Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has spent almost two decades as a quasi-authoritarian state with the ruling Republican Party controlling most of its political, economic, and social institutions. Serzh Sargsyan became President in 2008 and under his rule, Armenia endured slow economic growth, high unemployment rates, and corruption.
Following the assassination of his father, Joseph Kabila took power and the position of President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 26 January 2001. He subsequently won re-election in December 2011, with charges of an illegitimate election surrounding the outcome. On 17 January, 2015, students began mass protests over an announcement that President Kabila would remain in power until the government completed a census. This began the nonviolent protest movement to remove President Kabila from office and prevent him from remaining in power for a third term.
Cambodia’s garment industry, which is responsible for over 80% of the country’s total exports, is notorious for its frequent cases of labor exploitation and worker abuse. Garment workers, of whom 90% are female, are forced to endure intimidation tactics, bribes, and short-term contracts -- all of which work to prevent unionization.
From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala was embroiled in a civil war fought between the government of Guatemala and the rural poor. In the early 1980s, under the leadership of military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the Guatemalan military massacred 250,000 indigenous Mayans leaving deep wounds in Guatemalan society, which have contributed to the high murder and crime rates that continued to plague the country. Additionally, the government was famously corrupt; one non-governmental organization asserted that up to thirty percent of the annual national budget was lost to corruption.
The British commissioner governed the state of Mysore in southern India from 1831 to 1881 when the administration reinstated the pre-existing Wodeyar (Wadiyar) Dynasty. Mysore became a princely state with the Wodeyar Dynasty ruling under the paramountcy of the British. The reigning Maharaja (king) during the Indian independence movement was Jayachamaraja Wodeyar. On 15 August 1947, India gained its independence from the British Raj.
In October 2013, Blaise Compaoré had ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years. However, the Constitution would have prevented him from running for President again in the 2015 elections. Compaoré had manipulated term limits in the past before, and he survived soldiers’ mutinies and popular protests calling for his resignation in 2011. In October 2014, he planned to change the Constitution to allow him to run for office again.
In 1990, Fernando Collor de Mello became the first elected President after 29 years of military rule. He narrowly won his election as a center-right candidate and campaigned on fighting corruption, fighting inflation, and defending the poor. He tried various economic policies to reduce inflation and increase foreign investment but was unsuccessful in turning the economy around. His austerity measures created significant opposition.
In 2004 the Ukrainian people heard reports that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych rigged the presidential elections so he could step in as Ukraine’s new president. The people’s campaign of strikes and protests forced a re-run election that was fairly contested, and was won by opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko. [Ukrainians overthrow dictatorship (Orange Revolution), 2004.]
The Republic of the Maldives is a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka. The country is threatened by becoming completely covered by the sea because of climate change.
Student activism in Thailand had grown during the 1960s as the number of students in university increased rapidly. In 1971, the Thanom Kittikachorn government launched a coup and restored authoritarian rule by disbanding the national legislature, terminating the 1968 constitution, and proclaiming martial law. On 15 December 1972, a new constitution was established that gave Prime Minister Thanom and his National Executive Council extensive power, but promised to return the country to democracy as soon as the communist threat was eliminated.
In 1992, Joseph E Estrada ran for Vice President on the National People’s Coalition ticket. Although the party’s presidential candidate, Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., lost the election to Fidel Ramos, Estrada won the vice presidential contest. He served as Vice President for 6 years leading the Anti-Crime Commission and was also responsible for a number of high-profile crime arrests in the Philippines.
In 2001, Thaksin
Shinawatra was elected the Prime Minister of Thailand and was the first one to
serve a full term in that role. In March 2005, Thaksin was reelected in a
landslide victory, with more than 60% of the popular vote. As the leader of the
Thai Rak Thai (TRT, Thais love Thais) party, Thaksin’s neo-liberalist, populist
policies made him very popular with the majority of Thais, especially the rural
poor. However, his autocratic style, numerous human rights violations and favor
towards privatization created opposition from urban elites, NGOs, and royalist
During the fall of 1968, Ayub Khan celebrated his tenth year as president of Pakistan. In honor of this anniversary, he declared his reign as the “Decade of Development,” an action that sparked an outbreak of protests against the state.
Much of Pakistan was already discontent with the Ayub regime. Following the 1965 war with India, Pakistan experienced a huge economic gap. The working classes faced the burden of this disparity.
Retired Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez won the 2002 presidential elections in Ecuador after emerging as a popular ally of the poor during the years following a 2000 coup d’etat. A series of decisions followed his becoming president that increased the country’s International Monetary Fund debt and approved exploitation of oil on indigenous land.
After becoming independent from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh had a long history of military rule. Its first two leaders, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman were both assassinated in military coups and their regimes were followed by military dictatorships. The two main Bangladeshi political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) were formed by these two leaders and later led by their daughter and widow respectively – Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia. In 1982, General Hussain Muhammed Ershad seized power in Bangladesh during a bloodless coup.
In 1989, Bulgaria was part of the "wave" of nonviolent revolts against domination by the Soviet Union and its Communist-led governments in Eastern Europe (see Bulgarians campaign for democratic reforms and multi-party rule, 1989-90).
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.
Bolivia’s transition to a democratic government began in 1978 when then military dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez stepped down after international and internal pressure for Bolivia to hold democratic elections. While the Democratic Popular Union (Unidad Democratica y Popular, UDP), led by Hernan Siles Zuazo, won the 1978 elections, Juan Pereda Asbum, Banzer’s chosen successor, launched a military coup and declared the elections invalid.
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.
Dissatisfied with lack of democracy and the Soviet Union’s influence on their country, Ukrainian university students in L'viv established the Student Brotherhood in March of 1989. In December students in the capital city of Kiev formed the Ukrainian Students Union.
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.
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.
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 the late 1980’s, Poland was nearing the end of almost 40 years of postwar communism as part of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Out of labor organizing earlier in the decade emerged Solidarność (Solidarity), the first non-communist party-controlled trade union federation in a Warsaw Pact country (see Polish workers general strike for economic rights, 1980). Shortly after the rise of Solidarity, the organization expanded into a larger social movement, appealing for economic reforms, free elections, and increased political participation of trade unions.
Agitation in Iran was visible by May 1977 in predominantly intellectual circles. A group of lawyers—upset by the government’s interference in the judiciary—drafted a strongly worded manifesto chronicling the legal abuses that had occurred under the Shah’s regime. Poets formed a Writers’ Association to call for an end to censorship and the activity of SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. A National Organization of University Teachers began fighting for academic freedom while university and seminary students called for academic freedom in the schools.