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Protests Worldwide - April 2021

Protests Worldwide Newsletter
Protests Worldwide - April 2021
By Protests Worldwide Newsletter • Issue #4 • View online
Protests in April were marked by repression: In Russia, opposition groups were banned, in Thailand jailed, and in the U.S. legal killings of protestory may become feasible through Republican-sponsored legislation.

Navalny supporters mobilize in last-ditch effort
Ongoing conflicts between the Russian government and its critics have steered towards yet another escalation: Tens of thousands protested across the country to demand release, even though the last months saw massive repression and central squares in major cities were closed off by police. Protesters were driven by the critical health condition of Navalny and plans to ban organizations associated with him, in a crushing blow to Russian opposition groups. Such a ban took effect later and may become permanent. Yet, recent protests have seen protests well beyond Navalny’s base in Western cities, raising doubts over how effective it would be at curbing spontaneous anti-government protests such as the Tik-Tok protests ealier this year.
Family feud, coup, repression in Jordan
The beginning of April brought rumours of a coup in Jordan. As news slowly came out of the country, another image emerged: That of a ruling family curbing dissent in its own ranks through arrests, and a protest movement challenging the existing system despite massive repression. It remains unclear what exactly happened, but the Jordanian ruling family has seen tensions between Abdullah and his half-brother Hamza, ever since the former replaced the latter as his successor. Hamza, now without a path to power, became a major critic of his brothers, building ties to opposition groups. With coup allegations against him, that kind of criticism is now officially impossible - that is, of course, unless ongoing protests in Jordan become large enough to empower vocal critics.
Protests against Patrice Talon
Elections in Benin saw protests against incumbent president Talon, who had promised to run for one term only, yet reversed this decision and curbed opposition against him. Opposition parties called to boycott the election, and observers reported irregularities - with opponents of the president rallying against him across the country. Unsurprisingly, Talon was re-elected with 86 percent of the vote - a result which observers put in the context of an ongoing authoritarian turn.
Loyalist riots
Fears of escalating violence in Northern Ireland followed Easter protests. During a week of protests, a bus was hijacked and set on fire. Protests came to a halt following Prince Philips death on April 9th. Loyalists in Northern Ireland object to a Brexit which is set to establish border checkpoints to England. This in turn threatens the Good Friday Agreement, which includes free travel across the Irish border.
Kill the Bill
Following last month’s protest against police violence in the UK and a controversial bill curbing protests and strengthening police, “Kill the Bill” protests emerged. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, they have kept momentum, resulting in the largest protest yet leading up to May Day. Protesters across the UK indicated that they see the bill as a fundamental issue which violates civil rights, uniting multiple social movements in opposition against it.
Bride Kidnapping protests
In Kyrgyztan, protests against the abduction and killing of Aizada Kanatbekova highlighted bridal kidnapping. About 500 people gathered - not only in anger at the practice, but at police inaction or incapacity to track down the killer, despite the kidnapping being on camera. Bridal kidnapping has long been a contentious issue in Central Asian countries, with most experts highlighting sociopolitical context of the practice - highlighting the impact of governmental (in-)action.
Thai protesters enter Hunger Strike
Thailand’s pro-democracy movement has seen lower turnout over the recent months. What started as major protests last year has now become a small movement as Covid-19 and increasing repression based on a law which prohibits criticism of the monarchy reduce mobilization. Activists have now entered a hunger strike after being denied bail, with their health status quickly deteriorating.
Mobile Phone protests in Malawi
Hundreds protested rising mobile phone prices in Malawi, which activists describe as becoming a luxury good. Malawi is the fifth most expensive country for mobile data - with the four most expensive being island nations. Mobile phones play a major role in countries without viable broadband connections.
Protests against police-violence in U.S.
Two cases of police violence caused renewed protests against politice brutality: The killing of 13 year old Adam Toledo in Chicago and of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis. Across the U.S., activists took to the street. This is almost one year after Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd during an arrest - also in Minneapolis. His highly anticipated trial resulted in a guilty verdict, with the sentence still pending. Republican legislators, meanwhile, found their own unique way of dealing with police violence: Bills which focus on criminalizing protests, including a law legalizing cars driving over protesters, have been brought forward in multiple states. Legislation which makes violence against protesters easier seem unlikely to mollify activists protesting police brutality.
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