New communication technologies and media platforms are not only raising awareness. They are also enabling movements in different countries to learn from and engage with each other. The leaderless pro-democracy protest movement in Thailand was connected to groups guiding similar efforts in Hong Kong. There is some concern, though, that the ease with which protest methods and tactics can be shared might obscure the amount of work required to organize effective movements that can successfully achieve political change. As a result, nascent efforts could splinter or fail because protesters are not adequately prepared to maintain them, particularly when they are challenged by government forces.
Meanwhile, governments are actively looking to contain the rise in civil resistance, deploying violence, as in Myanmar and more recently Iran, to crush peaceful protests. During the coronavirus pandemic, many countries used pandemic-related restrictions on gatherings as a pretext to curb demonstrators and arrest activists and journalists—a strategy deployed from Algeria to the Philippines. Other repressive regimes, like Russia, Belarus and Saudi Arabia, target dissidents for violence and abduction abroad, calling global attention to the practice known as transnational repression.
WPR has covered global democracy and social protest movements in detail and continues to examine key questions about what will happen next. How will governments respond to protests driven by the global energy and cost-of-living crises? Will protesters in Haiti succeed in bringing down a government linked to violent criminal gangs? Will Sri Lanka’s protest movement achieve meaningful reforms now that it has driven the country’s former president from power? Below are some of the highlights of WPR’s coverage.