By Jeanne Menjoulet from Paris, France – Climate change protesters march in Paris, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75947568
The world is exploding with protesters and demonstrators protesting and demonstrating about anything and everything. Here are some examples.
Extinction Rebellion (XR): a movement that started in Stroud, a quiet market town in England, has now become worldwide – London, Berlin, Sydney, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Montreal, Wellington… many major cities in up to 70 countries.
Hong Kong, continuing pro-democracy riots against the draconian extradition proposals of the mainland Chinese government.
Brazil, protests against all the fires in the Amazon jungle and anti-genocide accusations levied at Brazil’s far-right President Bolsonaro’s agribusiness policies.
Venezuela, continuous protests designed to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office and restore the economic fortunes of the country.
Various forms of protest in China, notably in Tibet where protesters rail against persecution and restrictions on religious freedom; the ethnic Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province who claim a closer allegiance to Central Asian people than to the majority Han Chinese people; and similarly in Mongolia.
The Yellow Vest (Gilet Jaunes) protesters of France who are campaigning for economic justice and social reform.
Italian communists protesting in Rome against a recent EU motion that equates communism to fascism and thus bans all thing communist.
Protests in Athens against the Greek government’s decision to rename the northern part of the country as North Macedonia.
Protests in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt aimed at removing President Sisi from office following accusations of corruption and political oppression
Multiple protests in South Africa, dubbed the protest capital of the world, against government corruption, economic repression and poverty.
Protests by anti-government activists in Harare, Zimbabwe, opposed to the newly-formed government of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the successor of President Mugabe.
Thousands, if not millions, of school children worldwide protesting against climate change inspired by the Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg.
Even in Russia, students are protesting in Moscow against rigged elections and asking for a less tyrannical and more democratic government.
And so it continues. Pick a city or a country, let’s call it X, and enter ‘Protest in X today’ in Google and see what comes up. For example, try ‘Protests in Lisbon today’ and up pops a protest in opposition to a far-right conference last August. Try ’Protests in Vilnius today’. You’ll find anti-Soviet and support for Hong Kong protesters demonstrating last August. What about sleepy old Green Bank, West Virginia, known as the Quietest Town in America? Green Bank is located in the US government’s National Radio Quiet Zone and is devoid of wi-fi, Bluetooth, smartphones and any other gizmo that relies on radio signals. As such, Green Bank attracts people suffering from so-called Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EH), an aversion to electromagnetic fields and, guess what, the good people of Green Bank are now protesting against the influx of EH sufferers and other technophobes.
It seems that everywhere in the world people are finding something to protest about – global issues such as climate change and immigration, national issues such as government corruption and oppression, local issues such as unwanted technophobes or unwanted housing developments. In some cases, protests are peaceful and short-lived just to make a point. In other cases, people die or are savagely beaten up, imprisoned or just disappear. Every evening on the news, we hear that people have died in a protest somewhere and we bat not an eyelid. We give no thought to the family of those who died, how their lives have now changed, whether the deaths have strengthened or weakened the aims of the remaining protesters. Protests are a way of life, as common as shopping at a supermarket or enjoying a meal at a restaurant.
Personally, I have never felt the need to join a protest – to lay underneath vehicles, or chain or glue myself to some large immovable object, or march through towns holding a placard and chanting protest mantras. Maybe my home town, Fareham in the UK, has no protesters? Oh, wait a minute. There were protests in 2017 against 700 new homes and high levels of air pollution. It looks as if I’ve missed out there.
One thing intrigues me about protests and protesters however. When I see reports of huge waves of people thronging the streets of some big city causing major disruptions for hours or days on end, where do they go when nature calls? Where do they urinate or defecate? In public toilets or in nearby department stores, shopping malls or restaurants? What if those facilities are shut because of the protests? In places where public facilities are scarce or not provided, what do protesters do when taken short? Do females carry she-wees? Do protest organisers provide porta-potties? Or do protesters starve themselves for three days and not drink for two days to empty rectums and bladders before embarking on the protest? In fact, do protesters protest about the lack of public toilets when they are protesting?
Answers on a postcard, please.