Massive protests prompt Georgia to withdraw Russian-style ‘foreign agents’ law
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“The impeachment of Peru’s populist president has set off a political and constitutional firestorm, prompting nationwide protests against the government and creating a diplomatic rift with Mexico. Peru’s Congress has preliminarily backed a proposal that will allow for presidential and legislative elections in April 2024, two years ahead of schedule, according to the Associated Press.
Popular protests against the government have raged in Peru since lawmakers voted to remove President Pedro Castillo from office…Castillo, who emerged as the surprise winner of a heavily contested presidential election in July 2021, had already been the subject of two separate impeachment inquiries led by the opposition-controlled Congress over corruption allegations. After announcing he would dissolve the Congress and rule by decree, a move many observers decried as a “self-coup,” Congress moved expeditiously to remove Castillo from office, arrest him on corruption and treason charges, and install his vice president, Dina Boluarte, as president. The removal of Castillo immediately sparked nationwide protests, especially in the country’s interior and southern Andean regions where large sections of Peru’s indigenous and mixed-ancestry communities live.
Peru’s indigenous communities, which have largely felt neglected and dismissed by the political elite in the capital of Lima, have been at the forefront of these protests. To them, Castillo, who drew much of his electoral support from the interior and the Andean south, was a champion of indigenous interests, alleged corruption notwithstanding.”
“the Islamic Republic, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, executed 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari for the crime of “waging war against God,” or moharebeh in Farsi.
Shekari was the first prisoner to be executed due to the recent unrest, in what Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, head of the Norway-based organization Iran Human Rights, characterized as a “show trial without any due process.”
With Shekari’s execution — likely the first of dozens — the Iranian regime is reverting to a tried and tested playbook of executing political opponents and dissidents. But it’s not clear that the mass imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, and further possible state-sanctioned executions will deter the protesters who have for more than two months now defied crackdowns and curfews to call for an end to Khamenei’s regime.
It’s also not clear what success looks like for the protesters should they somehow manage to topple the regime that’s had an iron grip on the nation since the 1979 revolution — or how they would manage to do so in the first place.
The inciting spark for the now 11-week-long protests was the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16 while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Amini, a 21-year old Kurdish woman, was arrested while in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly; since her death, she has become a potent symbol of many Iranians’ contempt for the country’s oppressive theocracy.
The protests have gained momentum since they began in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, in Iranian Kurdistan, appearing in dozens of cities throughout the Islamic Republic despite the government’s efforts — including internet and mobile network disruptions, mass arrests, and civilian killings — to quash them.
There are some ways this protest echoes past movements, but there are also key differences — not just the longevity, but the degree of societal cohesion and solidarity, too. Women have led and become the public face of this movement — a particularly notable fact in 2022, given the ways that women have been repressed under the current regime.
All of that, however, doesn’t mean that this movement will bring down the Islamic Republic; decades of repression, a poor economic outlook, extremely limited opposition in the political establishment, plus the fact that the military and security service as well as the economic elite continue to throw their lot in with the regime make it difficult to imagine an alternative vision for the future of Iran.”
“So far, there’s no sign to suggest any significant damage to Xi’s position at the top of the Communist Party.
Nevertheless, it is the first major show of resistance from the public under Xi’s rule, and the grievances directed against the top of the Chinese government are too loud to be unheard.
Xi has made zero-COVID a personal political project. With the public now openly opposing the symbols of that policy — such as the strict PCR test requirements and mask regulations — he will no doubt be seen as personally liable for the public anger.
Ho-fung Hung, an academic at Johns Hopkins University specializing in China’s protest movements, says the government and society “are in the process of seeking a new equilibrium. There can be conflicts and instability in the process.”
Still, the timing could have been worse for Xi, if the protests had taken place before the 20th Communist Party congress last month, when he was confirmed in his position for a precedent-breaking third term.”
“The Iranian regime is struggling to crush a massive wave of nimble and durable protests, unlike any the Islamic Republic has faced in the past. The leaderless movement has grown in strength despite increasingly harsh crackdowns, relying on unprecedented solidarity between ethnic minorities, different religious groups, and men allied with protesting women.
