Five places where people were protesting this week

Five protests that happened this week

It may have been just another week in lockdown for most of us, but across the world, thousands of people have been taken to the streets to fight  for different causes. We’ve looked at 5 protests that happened this week that you should know about. By Marta Portocarrero

1. Beirut, Lebanon 🇱🇧

Where are we at?

The Lebanese people keep protesting amid growing anger following the devastating explosion. The blast killed more than 200 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Thousands have taken to the streets of the capital, Beirut, in protests against the government, who demonstrators accuse of having failed them.

After three consecutive nights of violent clashes with the police, the country’s cabinet resigned.

PM Hassan Diab blamed the blast on years of endemic corruption, but avoided taking responsibility for the deep economic crisis the country has plunged into.

Some quick background…🤓

Last year, there were also protests against corruption in the government. Back then we talked to Farah, a young Lebanese woman, who told us why people were protesting.

Farah shares her thoughts on the anti-government protests from last year.

Last week’s explosion in the port has exacerbated the Lebanese’s need for social reforms and, according to experts, the mass resignation is unlikely to remove the heat from protests.

Next steps:⏭️

  • A new PM will have to be appointed – but in Lebanon this happens under a sectarian system, which many criticise will only put a select elite into power.
  • The UN World Food Programme will be sending 50,000 tonnes of wheat flour to Beirut to “ensure there is no food shortage in the country”.
  • The UK has pledged a further £20m to help the victims of the explosion. The country has already donated £5m in aid.

2. Belarus🇧🇾

Where are we at?

Belarus’ opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, fled the country to Lithuania for her and her family’s safety. Thousands have continued to protest against the “rigged” elections, demanding President Lukashenko’s resignation.

Last Sunday, protests erupted in the capital Minsk when exit polls showed the current President, Alexander Lukashenko, winning almost 80% of the vote.

Tikhanovskaya, a housewife who entered the race after her husband – a popular blogger – was jailed and prevented from running, received less than 7%.

Protests have been turning increasingly violent: police used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowds. There have also been reports that they have fired live ammunition on demonstrators.

As of this Friday (14th August) two people have died and dozens have been injured. At least 100 people have been arrested.

Some quick background…🤓

Alexander Lukashenko has been in power since 🤓 and is called “Europe’s last dictator”.

He has exerted authoritarian control over the country in a style reminiscent of the Soviet.

His presidency has sparked a wave of protests in recent months: mainly when he announced his bid for a 6th term. He also banned two opposition candidates from entering the race last month.

The consequences🙅‍♂️

The massive police crackdown has prompted a warning of possible European Union sanctions.

What next?⏭️

  • If Lukashenko remains in power, it would be his most trying presidential term yet, and experts say quite possibly his last.
  • It’s also unclear how Belarus is supposed to restart its economy following sanctions from the West.
  • Russia won’t give Lukashenko enough money to restore the public’s trust.
  • A new wave of police repression is expected, but the movement’s place in Belarusian society is now undeniable.

3. Ethiopia 🇪🇹

What happened?

At least 10 people died in clashes against security forces in the southern region of the country.

The protests were sparked by Sunday’s arrest of local officials and activists seeking a new autonomous region for the Wolaita ethnic group.

They want their own state, which would give them greater powers over security and taxation.

Some quick background…🤓

Ethiopia currently has 10 states and around 80 ethnic groups. Its federal system allows any ethnic group to demand a referendum on establishing their own autonomous region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018, introduced democratic reforms that included holding one such referendum last year.

But Abiy has struggled to reign in the forces he unleashed as regional strongmen build their bases with appeals to ethnic nationalism.

In June, Hachalu Hundessa, a famous Oromo protest singer, belonging to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, was shot dead, prompting weeks of unrest in which 166 are believed to have died.

4. Bolivia🇧🇴

What happened?

Demonstrators have blocked more than 100 roads in protests against repeated delays for a rerun of last year’s contentious election. The result in October saw the leftwing President, Evo Morales, leaving the country.

Electoral authorities postponed elections originally scheduled for May for the third time, citing the need to avoid a projected peak in coronavirus infections.

The roadblocks were carried out by Bolivia’s main workers’ union and indigenous and campesino movements allied to Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) and brought the country to a standstill for six days.

The government blamed the demonstrators for causing the death of at least 31 people by blocking the transport of oxygen to the country’s hospitals, the blockades.

Meanwhile, the Mas signalled it would accept an intermediary date for the elections, but the union federation insisted it would remain in the streets. They say that the interim government is seeking to retain power indefinitely by constantly postponing elections.

Some quick background…🤓

Last year, massive protests against alleged electoral fraud saw President Evo Morales stepping down and seeking exile in Mexico.

Jeanine Áñez, a rightwing senator came to power after Morales and promised fresh elections within 90 days. She later declared her own candidacy for president.

Since then, Bolivia has become increasingly polarized. The country is currently dealing with rising numbers of coronavirus (more than 93,000 people have been infected), a poor health system and a deep economic recession.

5. Thailand 🇹🇭

What happened?

Thousands joined student-led anti-military government protests in a university in Thailand. They were protesting against a powerful monarchy that reigns in the country.

Over the recent weeks, high school and university students have demanded the government’s dissolution and democratic reforms. They also called an end to intimidation of activists and for the constitution to be rewritten.

Some quick background…🤓

Anger has been rising since the 2014 coup that saw Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha seize the power. Since February, students have protested almost daily, but had gone into hiatus until mid-July due to coronavirus concerns.

Remarks against the monarchy are very unusual in Thailand. The country lèse majesté laws, meaning that critics of the royal family can face up to 15 years in prison.

What could happen next?⏭️

It’s hard to predict. If the government allows criticism to pass, it can undermine the status quo that keeps them in power.

But cracking down hard on the students could also instigate further protests and intensify scrutiny of the monarchy.

Bigger protests are planned for Sunday in the capital, Bangkok.

Hotspots to watch out for:🔎

  • South Sudan: clashes between army and civilians killed 127 people.
  • Mali: anti-government protesters demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
  • Mozambique: fighters captured a heavily-defended port in the north of the country.
  • Gaza: Israel launched new raids.

Is there something happening around the world that you think we should cover? Let us know! Email: marta@thisumuchiknow.news or message us on Instagram