In South Korea, President Rhee Syngman of the Liberal Party won the March 1960 election with 88.7% of the votes. This implausible result was the result of election fraud: the day of the election the Liberal Party had stuffed ballots, switched ballots, and removed opposition ballots. On the eve of balloting, the police had also fired upon a group of Democratic Party supporters, killing eight. South Koreans in the city of Masan protested against the fraudulent election.
In January 2011, in the wake of the Tunisian revolution and in the midst of the Egyptian revolution, Yemeni students and youth began a yearlong revolution to oust the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for the past thirty years. This revolution did not come without great cost. More than 2,000 people were killed (including protesters, military defectors and children) and more than 22,000 people were wounded.
Nepal is a small Himalayan country that borders China and India with a population of about 20 million and with a famous ethnic and religious diversity. Established as a monarchy in the mid-18th century, its form of government was hotly contested in 1972 with the death of King Mahendra and the accession of his son, Birenda. The king maintained power but promised a national referendum on the panchayat system of councils, which then allowed the king almost total autocratic control.
There are few issues in the United States as divisive and bitterly fought over as the issue of abortion. In 1973 United States Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade that the issue of abortion was one of privacy, a right covered by the Constitutional right to privacy. After the ruling was handed down there was a firestorm of anti-abortion furor, with numerous death threats issued against Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion piece.
By 1964, a handful of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field workers had endured three years of continued repression as they challenged Mississippi’s racial discrimination. Only 6.7% of black Mississippians were registered to vote in 1962, the lowest percent in the country. In 1963 SNCC’s Mississippi operation was facing a stalemate. Since arriving in 1961 they had few concrete victories to show for their hard and dangerous work in the state. They had gotten few people to attempt to register, and even fewer were successful.
On February 4, 1976, a massive earthquake hit the highlands of Guatemala and displaced more than one million people. Indigenous groups from the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, and Quiche were hit the hardest and the weak response from the national government brought to light the racial inequalities affecting indigenous peoples.
In the 1950s, revolution was brewing in the Belgian Congo. Africans living in colonized countries felt the winds of change swirling as their mother countries in Europe struggled to stand back up after suffering often devastating defeats in World War II, championing the ideal self determination and freedom while continuing to oppress their colonies.
In 1936, Anastasio Somoza was elected president of Nicaragua. He ran under the the Liberal Nationalist Party, or PLN. He was elected with broad support among liberals in Nicaragua, although, soon after his election, small numbers of Nicaraguans started to gather in opposition to his presidency. In 1937, a small group of university graduates formed a dicussion group that was highly critical of Somoza; the members of this unnamed group would go on to found the Independent Liberal Party, or PLI - the organization that led the campaign against Somoza in 1944.
In July 1947, Costa Ricans related to the opposition political coalition launched a strike to protest the perceived partiality of the government in upcoming Presidential elections, and to call for the reversal of electoral and tax reform laws that had been enacted in 1946. Specifically, the strikers wanted assurances that measures would be taken to prevent electoral fraud.
Since gaining independence from France in 1958, autocratic rulers have controlled Guinea and made it one of the poorest countries in the world despite the fact that the country is rich in aluminum. The first ruler, Ahmed Sékou Touré, held office for almost 30 years until his death. Lansansa Conté seized power through a coup d’état after this and maintained his rule until 2008 when he also died. Then, Moussa “Dadis” Camara seized control of the government through another coup d’état on December 23, 2008. Though the government remained fairly stable throughout this tim
In 1983, Pakistan’s infamous Hudood Ordinances made it possible for the state to punish Safia, a blind 15-year-old victim of rape. Her crime? She was raped, but could not bring four male Muslim witnesses to prove it. The judge convicted Safia for adultery, ordered public flogging and sentenced her to three years in prison. Women’s activists from across Pakistan took to the streets to protest this judgment and the Hudood Ordinances that made the conviction possible.
Beginning with the cacao surge during the 1870s, the conservative landowners in the Sierra and liberal exporting bourgeoisie in the Coastal region had fought for control of Ecuador. Indigenous and lower class Ecuadorians quickly became marginalized, and were extremely frustrated by this by the early 1900s. By this time, Ecuadorian politics and politicians were known to be corrupt and both the lower and even upper classes of society were disenchanted. This was only exacerbated by tough economic times, as the 1929 US Stock market crash greatly affected the Ecuadorian economy.
