It is now a known story and a known fact that the whole world saw a new wave of change kicked off in Tunisia a few years back. The famous Arab Spring also materialised into a bigger wave of change which in 2013 has spread into some new territories with an endless call for change. Social media has always been a factor but 2013 saw this go even further in its role to provoke or mobilise demonstrators.
We were all surprised with the first protests of 2013 which took place in India for a month or so as a response to the gang-rape which had taken place in New Delhi. The demonstrations also turned violent as large crowds came out to demand justice to be done. On the other hand, on the other side of the Indian borders and nearing the end of the year, Pakistanis massed to call for an end to U.S. drone attacks which had become very common and frequent across the mountainous region close to Afghanistan. The protests there were also violent and NATO supply lines where shut down by the protesters.
Egypt was once more in the lime light during the Summer months, when Tahrir Square saw a new wave of mass protests in favour or against Mohammed Morsi, who was arrested in July as the military took over the control of the country. The establishment of military government was welcomed by most but feared by others. The supporters of Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood took out to the streets and protested (at times violently) against the military government. Retaliation from both sides was the main focus in the news for weeks.
Some other relatively smaller protests were in:
~ Latin America – the rise of protests in Chile were students voiced their anger against the hefty government income over the education system;
~ Turkey – in Istanbul protests took place against the removal of a historic park;
~ Russia – protests there took place after a controversial homophobic law was passed by the government, banning all forms of so-called “gay propaganda” – this before the Sochi Olympic Games taking place in winter.
The last major protest of the year took place in Ukraine as President Yanukovych took a political move toward Russia, which was considered as highly unfavourable by the Ukrainians who bravely took out to the frosty streets to show their disappointment and their wish for a closer ties with Europe.
Most of these issues were clearly not solved in 2013. However, being televised and attracting worldwide support has given a more positive push toward change in the direction which reflects the will of the people. Still, other major protests such as the ones in Syria (which has now turned into a full-blown civil war) have dragged across all of 2013 and is not yet showing signs of relief. 2014 has already started on a tense footing with the killing of a Libyan minister and the chances of a top military official in Egypt to run for President. And let us not forget the violence in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, which have erupted along religious and ethnic faultlines. Only time will tell what will come of these tense times.