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This section covers a range of protests against government policies (e.g. neoliberalism leading to greater inequality) and styles of government (e.g. corruption and misspending). It begins with the Chilean student-led challenge to the Pinochet legacy in 2011-12 and three mass movements that erupted in 2013 (and sometimes compared to each other) in Bulgaria, Turkey and Brazil. Secondly it focuses more specifically on campaigns for greater transparency and against corruption, using a number of examples from India, including the well publicized anti-corruption movement that arose in 2011. Thirdly, this section illustrates campaigns for just taxation and against overtaxing the poor.

The student-led protests in Chile in 2011-12 were hailed as the most significant movement in Chile since the resistance to General Pinochet in the 1980s, and were a direct challenge to Pinochet’s legacy of neoliberalism, involving privatization (including of higher education) and profound inequalities, enshrined in the 1981 Pinochet Constitution.

There were in 2013-2014 significant protests in terms of both duration and scale in three countries which are formally democratic (regular multiparty elections in which the conduct and outcome is not seriously challenged), but are in varying degrees corrupt, authoritarian, or both. In Bulgaria the protesters demanded the resignation of governments, and in Turkey targeted the role of the prime minister; in both protesters also challenged the nature of the political regime. But in Brazil protests were directed against aspects of the regime and socio-economic system, rather than the Socialist government in power.

Opposition to corruption was one of the important issues behind the Bulgarian protests and became a major focus in Turkey by 2014, and was also one target of the Brazilian demonstrations.

Poverty, deep social and economic inequalities and the power of big business, have been other motives for mass agitation. In Bulgaria the spark was the doubling of electricity bills in the city of Blagoevgrad; and anger at the impact of neoliberal economic policies and government support for corporations motivated demonstrators in Turkey and Brazil. In both these countries a related issue was government commitment to major urban or sporting projects, at the expense of the local inhabitants.

The protests in Turkey and, especially, Bulgaria, where students became central in the final stage, had similarities with the earlier Chilean resistance to neoliberalism.

An impressive student movement erupted in Chile in 2011 and maintained its activism for months, employing a wide range of tactics (including not only mass marches and temporary occupations of educational and political buildings, but also hunger strikes, ‘kiss-ins’ in public squares, bicycle rides and performances of pop songs). They also organized an informal referendum against the profit motive in which many thousands took part to show their opposition to higher education policy. The students challenged the neoliberal nature of higher education, where total privatization had linked high quality to high fees and state investment was very low. But they also criticized the impact of this ideology on society and the economy as a whole. So – after police violently attacked a student march through the centre of Santiago – the wider public began to join the protests. Students began to receive major support from trade unionists and workers, who went on strike, built barricades and took part in ‘carcerolazos’ (organized banging of pots and pans). A public opinion poll suggested three quarters of the population supported the students, and their demands received major media coverage for months. This challenge to the regime had been preceded in 2006 by the ‘penguin revolution’ of secondary school pupils (named for the colours of their school uniforms), which did manage to get the Pinochet law on education repealed, but the new law failed to promote real educational reform. The demonstrations of 2006 also failed to ignite wider social unrest.

The students in 2011 did manage to wring a series of concessions from the government, and leaders of the Student Federation negotiated with President Pinera; but the students rejected several attempts by the government between June and August 2011 to find solutions as superficial. Student protesters in April 2012 were still rejecting the government concessions. When elections took place in December 2013, against a background of widespread public activism, student leader Camila Vallejo stood for Congress and the socialist Michelle Bachelet became President, promising educational, constitutional and tax changes to promote greater equality. But the coalition government was then divided on reforms in 2014, and the debate took place primarily at the parliamentary level.

The developments in Chile were quite widely reported, but much of the literature is in Spanish. We list below a number of commentaries and analyses, mostly available online.

Cabalin, Cristian, Neoliberal Education and Student Movements in Chile: Inequalities and Malaise, Policy Futures in Education, Vol. 10, issue 2, 2012, pp. 219-228

Looks at 2006 and 2011 protests.

Contreras, Dan, Chile’s Educational and Social Movement: Quality Education for Everyone...Now!, The Broken Rifle, issue 90 (December), 2011

Briefly explains problem in higher education and how privatization promotes gap between rich and poor. Describes wide range of nonviolent direct action used by the students, but notes wider support and activism.

Cummings, Peter, Democracy and Student Discontent: Chilean Student Protest in the Post-Pinochet Era, Journal of Politics in Latin America, 2015

Cummings notes that despite a significant reduction in poverty levels, and the establishment of political democracy since the end of the Pinochet regime in 1990, there were widespread high school and student protests in 2006 and 2011. These were supported by most of the population and indicated serious discontent. He suggests three main reasons: a gap between student expectations and ability to realize them; their collective sense of identity as a fearless new generation; and the specific interactions between the government and the students. 

Figueroa-Clark, Victor, The Meaning behind Protests in Chile, International Affairs at LSE, 10/08/2011,

Discusses context of protest, the school and university education system, extent of inequality in Chilean society, and implications if movement successful.

