Saturday, April 23, 2011

Widespread protests around the globe

Widespread protests around the globe*

April 21, 2011

Since December 2010, gigantic protest actions have been spreading like wildfire in countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The protests are focused on overthrowing repressive and corrupt regimes. A striking feature of these mass actions are the people's militant demands for decent living conditions in the face of grave crisis, widespread poverty and unemployment due to the implementation of imperialist globalization policies. Most of the protests were initiated by youth and students, but eventually spread to include workers, professionals and other democratic sectors.

The protests began in Tunisia. On December 28, a young man committed self-immolation to protest widespread unemployment, high food prices and state repression. This kindled the anger of the Tunisian people. In January, a people's uprising culminated in massive demonstrations that ousted President El Abidine Ben Ali. He was succeeded by Fouad Mebazaa.

Next to erupt was Egypt. Despite brazen repression, huge demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square went on for close to 20 days, forcing an end to Hosni Mubarak's 39-year rule. Protest actions once more erupted in April against the military council that took over to demand punishment for Mubarak and the implementation of democratic reforms.

In Bahrain, thousands of people have been protesting since February 14 to oust the monarchy and demand political and press freedom. The protests have grown despite the violent suppression. On March 15, martial law was declared. The day after, anti-monarchy demonstrations were brutally dispersed by the state, supported by troops from Saudi Arabia who came upon the Bahraini prince's request. Several rallyists were killed and injured as a result.

In Syria, protests against the Assad regime began on January 16. The people have continued their protests despite violent suppression by the regime. By February, local government reforms began to be implemented, including the resignation of a number of officials. Certain economic concessions have also been granted to the people.

In Yemen, protests erupted in mid-January against widespread poverty and unemployment and for changes in a constitution that allows the existence of a monarchy.

In Oman, protesters called for higher wages, more jobs and lower prices. The sheikh revamped his cabinet three times in an effort to quell dissent and launched programs that would allegedly create 50,000 new jobs. The sheikh also raised the wages of all workers.

In Algeria, various protests began in December 2010 and continued until February 2011. Similar protests were also held in Djibouti, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Morocco.

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