Displaying items by tag: street protests
In response to protests which began on 9 July, Boyko Borisov proposed reforms to the constitution which have been decried by protesters as a means of keeping his government in power until the next elections. Rallies have been mostly peaceful, but there have been occasional clashes with police and some arrests. Transparency International ranks Bulgaria as the most corrupt of the 27 nations in the EU. The economy is said to be one of the poorest in Europe, mainly due to corruption. A 2019 report on corruption in Bulgaria said that at least 35% of public procurement contracts involve corrupt practices. Currently the European Parliament is discussing the ongoing anti-corruption protests, after some of the movement's leaders sent letters to Brussels requesting support, but the Bulgarian government isn't backing down. See
Belarus is known as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’. After being elected on an anti-corruption platform President Lukashenko ruled for 26 years, betraying his mandate and the trust of his people. When citizens cast their ballots recently they hoped their vote would move the country forward. But Lukashenko claimed an improbable landslide victory over his opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Sviatlana was forced to leave Belarus, and her husband is believed to be under arrest. Her return could inject fresh energy into the protests and create a character for people to rally behind as temporary national leader. She said she would release political prisoners, return Belarus to a pre-Lukashenko constitution, and hold fair elections without Lukashenko in six months. Thousands have been peacefully protesting for Lukashenko to go. The EU has not recognised the election results and is drawing up new sanctions lists against Belarus. Russia is preparing for a controlled succession there and protecting its influence over its long-time client state.
For decades political leaders have promised that free markets would lead to prosperity, which would take care of other problems. The promises came to nothing, and thousands of protesters are chanting, ‘Chile, wake up’. The middle class struggles with high prices, low wages, a privatised retirement system, and the elderly in bitter poverty. A series of corruption and tax-evasion scandals eroded faith in the political and corporate elite. While protests began peacefully over three weeks ago, now there are images of metro stations destroyed, supermarkets looted, and flaming street barricades. There are accusations of torture and abuse by the 200,000 security forces, who have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators. Social media is reporting many deaths. The UN is investigating human rights abuses. Two centuries after independence from Spain, the Catholic Christian faith of the conquistadors remains the largest in Chile today. Pray for the Church’s voice of peace and justice to be heard.
82-year-old President Bouteflika has not spoken in public in years. At public ceremonies or meetings his handlers place a framed picture of him on an easel. The government has announced that Bouteflika, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013, will seek a fifth term of office. Protests erupted, and continue. 70% of Algeria's population is under 30. Millions are fed up with a state-run economy that is flagging. Despite demonstrations, Mr. Bouteflika’s circle still plan to wheel him out for April’s elections. Meanwhile influential legislators from the opposition resigned from parliament to support the grassroots demands for change. The stakes are high. Europe counts the country as a major energy exporter, a counter-terrorism ally, and a partner in controlling migration flows from Africa. A young population with high expectations no longer accepts an authoritarian system. Repercussions could spread far beyond Algeria. See
A parliamentary committee tasked with amending Sudan’s constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for another term said it would indefinitely postpone a meeting to draft these changes. The president, a former army officer who came to power after a military coup, is facing unprecedented opposition to his rule, with street protests involving hundreds of people almost daily since mid-December over food prices, cash shortages and his 30-year rule. 75-year-old Bashir blamed protests on foreign ‘agents’ and challenged his opponents to seek power through the ballot box. Elections are expected in 2020. Sudan’s authoritarian government is ruled as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities, freedom of speech restrictions, press restraints and multiple church building demolitions. Human Rights Watch reported over 51 deaths in nationwide rallies being subdued by riot police.
On 24 June protesters forced two major shopping centres in Tehran to close after the Iranian rial dropped drastically, despite government attempts to control currency rates. On 25 June more protesters swarmed Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, forcing shopkeepers to close. The shutdown came in protest at the economic performance of the government. Protesters believe the administration does not want to hear the voice of the people. They have repeatedly warned the administration to shore up its economic team, but now protesters are saying, ‘we realise that this team must change. The administration must speak to the people honestly and answer questions about its economic performance.’ Rouhani's government has economy and unemployment challenges. Similar protests in early January saw 5,000 arrested and 25+ people killed when armed guards opened fire on protesters. There is widespread unease since America withdrew from Tehran's nuclear deal and intends restoring sanctions. Online videos show security forces firing tear gas at protesters outside a police station. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-26/thousands-protest-in-iran-over-failing-economy/9909184
On 21 April, 37 human rights organisations and NGOs made an urgent appeal to the UN Council of Europe on behalf of Armenia. The opening sentence was, ‘We, the undersigned civil society organisations, wish to bring to your attention the political situation in Armenia that is a clear confrontation between the existing autocratic corrupt regime and the hope for democracy.’ Until 2015 Armenia had a semi-presidential governance system with direct elections for the president to hold a maximum of two terms of service. To maintain power after the expiry of his two terms, President Sargsyan changed the constitution. Since mid-March civil society groups have campaigned to oppose his election of a prime minister with a life-long dictatorship (a common trend in former Soviet countries). The peaceful protests, started independently by different groups, quickly attracted wide support of tens of thousands of dissatisfied people, who are facing brutal attacks by police and criminal groups every day. See