McIntyre, Jody, How to Grow a Student Movement, Chilean Style, New Internationalist, issue October, 2012, pp. 26-27

Stresses challenge to Pinochet legacy and links with workers’ unions. Includes timeline of protests from May 2011 – August 2012.

Muñoz-Lamartine, Ernesto, Chile: Student Leaders Reinvent the Movement, Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies, issue Fall, 2011

Account of talk by Giorgio Jackson, President of the Catholic University’s Student Association in Chile.

Salinas, Daniel ; Fraser, Pablo, Educational Opportunity and Contentious Politics: The 2011 Chilean Student Movement, Berkeley Review of Education, Vol. 3, issue 1, 2012, pp. 17-47

Considers the reasons for emergence of movement and its challenge to free market provision of education. Argues experience of this education provides both mobilizing grievances and resources for political mobilization.

Somma, Nicolas M., The Chilean Student Movement of 2011-2012: Challenging the Marketization of Education, Interface: a journal about social movements, Vol. 4, issue 2 (Nov), 2012, pp. 296-309

The author is assistant professor of sociology at the Catholic University of Chile. Examines causes of protests and educational system, ‘horizontalism’ of student organization, tactics, use of media and maintenance of internal unity.

Major protests took place in Bulgaria in three stages. The first stage, which began in February with the burning of electricity bills that had doubled in a month, involved resistance to unemployment and government austerity policies (similar to the protests in Greece, Spain and elsewhere in Europe in response to the economic downturn), but included anger about corruption. These protests, which involved a mass demonstration outside parliament and seven people setting fire to themselves, and mobilized the poor and many from the countryside, demanded the resignation of the centre-right government led by Boiko Borisov. This demand was successful and resulted in a general election. A new government led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party in coalition with the (largely Turkish) Movement for Rights and Freedom was formed in May reliant on parliamentary support from the far-right Ataka MPs. The new government, headed by Plamen Oresharski, aroused popular anger in June when the government was seen to be reverting to collusion with corporate oligarchs in nominating a ‘media mogul with shady connections’ to a key national security post. Demonstrators immediately and successfully demanded his resignation, but continued throughout the summer to demand the resignation of the government as a whole. These protests, primarily by the urban middle class, did not succeed in their stated aim and began to reflect divergent political ideologies. They did, however, gain some support from European governments and the EU. (See: Ivan Krastev, ‘Why Bulgaria’s Protests Stand Out in Europe’, Guardian, 30 July 2013}.

The third phase was initiated by students at Sofia occupying the main lecture hall in late October, prompting other student occupations round the country (with some support from their lecturers) and promoting an ‘Occupy Bulgaria’ movement against corruption and calling for electoral reforms, easier removal of MPs and greater transparency. The students also backed the demand for the resignation of the government and highlighted the gap between rich and poor. In November they joined with trade unions to demonstrate outside parliament. Despite apparent widespread popular support, the student protests began to lose momentum by December. However, observers noted that the protests in 2013 had been almost entirely nonviolent, and had involved a range of imaginative and artistic actions – for example the recreation on July 14 of the Delacroix painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’, but substituting the Bulgarian for the French flag – which might provide a hopeful precedent for future mobilization.

Drezov, Kyril, A Neighbour in Turmoil: Two Waves of Popular Protest in 2013 Bulgaria, In Gokay; Xypolia, Reflections on Taksim – Gezi Park Protests in Turkey (H.1.c.ii. Journal Articles and Substantial Assessments), Keele European Research Centre, Southeast Europe Series, Keele University, pp. 52-57

Gurov, Boris ; Zankina, Emilia, Populism and the Construction of Political Charisma: Post-Transition Politics in Bulgaria, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 60, issue 1 (Jan/Feb), 2013, pp. 3-17

Article published just before protests erupted in February.

Junes, Tom, Students Take Bulgaria’s Protests to the Next Level. Can They Break the Political Stalemate?, Transit. Europaische Revue, issue 44, 2013

Useful and well referenced analysis of student phase of protests, in context of earlier student protests in 1997 and wider national demonstrations in 2013.

Lipkis, Sarah, 2013: The Year of Bulgarian Protest, World Policy Journal Blog, 17/12/2013, pp. -2

Nikolov, Nikolay ; Kurzydlowski, Dessislava Hristova ; Merkova, Sonya ; Simeonova, Tanya, Bulgaria: lost in transition,, 10/12/2013,

Stresses that Bulgaria’s corrupt and incompetent governments are result of the nature of the 1989 transition, the opportunities created then for members of the security services to seize economic, social and political power, and lack of public debate about the past.

