- Reuters/Pablo Sanhueza
- Protests can be a powerful political tool for enacting change.
- Currently, protests are happening in places like Hong Kong, Chile, and France, to name a few.
- Despite each demonstration stemming from vastly different issues, many have common threads: citizens want to express their discontent with their current governments, from the “yellow vest” protests in Paris to Indonesian protests against a draconian criminal code.
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Historically, protests have served as an outlet for marginalized groups to articulate their frustrations – and make their demands known. One such example is New York’s Stonewall riots, which kicked off the modern Pride movement and mainstream LGBTQ visibility.
Today, protests like the Global Climate Strike and Hong Kong’s ongoing mass protests are calls for politicians to change their policies. The climate strike, for example, drew over 6 million protesters around the world, making it the biggest demonstration against climate change in history.
Here are the protests currently happening around the world.
Ivan De Luce contributed to a previous version of this article.
In Hong Kong, a new extradition law sparked protests back in June, but the conflict is escalating.
- Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
Tens of thousands of protesters have been demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong since June. The protest started as a rallying cry against a new law that would try Hong Kong residents in mainland China, but has since become a pro-democracy movement.
Protesters have thrown petrol bombs, rocks, and acid at police, who in turn have sprayed tear gas. The protests reached a new level of violence after police shot one protester in the chest in early October, the first use of live rounds during the conflict.
Protesters are defying authorities by wearing “illegal” face masks and flocking to the streets chanting protest anthems.
A criminal code in Indonesia led to protests against its draconian laws, and the president’s second term faces ongoing dissent.
- Oscar Siagian/Getty Images
Last month, thousands of protesters in Jakarta clashed with police after a new criminal code was announced. The code would outlaw sex outside of marriage and set a jail sentence of six months for unmarried couples living together, among other laws.
Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters, most of whom were students. As a result of the protests, the Indonesian parliament delayed a vote on approving the code.
The protests were the largest since 1998, which led to the toppling of Indonesian president Suharto.
President Joko Widodo was inaugurated for his second term last weekend; The New York Times reported that protests were prohibited during the inauguration.
Widodo faces ongoing dissent going into his second term, with debate over the code ongoing and widespread pushback to laws that may weaken the country’s anti-corruption commission.
In the Netherlands, thousands of Dutch farmers continue to clog highways with their tractors.
- Vincent Jannink/Getty Images
On October 15, Reuters reported that Dutch police closed off The Hague’s central parliament square to protesting farmers on tractors – the third such recent protest.
The army supported authorities in blockading main routes to Parliament with large vehicles.
Dutch highways were first jammed with thousands of farmers driving their tractors to The Hague on October 1.
They came to protest claims from members of Dutch parliament that agriculture was responsible for high emissions, and that some cattle farms should be shut down. The farmers, in turn, said that the aviation industry was responsible for high emissions, but wasn’t getting the same share of blame.
According to Dutch automobile association ANWB, over 700 miles of traffic plagued Dutch roads at the peak of rush hour as the tractors descended on The Hague.
Several protests are ongoing in France, including an almost year long movement by yellow jacket demonstrators.
- Zakaria Abdelkafi/Getty Images
In addition to Dutch farmers, French farmers are also angry with their country’s agricultural policy. Farmers held a second mass demonstration on Tuesday, following an October 8 demonstration that filled major French highways with over 10,000 protesters.
Farmers are just one of several groups protesting the French government’s policies. After 48 consecutive weeks of protests by the “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) demonstrators, the protests show no signs of slowing down. During the Global Climate Strike in September, which drew tens of thousands of demonstrators in Paris, “yellow vest” protesters (and their anarchist counterparts, the “black bloc” protesters) turned violent, and were met with around 7,500 police to control them.
The protests, which were sparked by rising fuel taxes, have since spread to smaller cities, like the southwestern city of Toulouse.
Yellow vest demonstrators are nearing a continuous year of protest, and reportedly expect a large turnout on November 17, the movement’s anniversary.
Firefighters in Paris also took to the streets last week to protest working conditions, and were met with tear gas from French police. Reuters reported that firefighters – who are asking for better pay and benefits, as well as professional respect – also faced off against riot police.
The firefighters follow the thousands of Paris police officers that held demonstrations of their own earlier in the month. They protested over the wake of the rising suicide rate among French officers, which many attribute to the strain of containing the “yellow vest” protests for weeks on end. In 2018, 35 officers committed suicide in France. In 2019 so far, that number grew to 49.