The movement started in September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an ethnic Kurd from Saqez in northwest Iran, who was arrested in Tehran by the morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly and who later died in police custody. Protests in Saqez quickly spread to Tehran and other cities throughout the country. Now in their third month, the protests show no signs of stopping, despite the shocking violence security forces have deployed against the demonstrators, including savage beatings, mass arrests, and indiscriminate killings of protesters, including children.”
“more than 300 have been killed during the protests. That number includes roughly 50 children under 18, the New York Times’ Farnaz Fassihi reported last week. But casualties and arrests are difficult to track; social media and internet access have been severely curtailed, and foreign reporters can’t access the country. Thus far, five protesters are set to be executed for participating in the uprising.”
“Blocking highways is dangerous no matter the target of the protester’s ire. Canadian truckers recently used the same tactic to push back on vaccine mandates, creating a traffic bottleneck on the busiest international crossing on the continent and cutting off some people from their livelihoods. Whether you’re protesting COVID dictates from the government, climate change, or the issue du jour, consider that your demonstration will not win hearts and minds if it’s hurting people.”
“When Great Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, a condition of the transfer was that Beijing would allow the territory to maintain its own government until 2047. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never liked this agreement, and the COVID-19 pandemic provided the excuse to all but erase the “one country, two systems” distinction.
The CCP began its authoritarian assimilation of Hong Kong in 2019, when Beijing encouraged CCP loyalists in Hong Kong’s legislature to pass a law allowing extradition of residents to mainland China. That proposal sparked pro-democracy protests and a police crackdown in Hong Kong, which captured the world’s attention.
In June 2020, Beijing responded to the pro-democracy movement by requiring Hong Kong to implement a national security law that “introduc[ed] ambiguously defined crimes such as separatism and collusion that can be used to stifle protest,” as The New York Times put it. But the pandemic provided Beijing with an even bigger opportunity to suppress dissent.
Citing public health concerns, Hong Kong postponed its Legislative Council (LegCo) elections for a year. In the interim, Beijing changed LegCo election rules to reduce the number of directly elected seats and to require that candidates pledge their loyalty to mainland China.
With only Beijing-aligned “patriots” on the ballot, CCP loyalists swept the 2021 LegCo elections. Many leading opposition politicians went into exile, while others were jailed. Voter turnout was a paltry 30 percent—the lowest since the handover in 1997. By comparison, a record 71 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2019 district council elections. The high turnout was reportedly driven by opposition to the extradition treaty, and pro-democracy candidates won 85 percent of the available seats.
The pandemic also has facilitated suppression of pro-democracy protests. Every June since 1990, residents of Hong Kong had marched and held a vigil in memory of the Tiananmen Square dead. But in 2020, Hong Kong announced that it would extend social distancing restrictions until June 5, the day after the massacre’s anniversary.
Hong Kong’s COVID-19 rules banned public meetings of more than eight people, with a potential penalty of six months in jail. As a result, only a small vigil was held. Organizers nevertheless were arrested and sentenced to up to 14 months in jail. The sentencing judge remarked that they had “belittled a genuine public health crisis.””
“After a month of intense civilian-led protests over Sri Lanka’s deteriorating economy, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to appoint a new council on Friday to lead the formation of an interim government. The resolution would create a coalition made up of all parties in Parliament and would remove the grip of the Rajapaksa family dynasty currently ruling the country. At issue is the country’s economic future, which is in shambles after defaulting on payments on its mountain of foreign loans — estimated to be worth $50 billion — for the first time since the country gained independence from the British in 1948.
Signs of Sri Lanka’s impending economic crisis became increasingly apparent over the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic as food prices soared and power blackouts increased in frequency. Sri Lanka currently has about $7 billion in total debt due this year.
Many attribute Sri Lanka’s economic crisis to the mishandling of its finances by successive governments through mounting foreign debt and continued infrastructure investments. The Rajapaksa administration also implemented sweeping tax cuts in 2019, slashing the value-added tax (VAT) rate — the tax applied to imports and domestic supplies — from 15 percent to 8 percent, which contributed to a decrease in the country’s revenue.”