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.
The October 31, 2004, presidential elections in Ukraine pitted popular opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The incumbent president, Leonid Kuchma, had personally chosen Yanukovych as his successor, but their political party was losing popular support. Yushchenko, supported by a united opposition, was expected to win the election. However, the October 31 election yielded no winner, with each candidate receiving about 40% of the votes. At this point most opposition groups, such as the student group Pora, already suspected fr
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.
Estonians have long held a tradition of singing. Beginning in 1869, Estonians have held a song festival every five years called the Laulupidu during which thousands of Estonians gather to sing together.
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo campaign for democracy and the return of their “disappeared” family members, 1977-1983
Following a coup that ousted then-acting President Isabel Perón from power, Argentina’s armed forces established a military government in 1976, a year that marked the beginning of Argentina’s “Dirty War” period. Headed by General Jorge Videla, the new military junta dissolved Argentina’s Supreme Court, congress, and provincial governments, and implemented a government program known as the “National Reorganization Process.” This program sought to rid Argentinean society of perceived government subversives, and effectively institutionalized state-sponsored terror. Through th
In 1938, El Salvadoran president General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez proposed changing the country’s constitution so that he could continue holding his position beyond the end of his second term.
On September 11, 1973, a military coup forced the democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende out of power. After the coup Augusto Pinochet established himself as the leader of Chile and set up a military dictatorship with the heavy involvement of his army. During this regime, Pinochet used repressive measures to suppress opposition to his rule, and supported politics that divided any opposition groups. Pinochet moved the country’s economic system away from socialist policies towards a market economy, gaining the support of the pro-capitalist portions of the
By the end of World War II, the Soviet Union had invaded and taken over much of Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party officially came to power in February 1948, and under its rule dissidents faced persecution by secret police, censorship was enforced, Marxist-Leninist ideology was proclaimed mandatory in schools, and all schools, media, and businesses became the possessions of the state.
In order to strengthen their hold on political and economic power, the white settlers of British-controlled Northern Rhodesia sought to unite the British colonial territories of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland during the late 1930s and 1940s. This was a response to the growing strength of African organizations (e.g.
By the early 1990s, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda of the
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had been president of Malawi for thirty years, ever
since the country transitioned out of colonial rule. At the time, Malawi was a
single-party state in which political parties were illegal.
Tunisians overthrow dictator and demand political and economic reform (Jasmine Revolution), 2010-2011
Over the past several decades, high unemployment, high food prices, and widespread poverty have characterized much of Tunisia. Government corruption and a paucity of political freedoms have also painted its landscape, making it exceedingly difficult for Tunisians to express dissent against the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party. However, on 17 December 2010, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi doused himself in paint thinner and set himself on fire in front of the Sidi Bouzid municipal office in response to the confiscation of his produce stand, his violent treatment a
“The pulling down of the Berlin Wall began in Sopron,” stated Lothar de Maiziere, East Germany’s last prime minister.
On the outskirts of Sopron, a small town on the border between Communist Hungary and democratic Austria, they had a picnic – a most unusual picnic. The organizers wanted to “act out the future in the present.”
For two years prior to this campaign there was a violent struggle to oust dictator Gerardo Machado: running gun battles, bombings, political assassinations. The leading violent group agreed to a ceasefire in July 1933 to allow for mediation, but smaller groups continued with some attacks.
The Sudan has a history of popular uprisings to depose oppressive or disagreeable governments, prior to the 1985 insurrection. In 1964 the October Revolution consisted of a widespread general strike led by the National Front for Professionals. The organization joined forces with political leaders to create the United National Front (UNF) and, along with dissident military leaders, this coalition succeeded in dissolving the Abbud regime and transitioning to civilian rule.
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.
Sierra Leone is a West African country of 6 million people. Now a constitutional democracy, dictators and one-party governments ruled for decades and the people endured periods of civil war.
In 1996 the country had its first multiparty elections and freely elected its first civilian government in 34 years. Hope soared. The following year, on May 25, a group of young military officers led a coup that overthrew the government. The new government called itself the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
The 2006 general strike in Nepal was part of a larger democracy movement in the country. Nepal has had a historically monarchal government dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. In the 1940’s, political opposition rose, critical of the enduring, often unstable, autocratic rule and calling for democratic reforms. In 1951, Nepal instated the Nepali Congress Party, dissolving some of the monarchic hegemony.
By 2005 President Askar Ayakev had ruled Kyrgyzstan for 15 years. In his first 10 years as president he had been generally popular and well liked; but due to concerns about increasing corruption within his government and his family, Ayakev’s popularity began to fall. Parliamentary elections in February and March 2005 secured a majority of seats for the pro-government politicians that supported Ayakev. During the first round of voting on February 27, many opposition politicians had been removed from the ballot or disqualified in some way. During the second round
In 2000, Liberia’s second civil war broke out. Liberian President Charles Taylor and his military forces, who had taken over Liberia in 1989 during the first civil war, experienced attacks from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). LURD consisted of various anti-Taylor militant groups led by warlords who were not given a role in Taylor's government.
“I have decided to quit as president.”- Indonesian President Suharto, 21st May 1998
These words echoed across Indonesia, as students who had been occupying parliament for the past three days fell to their knees; while others cheered around television sets watching their president, in power for the past thirty years, resign.
Grenada under the dictatorship of Eric Gairy suffered from economic deterioration and widespread corruption. In the face of domestic repression, support for the Left built strength during events leading up to the creation of the New Jewel Movement (NJM). In November 1970, 30 nurses staged a non-violent protest demonstration against poor working conditions at St. George’s General Hospital, their place of work. They were joined by youth groups, trade unions, and school children. Police responded by teargasing demonstrators and arresting 22 nurses.
Beginning in 1981, Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt for over twenty-nine years. Though he ran for
presidential reelection several times, elections were marked by widespread
fraud, and opposing politicians were legally prohibited from running against
Mubarak until 2005. Virtually all key officials in government were from
Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP). Mubarak constructed a vast security
apparatus to control public dissent; in the 1990s, citizens would only whisper
his name for fear of reprisal. For his entire tenure as president, Egypt was in
Madagascar was officially proclaimed a colony of France in 1896, and gained independence in June 1960. For the first couple decades following independence, one-party rule and political turmoil, including violent and nonviolent struggle, characterized the country.
For a half-century prior to the Acehnese campaign, the Indonesian government had ruled Aceh, located at the northwestern end of the island of Sumatra. The Acehnese suffered a high level of human rights abuses at the hands of the Indonesian government. From the 1950s until 1998, an Acehnese group resisted using violence. But in the late 1990’s, their resistance, led by student activists, took the form of nonviolence in a series of rallies, boycotts and strikes.