The “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” in early August 1964 marked the beginning of dramatic escalation of the United States’ involvement in the civil war in Vietnam. As a close ally, Australia made a commitment to support the United States’ intervention in Southeast Asia. To support the war effort, Prime Minister Robert Menzies’s Liberal government introduced conscription for national military service on November 10, 1964. A few months later on April 29, Menzies announced that Australian troops, including National Service conscripts, would be sent to Vietnam to assist in the American war effort.
In December 2010, Bolivian president Evo Morales announced that the government would be unable to continue subsidizing fuel prices. In addition to changes in the cost of fuel, which increased by more than 80% without subsidies, the price of food and other commodities also skyrocketed in the same period. Morales reinstated the fuel subsidies after a week of widespread protest, but the price of food remained high.
According to the World Bank, about $1 trillion (USD) is paid in bribes annually worldwide; in India, alone, the economy is estimated to have lost half a trillion (USD) to corruption since her independence, and more than half of the country is estimated to have first-hand experience paying bribes or influence peddling.
Dominican activists challenge Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship (Fourteenth of June Movement), 1959-1960
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from the moment he won the fraudulent elections of 1930, up until his assassination in 1961. Through his more than thirty-year rule, Trujillo demanded strict obedience from all Dominicans, and had no qualms in using repressive actions to force compliance or eliminate dissent. In fact, Trujillo and his regime were accountable for more than 50,000 deaths.
The Kingdom of Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975. Morocco has retained control of the majority of the territory, with the nationalist Sahrawi (the ethnic group of the Sahara, mostly those from Western Sahara) Polisario Front, controlling only 20-25% of the land. The Polisario Front has declared the entire Western Sahara territory to be the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD), which has been recognized by close to 80 other countries and granted membership to the African Union.
Sahrawis campaign for human rights and independence in the first intifada, Western Sahara, 1999-2004
In 1975, the Kingdom of Morocco invaded the Western Sahara territory, which had previously been a Spanish colony. Morocco, led by King Hassan II, attacked just as the territory was expected to gain independence from Spain for the first time. Morocco’s actions disobeyed a United Nations Security Council resolution stating that the people of Western Sahara had the right to self determination. The nationalist Sahrawi (the ethnic group of the Sahara, mostly from Western Sahara) Polisario Front, which had been fighting the Spanish, then turned its attention towards Morocco and
After World War II, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie took pains to ‘modernize’ Ethiopia and bolster higher education. Selassie’s control of Ethiopia was total. As ‘supreme ruler,’ he abolished all political parties and banned groups from forming cohesive organizations. Selassie was surrounded by a small group of social elites that supported him, and although the government had a Parliament, it wielded very little power. Well into the 1950’s, Ethiopia lagged behind other African nations in education and many of the social elites sent their children overseas for higher education.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
Egyptian workers strike and occupy textile factory for better pay, representation, and conditions, 2007
Misr Spinning and Weaving Company is the largest public sector Egyptian textile company, employing 27,000 workers in the mid-2000s. The company is located in the Nile Delta town Mahalla al-Kubra and had a history of workers protests, the most significant of which occurred in December 2006 when about 20,000 of the company’s employees struck (see "Egyptian textile workers strike for bonuses and prrotest corruption, 2006").
Egypt became a British protectorate on December 14, 1914. During World War I agitation towards the British increased as all sects of the population united in their discontent. British rule caused Egypt’s involvement in the war to increase – 1.5 million Egyptians were conscripted in the Labour Corps and much of the country’s infrastructure was seized for the army – contributing to the dissatisfaction.
Madagascar gained its independence from French colonialism in 1960 after nearly 70 years under French rule. Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka was sworn into office on December 21, 1975, after a military coup ousted president Philibert Tsiranana, who had been in office since 1959. In his first term as president, Ratsiraka nationalized Madagascar’s banks, insurance companies and mineral resources, following a socialist model that was wrought with censorship and government repression. By the late 1980’s Ratsiraka’s socialist regime had impoverished Madagascar.
In 1957 A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin initiated a campaign to pressure the U.S. government to intervene for the civil rights of African Americans.
Randolph, 68, was the acknowledged “elder” among civil rights leaders, with a base in the labor movement. Rustin, 57, was a veteran civil rights and peace activist who had coached Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
Kefaya (meaning ‘Enough’ in Arabic), is the moniker for the grassroots coalition the Egyptian Movement for Change. Beginning in 2003, Kefaya was a group of Egyptians of various political parties and ideologies that first met to discuss the Egyptian political scene. The group became official after affiliated Egyptian intellectuals and political activists created and signed a petition demanding fair and transparent democratic presidential elections with multiple candidates in August 2004; the petition became Kefaya’s founding declaration.