By Matison Hearn-Desautels
This Thanksgiving, whether you be settling into your cozy Amtrak seat, your living room sofa, or killing time in the airport – likely sardined next to countless others delayed by winter storms – Democracy and Society has your reading list covered (plus some recommendations for watching and listening).
Our team is thankful for the whistleblowers, government dissidents, and ordinary citizens who are fighting to protect democracy around the world. From Chile to Hong Kong, protesters are risking their lives to demand that governments protect the economic and political rights of their citizens. Here are some of the stories we’re following:
- Protests continue in Hong Kong, where a decentralized movement calls for democratic reform and an end to police brutality. HK security forces have beaten, gassed, and arrested thousands of protesters with impunity, despite more than 1,200 complaints. The death of Alex Chow, a pro-democracy activist, during a rally in early November has stressed the already tenuous relationship between police and civilians. Recent upheaval at the Polytechnic University saw a change in the nature of the uprising.
- With hundreds of thousands taking to the streets, Columbia has seen its largest protests in years. Demonstrators are frustrated with the deeply unpopular Duque government and are calling for progress on the country’s 2016 peace deal with the Farc, which has been slow moving. Protests have been invigorated by the recent death of 18-year-old Dilan Cruz, who was killed by riot police.
- On Tuesday, the Human Rights Watch posted a report on the police misconduct that has been plaguing protests in Chile. The report finds “compelling evidence that police used excessive force to respond to protests, injuring thousands of people, whether they were engaged in violent actions or not.”
- In Lebanon, protesters are calling for an end to high-level corruption and elite-centered politics. Criticism for Hezbollah is mounting. In the midst of an economic crisis that has brought the country to months-long financial stagnation, Lebanon just paid back $1.5 billion Eurobond, “pacifying concerns that [it] might default on its debt.”
- In Iran, 200,000 people took to the streets in anti-government protests, the largest demonstrations in the Islamic Republic’s history. The government has responded with Internet shutdowns, mass detentions, and violence.
- In honor of Trans Awareness month, we remember the activists who have championed gender and sexual freedom by fighting for healthcare equality, legal representation, and an end to police brutality. We are grateful for Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie, who helped start the Stonewall uprising and helped usher the United States on a path toward LGBTQ liberation.
Looking for some longer reads? Check out Larry Diamond’s new book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency. We’ll post a review of Ill Winds this coming Monday.
Another recent publication is Heidi Blake’s From Russia With Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assasination Program and Vladmir Putin’s Secret War on the West. Blake, the Global Investigations Editor for BuzzFeed, discusses her fascinating research into 14 Kremlin-linked assassinations on British soil on this recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air.
And if you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is definitely worth a trip to the movie theater. A slow-building commentary on class and co-dependence, the film is neither subtle nor kid-friendly.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Democracy and Society team. May your travels be speedy, dinner conversations pleasant, and your days filled with democracy.
Matison Hearn-Desautels is the Editor of Democracy and Society. She is in the second year of her Master’s in the Democracy and Governance program. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.