By Tina C. ’23
From Hong Kong to Chile, and Iraq to Ecuador, you’ve most definitely heard about the political protests sweeping the world this year. As the year draws to a close, let’s summarize the year in protests, starting with the most famous one: the Hong Kong protests.
The Hong Kong Protests (June 9, 2019 – ) are an ongoing series of protests that originally stemmed out of the extradition bill, which put simply, meant that Hong Kongers could be accused of any crime, shipped to mainland China, and charged with crimes in the notorious Chinese prison system, where many who have opposed China have mysteriously ‘disappeared’. After a withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protests have still been going on, with protesters ordering for their Five Demands to be fulfilled, and not one less. Those five are:
- Full withdrawal of the extradition bill [withdrawn September 4th]
- A commision of inquiry into alleged police brutality
- Retract the classification of protesters as ‘rioters’
- Official pardons for arrested protesters
- Dual universal suffrage of the Legislative Council and Chief Executive
The revolts are still raging on. The police brutality has worsened, yet the Hong Kongers’ resolve only seems to strengthen, as they take to the streets day after day, chanting for freedom for all.
The Chilean Protests (October 14, 2019 – ) are a series of ongoing protests against problems like high costs of living, privatized healthcare and low pensions for the elderly. This protest began began taking shape before the 14th. Days before, the government had raised the expenses of the metro fare and electricity bills. Then, on the 18th, university students began to jump turnstiles and trash subway stations to protest, which eventually snowballed and escalated into the massive protests of millions swarming the streets. Furthermore, the protesters have called for the resignation of President Sebastian Piñera who has shown zero signs of giving in to the protesters’ demands.
The Iraq Protests (October 1, 2019 – ) are next on the list, caused by over sixteen years of corrupt law, shoddy public services and unemployment rates. Compared to the other protests, this is the bloodiest, with over 200 protesters killed and a curfew enacted. President Barham Salih has since promised political reform, and has promised to hold a new presidential election as he has been proven incompetent. The government has also promised to increase funding for services, but such efforts seem futile so far. Currently, access to various social media sites, VPNs, and internet connections for phones and computers have all been blocked. The Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, has also promised to resign as soon as a successor is named. Though the situation still seems dire, there is still hope for the Iraquis, both young and old, who are risking their lives for a better future.
Finally, we head to Lebanon, and look at the Lebanese Protests (October 17, 2019 – ). Three days before the protests really begun, a series of wildfires blazed through the Lebanese mountains were eventually extinguished by the Greeks and Jordanians as Lebanon’s firefighting helicopters were out of maintenance, leaving residents wholly unimpressed. Then the government proposed a series of taxes on tobacco, petrol, and voice calling on the popular messaging app, WhatsApp. Though the protests were little at first, it was enough to release all the pent up anger suppressed by the common Lebanese, a third of which live below the poverty line. These protests are still ongoing, with students walking out of class to join the protests that will surely affect their future.
2019 is the last year before we jump into a new decade. For many, this means turning over a new leaf, coming up with new goals, or maybe it just signifies a big change. In a sense, it seems fitting that this year was the year of protests all over the world. As the saying goes, out with the old, and in with the new. 2020 is just on the horizon, who knows what it will bring?
Further information on the protests can be found below:
Hong Kong Protests: