November 12, 2022

Five protests over inflation, racism, injustice across globe in past weeks 

By Biodun Busari  

Peaceful protests remain a civil tool for people in democratic societies to register their grievances and protect their rights, and citizens across the globe are using them in the past few months.

One of the demonstrations was when civil society groups and youth activists, Thursday, staged a protest at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) Summit in Egypt over President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government’s authoritarian regime.

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Vanguard reports five recent big protests across four continents in the past few weeks and months. 

Africa: Protesters want higher wages, salaries, and slashed fuel prices in South Africa 

South Africa has been battling with sporadic protests since August over a series of economic and political defects bewildering the country. The people flooded the streets in August protesting the high cost of electricity and fuel which affected the economy 

The marches brought out people in their numbers as the Eskom, the country’s electricity supply commission battled with the power supply for weeks which plunged many parts of the country into darkness. The protests were at their peak in September but subsided in October. 

South Africans in a protest

On November 10, thousands of public servants again embarked on a one-day strike over wage demands, professional organizations said. The strike action was by one of South Africa’s most prominent public service unions, the Public Servants Association (PSA), which has some 235,000 members.

The conflict over public servants’ salaries ensued following the announcement of Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, last week that he would increase salaries by 3 per cent, while the unions were demanding 6.5 per cent.

According to the union, “the minister’s irresponsible attitude has degraded already fragile social relations and deepened the lack of trust” with the social partners.

South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said in an October budget presentation that the government could only afford a 3.3 per cent wage increase, well below the 7.8 per cent inflation rate in July.

Europe: In France, people protest the high cost of living 

Thousands of people trooped out on October 16, 2022, to protest in Paris, the France capital, in what was termed a “march against the high cost of living and climate inaction.” 

According to reports, the leader of the largest party in the alliance, France Unbowed Jean-Luc Mélenchon, spearheaded the demonstration.

“This is the great conjunction, it is we who begin it, with this march which is a huge success. The construction of a new Popular Front that will exercise power in the country when the time comes,” Mélenchon said.

For Frenchmen, the protests were mechanisms to fight off their country’s high cost of living and demand action to address climate change.

French protesters

The protests were re-engineered on Thursday, 10th November when thousands of persons took to the streets across France to demand higher wages to cope with rising energy bills and broader inflation.

The protesters included teachers, healthcare and railway workers as they mounted pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron who is facing signs of a political uproar.

Asia: Civilians protest to demand justice for slain girls in Iran 

It has been massive civil unrest in Iran since mid-September when a 22-year-old lady, Mahsa Amini who was arrested by the morality police over her alleged flouting of the country’s women’s dress code died in their custody.

Students, lawyers and activists, in their thousands, marched to 19 cities in Iran including the capital, Tehran to protest her death, calling for the removal and death of their President, Ebrahim Raisi as they burned his photos and destroyed infrastructural facilities.

The demonstrations have claimed 328 people while 14,825 persons arrested, as Raisi claimed the United States was behind the destabilisation of his country.

Iranian students protesting the death of Mahsa Amini

The protests got worsened when security agents invaded schools in late October and beat a 14-year-old schoolgirl Parmis Hamnava to death for allegedly tearing away the portrait of the country’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini out of her books.

Civil rights groups in the country were agitated over the incident that happened in Iranshahr in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province 

“Security guards stormed the school last Tuesday and searched the books of all the students, she had ripped pictures of Khomeini, for this crime, and they started beating her in front of other students. Her nose was bleeding badly, and she was taken to a hospital…She died on Wednesday and was taken to Zahedan for burial,” an eyewitness said.

North America: demonstrators against racism in the United States 

It was a gathering of a boisterous crowd of protesters in the Los Angeles City Council chamber towards mid-October calling for the resignation of three members involved in a closed-door meeting in which racist language was used to describe colleagues.

The protest was hinged on the leaked tape where Nury Martinez, the then Council President was having conversations with councilmembers — Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo including Labour leader Ron Herrera about how the city council district boundaries should be redrawn.

Americans protesting racist comments

Martinez bowed to pressure and resigned when protesters swarmed the entrance of her house demanding resignation, despite her unreserved apology. 

But, they were not satisfied and remained Oliver Twist as they shouted: “Resign now! This meeting cannot start! This house is out of order! Get out!” in front of the council building asking for de Leon and Cedillo to resign.

De Leon sat blankly in his seat, his eyes cast downward, as protesters called his name to exit the chamber. Other Councilmembers, however, urged the crowd to be quiet and allow the meeting to commence.

North America: Tell us how 43 students disappeared, protesters demand in Mexico

On September 26, 2014, forty-three male college students disappeared from their school, Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College after they were allegedly kidnapped by law enforcement agents in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

The 43 teaching students had arranged buses in the southern state of Guerrero to travel to a demonstration in Mexico City before they went missing.

As their usual annual remembrance of the victims, protesters took to the streets, in their hundreds, on September 26, 2022, to demand justice for the victims shouting “murderers!” as they hurled pebbles and homemade explosive devices at security forces at a Mexican military base, Mexico City during the protest.

Protesters demanding justice for 43 kidnapped students

The police in response fired water cannons at the demonstrators in a conflict which came a day after, where about a dozen police officers were wounded at a protest outside the attorney general’s office to demand justice for the students.

The victims’ relatives staged a rally outside Israel’s embassy, a day before, demanding the extradition of Tomas Zeron, a former top investigator wanted in connection with one of the Mexican worst human rights tragedies.