Why are these regions facing mass protests?
Mass protests and demonstrations are a part of public life. A demonstration is an action by a group of people against a cause of concern. It consists of the walking of people in mass march formation or a rally where people have gathered to hear a speaker.
They may be violent or nonviolent; many times involving blockades and sit-ins.This is a form of public viewpoint considered as a grievance over social injustice.
There have recently been protests in three regions of the world over issues concerning the general public-
Abortion protests in Poland-
Since the 22nd of October 2020, thousands of people in Poland are protesting in five hundred and eighty cities and towns. The demonstrations started due to a decision by the country’s Constitutional Court in Warsaw which has narrowed access to abortion for the women. It is being termed as “Women’s strike” and people are also calling it a revolution.
Abortion is allowed in Poland; if the pregnancy is due to rape, incest, the woman’s life is in danger or the fetus is affected by severe congenital defects. The court decision on the 22nd October removed the last of the three condition from the list.
At first the activists were hesitant to call for a protest due to the corona pandemic but there was much anger and resentment among the women. Protesters undertook a spontaneous march from the courthouse to the headquarters of the ruling party, and then to the house of the Party’s leader, Jarosław Kaczyński.
As word spread on social media, thousands of people joined the march over its three-hour duration.
The marches and acts of civil disobedience have continued since then. Marta Lempart has become the public face of the protests. In 2016 when a ban on abortions in almost all circumstances was proposed as a bill in parliament, Lempart called for a protest where the Polish women marched through the streets of many cities and towns wearing black dress.
Lempart’s efforts drew thousands of people who had never been involved in political activism into the streets in what came to be called the “black protests”. The parliament buckled under the public pressure.But they were nowhere close to the scale of this year’s protests.
The scale of movement is such and with half a million people following the women’s strike page on social media, it has become very difficult to track and respond to comments. Youtube, Instagram and TikTok have proved essential in helping protesters organize.
The government has since then delayed implementing the decision, but the protests are going on. The goal of the protesters now is to bring down the government of the right-wing Law and Justice party.
Farmers protest in India-
The Indian farmers protest is against the three farm acts passed by the parliament of India in September 2020. Farmer unions and the opposition parties say that these are “anti-farmer laws” and would leave the farmers at the mercy of the corporates.
The government however says that these acts will make it effortless for farmers to sell their produce to big buyers.
As soon as the acts were introduced unions began holding local protests, and finding inadequate response from the government the farmers from nearby states decided to move to Delhi, the capital of India for further protests.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to prevent the farmers from entering Delhi; but by 30th November 2020, around 2,00,000 farmers had reached the borders of Delhi.
There are over 50 farmer unions protesting and the transport unions representing 14 million trucks drivers has come out in support of the farmers, threatening to halt the supply of commodities in some states.
In 2019, it is estimated that 10280 farmers had committed suicide due to the high debt levels.
There are thousands of farmers present at the outskirts of Delhi; various provisions of tents and other medical facilities like medical stalls, dental camp, library and temple have sprung up.
Dental camps are providing tooth retraction, cleaning and filling facilities. Solar power mobile charging points have been provided. Various nonresident Indians have provided aid, food and dry fruits.
The farmers demands include-
· Convene a special session of parliament to repeal the farm laws.
· Make minimum support price a legal right.
· Cut diesel price for agriculture by 50%.
· Implement Swami Nathan panel report and peg minimum support price at least 50% more than weighted cost of production.
· Assurance that conventional procurement system would not be done away with.
· Withdrawal of cases against, and release of farmer’s leaders.
· Removing electricity ordinance 2020.
Protests in the Arab World-
Four countries United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco have signed agreements with Israel to normalize relations. Two Arab countries Egypt and Jordan had already recognized Israel long ago. So there are now six states in the Middle East that have an established diplomatic relationship with Israel.
The reason for the Arabs withholding recognition of Israel was that it would provide leverage for a deal with the Palestinians. But the leverage has not worked and a number of Arab states are now pursuing other priorities.
The Trump administration has been providing a helpful quid pro quo to the Arab states for their recognition of Israel. The UAE got $23 billion arms package, Sudan was given financial assistance and removed from the States sponsors of Terrorism list and Morocco got US recognition for its claim over the disputed Western Sahara.
But this has led to protests among the public in the Arab world. Thousands of protesters gathered in the Gaza strip to protest against the US plan with banners “Palestine is not up for sale”. They say the Palestinians have not been consulted and have not agreed to the peace plan.
Palestinians have been critical of the normalization deals saying the Arab countries have set back the cause of peace by abandoning a longstanding demand that Israel give up land for a Palestinian state before it can receive recognition.
There have been protests in Morocco too. Despite the government ban against large gatherings due to Corona virus, a large number of people gathered outside the Moroccan parliament to denounce Arab countries for their normalization of relations with Israel.
Protesters in Morocco’s capital of Rabat waved Palestinian flags decrying the deals as a treason. The protesters also burnt a mock Israeli flag.
In Tunisia many people staged a protest outside the embassy of United Arab Emirates against the Gulf state’s deal to normalize relations with Israel.
“Palestine is Arab” and “Victory for Gaza” were the banners waved by the demonstrators during the rally.
The right to demonstrate peacefully is guaranteed by the international conventions; the articles 21 and 22 of the International Convention of the Civil and Political rights.
Protests and marches are mostly nonviolent and police and military authorities use non lethal weapons such as rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas to deal with them. The confrontation can go on for a long time until the protesters and government decide to sit down and iron out the differences.