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Protests Worldwide - February 2021

Protests Worldwide Newsletter
Protests Worldwide - February 2021
By Protests Worldwide Newsletter • Issue #2 • View online
February pretty much ranged from some of the least expected protests in Myanmar, with still few reasons why the military coup would have advantages for military leaders, to some of the most expectable protests in Spain, where authorities decided to arrest a perfect identification figure for a multitude of existing political conflicts. And somewhere, there was also Rihanna.

Myanmar Coup, Protests, and international confusion
February started off with unexpected news: A coup in Myanmar, in the middle of a pandemic, with fairly limited rationale behind it. The military lost the last election, since it generally enjoys little electoral support, but ensured its influence on politics through constitutional provisions such as assigining a quarter of parliamentary seats to the military, regardless of election results. This gives the party a veto to any constitutional changes. Yet, the ruling NLD’s electoral success and popularity seems to have worried the military enough to cause a direct intervention, showcasing its strength - and willingness to engage in direct action.
The public reaction has been…unkind, to say the least. Despite curfews and massive repression, hundreds of thousands participated in what looks like the largest protests of this generation. This includes possibly one third of the public sector going on strike, possibly (you may notice a pattern in my language here) causing major pressure on the military’s capacity to govern. Of course, numbers are heavily contested and reliable reports rare, but it looks like the protests enjoy broad mass support. Furthermore, they seem remarkably organized despite the crackdown - not surprisingly in a country with major mass movements in the past and a widely popular party which was in government until before the coup.
Navalny Protests shift gears
Despite last months relative success in mobilizing protests against the Russian government following Alexei Navalny’s arrest, protests seem to have mostly come to a halt. After Navalny’s verdict, where he appeared to attempt and position himself as a serious antagonist who an also appeal to more conservative Russians, his supporters initially stopped their protests. Rather than risk mass arrests, weakening their organizational capacity, they would prepare for this year’s parliamentary elections in September. They did later conduct Valentine’s day protests, to maintain a degree of mobilization while avoiding major spots of repression, but it seems like Russian protests have entered a new stage regardless. On a sidenote, Amnesty International stripped Navalny of his “prisoner of conscience” status due to racist comments in a move that cause wide controversy: His statements would very much constitute hatespeech in most countries, yet the decision plays into the hands of the Kremlin.
Turkish Student Protests continue
Protests against the appointed new rector of Boğaziçi University continued, despite arrests and prosecution. There seems to be a generational aspect to it, as protests are not limited to campusses and encompass young people disillusioned with president Erdogan - although academic autonomy remains a key issue.
Worldwide Farmers Protests
While the Indian farmers protests came to a stalemate with the government (and somehow Rihanna is involved), organizing protest camps and blockades, other countries are facing their own versions. In Pakistan, for example, farmers seem directly inspired by their neighbours and started planning similar protests for March. While Pakistani farmers are deeply troubled by low prices, high expenses and the effects of both Covid-19 and climate change, they are also heavily fragmented and facing a state that has been closely watching how India dealt with their protest movement. Connections across the border could lead to Pakistanis adopting the Indian counterpart’s strategies.
Unrelated farmers protests also took place in Europe, where German farmers took their trucks to Berlin in protest against governmental regulation of pesticides. In France, meanwhile, citizens of Martinique protested the consequences of past pesticide use: Despite over 90 percent of the local population suffering from poisoning as a result, a looming statue of limitations may hurt their compensation case and prevent accountability.
Spain faces public backlash after arresting rapper
Quite ironically, Spain is facing major protests and riots after arresting a rapper…for allegedly glorifying terrorism. Pablo Hasél apparently tweeted about anti-fascist groups who, during the Franco-regime, fought the fascist state violently. This resulted in a nine month prison sentence (as well as a huge fine for insulting the monarch, almost as if rappers lack respect for such authorities). Oh, and did I forget that authorities remembered those tweets from years ago in Catalonia, which is was not only subject to especially huge repression during the Franco-years, but also is seeing a major separatist movement which is picking up steam recently? Well, you might assume that this makes for a boiling pot waiting for someone to add fuel to the fire, and you would be right. Free speech, youth, austerity, regionalism and antifacism made for a great melange of issues resulting in alot of anger and protests.
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