Peruvians are blockading access to copper mines, while confusion surrounding the president’s government persists.
- Manuel Medir/Getty Images
The Peruvian government authorized armed intervention last week to unblock a protested copper mine, Reuters reported. Residents of the Andean area have been blocking the mining company’s access road for almost a month.
The mining protests come on the heels of larger protests over Peru’s governance.
Peru’s president, Martin Vizcarra, dissolved the country’s congress earlier in the month after months of efforts to eliminate corruption proved fruitless due to right-wing lawmakers stonewalling new policies. In response, the lawmakers attempted to have Vizcarra removed, naming Vice President Mercedes Araoz to take over as president. Uncertainty over Vizcarra’s future led to mass protests, although he remains president.
Protesters in Haiti called for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.
- CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images
An already tumultuous Haiti erupted into more violent protests on September 25, Azam Ahmed reported for The New York Times. Protesters called for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.
The country is also contending with food, oil, and power shortages.
The current round of protests originated in July 2018, according to the Times, when Moïse attempted to end fuel subsidies. He has since been dogged by corruption allegations over management of a Venezuelan oil subsidy program.
The Times reported that 30 people have died from the demonstrations, and at least 15 of which were killed by police officers.
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens are protesting government corruption.
- ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images
Protests over worsening economic conditions broke out across Lebanon on September 29, Bassem Mroue reported for the Associated Press. Protesters pointed to political leaders as the cause of economic problems.
In October, protests continued after the government proposed a tax on WhatsApp messages. The demonstrations turned violent after police used tear gas against citizens.
Lebanon has one of the highest debt ratios in the world, and, despite heavy investment, a myriad of infrastructure issues, according to the Associated Press.
Syria’s Kurdish population is protesting the removal of American troops.
Syrians have been protesting American soldiers leaving the country, which they say makes them vulnerable to Turkish forces. Some picketed as US troops departed, Newsweek reported.
There have been a number of protests following US President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to remove 1,000 troops from Syria. Following that removal, Turkish forces invaded Syria to fight off Kurdish forces – who previously partnered with US troops to fend off ISIS.
According to Newsweek, one sign aimed at the departing forces read: “To the US Army who are leaving northeast Syria now. Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them.”
Protests are expected to erupt in Iraq against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.
- HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
Renewed protests over Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi are planned for Friday, the BBC reports. The planned demonstrations will mark the first anniversary of Abdul Mahdi taking office.
Protests first broke out on October 1, and left two dead, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported that protesters were displeased with the government’s inability to improve public services and unemployment, as well as with Abdul Mahdi’s recent removal of popular counterterrorism chief Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi.
Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck at The Washington Post reported that police first fired tear gas, and then live ammunition, into crowds of protesters in Baghdad. In addition to the two deaths, 286 people were injured nationwide, according to the Post; 40 were on the security force.
In Israel, there are protests focused on police inaction in violence against Israeli Arabs.
With casualties against Israeli Arabs mounting, protests over police inaction continued in Israel, Haaretz reports. In the past two weeks, two members of the Israeli Arab community – Mahmoud Moufid Igbariyya and a 21-year-old man – have been shot and killed.
Haaretz reports that 75 members of the Arab community have been killed in 2019. Hundreds of protestors gathered last week outside of the police station in Ramla.
“Police for Jews, police for Arabs, racist police,” demonstrators chanted, according to Haaretz.
UAW workers have been on strike for two weeks in the United States.
General Motors members of the United Auto Workers have been on strike for 37 days – marking the longest labor action of its type since 1982, Business Insider reported.
Last week, the GM and UAW reached a tentative contract agreement, Business Insider reported. UAW workers remain on strike as members review the contract.
However, this morning, Tennessee workers voted down the contract, according to The Detroit News.
A wave of protests hit Chile in October. Chileans are calling out increasing inequality, stagnant wages, and rising oil prices.
The protests in Chile began in early October after the government raised subway fare, spurring high school students to jump turnstiles and form a social media movement. The New York Times reports that while the economy is better than its neighbors in South America, middle class Chileans feel abandoned and ignored by their billionaire president.
Protests turned violent: After citizens vandalized stations and broke train windows, the Chilean president Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency and suspended the subway.
By October 19, 180 people had been arrested and 57 police officers were injured. Eleven people have died so far as a result of the riots.