan intensificando. Credit Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

Las noticias provenientes de Colombia son desalentadoras. Dos semanas después del inicio de protestas generalizadas, al menos 42 personas, incluyendo un agente de la policía, han perdido la vida, y el número de víctimas sigue en aumento. Más de 1100 policías y manifestantes han resultado heridos y se cree que al menos 400 personas están desaparecidas, según un grupo local de derechos humanos.

Las protestas empezaron el 28 de abril debido a una reforma tributaria impopular. Liderados por sindicalistas, estudiantes, pequeños agricultores y defensores de derechos de la mujer, comunidades afrocolombianas e indígenas y personas LGBT, los manifestantes ahora están expresando muchos otros reclamos relacionados con la profunda desigualdad económica, el fracaso del gobierno para establecer un acuerdo de paz en 2016 con el grupo guerrillero más grande del país y la violencia contra los líderes sociales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Revolutions can take decades to show their full transformative impact, but in the case of the Middle East and North Africa, the popular uprisings that coursed through the region beginning in late 2010 have failed to fulfil any of their early promises ten years on.

Instead, with the possible exception of Tunisia, they have only made things worse: several countries descended into chaos and civil war; in others, sitting regimes strengthened their hold on power or, suffering an initial defeat, returned with a vengeance, a brutal Tweedledum making way for a vicious Tweedledee.

In 2011, protesters flooded into the streets and squares calling for social justice, jobs, and an end to nepotism, state-sponsored bribery, and the daily indignities inflicted by a highly intrusive security apparatus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Manifestantes protestan contra la pobreza y violencia policial en Bogotá el 6 de mayo. Credit Reuters

Un país que sale a protestar en medio de una pandemia es un país desesperado. En Colombia hay amenazas más grandes que la COVID-19: el hambre, el desempleo y la violencia. Y fueron esas amenazas las que llevaron a miles de colombianos a tomar las calles en manifestaciones donde se han mezclado gremios de taxistas y camioneros, grupos indígenas, afrodescendientes, profesionales de la salud y estudiantes, con ciudadanos de a pie.

Hasta el viernes 7 de mayo se contabilizaron 37 muertos, 275 heridos, 936 detenciones arbitrarias, según cifras reportadas por la oenegé Temblores, y al menos 379 desaparecidos, de acuerdo con 26 organizaciones sociales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators shout towards riot police officers during clashes following a protest against a tax reform bill launched by President Ivan Duque, in Cali, Colombia, on 30 April 30, 2021. A tax reform project in Colombia added fuel to the discontent. Luis ROBAYO / AFP

¿Qué hay detrás de las protestas que han ocurrido en Colombia durante la última semana?

Colombia inició el 2021 con algunas malas premoniciones. En los últimos dos años se han vuelto evidentes las señales que advierten sobre un profundo descontento social. El gobierno, tratando de tapar los huecos fiscales que preocupaban a los inversionistas y de dar una respuesta a la pandemia, no prestó suficiente atención a la creciente insatisfacción por la enorme desigualdad, violencia política e inseguridad. Cuando el presidente Iván Duque presentó en abril una reforma tributaria que habría aumentado la carga sobre las familias de clase media, los manifestantes salieron a las calles para airear su descontento.…  Seguir leyendo »

A New Arab Revival: Not to Be – For Now

Standing in a Tunis, Cairo, Benghazi, Sanaa or Manama square in early 2011, one could be forgiven for believing that these joyful, family-friendly mass gatherings were an augury of dramatic peaceful change in a region that badly needed it, yet had very rarely seen it. That was a time before the reigning autocrats turned their guns on the protesters; before Russia and Arab counter-revolutionary forces rushed in to uphold a senescent order that could no longer stand on its own legs, and Western powers coughed politely while looking the other way; and before Iran jumped in to exploit the political vacuum left by Arab state collapse.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mural in Cairo in 2012 depicted President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and former ministers after he was deposed in the Arab Spring. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Ten years ago, as masses of demonstrators filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, I made a modest bet with a friend that Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s dictator of nearly 30 years, would hold on to power. My thinking was that Mubarak controlled the army, and the army could see that the choice Egypt faced wasn’t between democracy and dictatorship. It was the choice among Islamism, chaos — and him.

I lost the bet, but I wasn’t entirely wrong.

Mubarak himself, of course, soon fell, raising broad hopes that decent, stable, representative democracy might yet establish itself not just in Egypt but throughout the Arabic-speaking world.…  Seguir leyendo »