Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)

Political dissident Young Sam Kim stages hunger strike to solidify the dissidents in pro-democracy movement, 1983

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

Doo Hwan Chun filled the power void in South Korea through his military coup right after the assassination of the former President Jung Hee Park in 1979. He became the president after amending the Constitutional Law that turned the presidential election into an indirect election—one that he could easily manipulate.

Nepalese force king to accept democratic reform, 'Jana Andolan' (People's Movement), 1990

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

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.

U.S. officials nonviolently intervene in South Korea to protect leading dissident Kim Dae Jung, 1985

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

South Korea experienced political turmoil in the decades following the Korean War under the rule of several autocratic leaders who severely limited political freedom in society. As S. Korea was a crucial ally against the expansion of communism, the U.S. government was wary of being openly critical of the corrupt S. Korean government. However, the U.S. no longer could ignore the violation of human rights in South Korea when Kim Dae Jung, a leading pro-democracy dissident, sought U.S. assistance in his return from exile to Korea in 1985.

Burmese citizens campaign for democracy, 1988

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

By the year 1988, political, social and economic life in Burma was under the repressive military rule of the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), headed by General Ne Win. Since the military coup in 1962, the Burmese had been subjected to extreme socioeconomic isolation and heavy state control that extended from the media and universities to social events and monasteries. Although citizens, and in particular students, protested throughout the 60’s, violent repression was enough to cease all opposition until 1987 when unrest began to stir once again within the Burmese population.

South Koreans win mass campaign for democracy, 1986-87

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

The massive South Korean nonviolent campaign against the tradition of authoritarian regimes happened only seven years after the notorious Kwangju Massacre of 1980—governmental mass violence that was intended to shut down completely the movements for social justice.

From 1980 to 1983 the government tried to “cleanse” the society of activists, purging or arresting thousands of public officials, politicians, professors, teachers, pastors, journalists, and students. Activists not arrested went quiet or continued their activities in low profile or secretive ways.

Filipinos campaign to overthrow dictator (People Power), 1983-1986

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president of the Philippines in 1965. Marcos was reelected in 1969 and when barred to run for a third term, he declared martial law and gave himself near absolute power. Marcos assumed full control of the military, dissolved congress, and had many of his political opponents and critics arrested. One of his more prominent critics had been Senator Benigno Aquino who was prepared to challenge Marcos in the 1973 election, had it occurred.

Pakistanis in Sindhi struggle for democracy, 1981-1984

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

In July 1977 Z.A Bhutto, the democratically elected president of Pakistan, was removed from power by the Pakistani military, which was at that point under the control of General Muhammad Zia-ul Haq. General Zia promised to hold an election within ninety days of seizing power, yet upon taking office he suspended the constitution and dissolved many of the country’s legislative bodies. Over the next years, Zia repeatedly postponed the promised national elections, leaving the country in the hands of a de-facto military dictatorship.

Nonviolent intervention in Philippines during military clash, 1986

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

The third party nonviolent intervention during the People Power revolution came about as a result of the turbulent political situation in the Philippines in 1986. After the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983, there were major protests throughout the Philippines attacking the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos (see “Filipinos campaign to overthrow dictator (People Power), 1983-1986”). These protests, combined with pressure from external forces forced Marcos to call for presidential elections on February 7, 1986.

Mongolians win multi-party democracy, 1989-1990

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
Soviet Bloc Independence Campaigns (1989-1991)
 

In 1921 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) came to power and soon aligned the country with the USSR. Until this democracy campaign in 1989, the MPRP ruled Mongolia through a constitutionally-sanctioned single-party government. By the mid-1980’s, pro-reform sentiments and movements were spreading in Eastern Europe, especially at the universities. However, Mongolians remained isolated from all of this except for the few students who could afford to study abroad in Eastern Europe.

Chinese students campaign for democratic reform (Tiananmen Square), 1989

Asian Democracy Campaigns (1980s)
 

During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.

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