Authoritarianism was a major focus of the Turkish 2013 protests, which gathered momentum after brutal police reaction to a small peaceful sit-in from May 28-31 in Gezi Park, Taksim Square, Istanbul. Although the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had won three successive elections since 2002, could claim significant political achievements – curbing the army and (despite repression of Kurdish militants) promoting a peace process with the Kurds – his style was increasingly autocratic. Under his government artistic and media freedom were suppressed – Reporters Without Borders placed Turkey no. 154 out of 180 countries in its 2014 Press Freedom Index. Secondly, although the Turkish economy had prospered under neo-liberal policies, anger about the gap between rich and poor was a second element in the Turkish protests (as it has been in many popular uprisings). The government has fostered close links with big business, including construction and mining companies, at the expense of workers, as the deaths of 282 miners in May 2014 (against a backdrop of government refusal to impose stronger safety rules in mines, which according to the ILO are the third most dangerous in the world) dramatically illustrated. A third factor in the Turkish protests was the government’s policy of rapid urban development overriding local concerns – resistance to the destruction of Gezi Park in central Istanbul began the May-June 2013 movement. The government planned to replace the park with a rebuilt Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, and it was one of the last public parks in the city. Another concern for many demonstrators was the government’s attack on secular lifestyles, for example tighter rules on sales of alcohol.

The rapidly growing demonstrations from 1 June 2013 included a much larger occupation of Gezi Park and protests across the country, mobilizing over 3 million people in 50 towns and cities. Erdogan ordered a crackdown in mid -June: in the violent police operation eight died, 104 had serious head injuries and about 8,000 were hurt; many who showed sympathy (even by tweets) lost their jobs, and a year later hundreds were still on trial. The repressive response was met initially by individuals mounting solitary ‘standing’ protests in public places. Although after June there was not a sustained movement, there have been frequent protests since on varied issues, including corruption, in late 2013 and in 2014. The funeral processions in March 2014 for a 14 year old boy who died after nearly months in a coma (induced by being hit by a gas canister fired by police during the Gezi Park protests) was attacked by the police, triggering new demonstrations across the country. Corruption allegations had surfaced in December 2013, there were leaks on social media, and Erdogan was being accused of removing police and prosecutors in order to delay investigations which might incriminate his family and business and political allies. The mine disaster in May 2014 (noted above) prompted angry street protests in major cities.

Although a majority of Turkey’s 80 million population has continued to support Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – for example in voting in the municipal elections in 2014 – the Gezi protests and their aftermath brought about a more critical attitude by many to government and the subservient mainstream media. In the view of some activists the protests also promoted greater tolerance among those with diverse attitudes to Islam and differing lifestyles, and brought together very diverse groups: Turks and Kurds, Kemalists and conservative Muslims, Greens, Marxists, anarchists, feminists and LGBT activists. The protesters were predominantly young – those who flocked to Gezi Park to protest against police violence included young liberals and members of the activist pro-democracy Young Civilians – but included older men and women and gained support from many white collar and professional groups, including doctors who tended the wounded. Businesses in Istanbul also offered some support.

Erdogan did receive a setback in the June 2015 parliamentary elections – despite being elected president in 2014 – when his AKP party failed for the first time in 13 years to win a majority in parliament. He had campaigned for a constitutional change to strengthen presidential powers, and some voters apparently wished to curb his authoritarian ambitions.

However, the situation in Turkey rapidly worsened in the second half of 2015. The government effectively abandoned the peace process with the Kurds when it launched air strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases in July in response to a car bomb attack attributed to them, and publicly bracketed the KPP with ISIS as a threat to Turkey. Erdogan appealed to popular feelings of insecurity to secure a majority in parliament in new elections on 1 November 2015, and immediately proceeded to step up his repression of political opponents and the media.

Turkish politics became more repressive and obscure after a failed military coup in mid-July 2016. Erdogan did receive widespread popular support in resisting the coup, but immediately began an extensive purge of alleged coup plotters, which extended not only to the army and police, but also to the judiciary, the civil service, university staff, dismissed from their posts, and jails were being emptied to receive new political prisoners. The accusation was that they owed allegiance to an exiled Muslim cleric (a former associate of the President), who Erdogan named as the head of a conspiratorial movement.

There have been more significant protests, for example about the new Constitution, which extends the length of time Erdogan can remain President and the scope of his powers. The referendum in April 2017 was very narrowly won and its conduct was criticised by OSCE. A march by tens of thousands from Istanbul to Ankara started on June15, 2017 calling for the rule of law and justice against mass imprisonmen as a result of state emergency.

Therefore, at some point there may be a case for further updating to cover developments in Turkey if there are solid enough sources (e.g. academic articles; whole sections in movements periodicals; well anlysed .PDFs or, of course, books).

The Gezi Park protests gained international media coverage, as did their brutal suppression in mid-June. The reports below are all from Turkish commentators.

Bechev, Dimitar, Turkey, a people-power tide,, 02/06/2013,

Gokpinar, Ali, Neither Turkish spring nor velvet revolution,, 05/06/2013,

Shafak, Elif, The view from Taksim Square: why is Turkey now in turmoil?, The Guardian, 03/06/2013,

Tocci, Nathalie, A u-turn in Turkish politics? Gezi Park in perspective ,, 03/06/2013,

Abbas, Tahir, Political Culture and National Identity in Conceptualising the Gezi Park Movement, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, issue 4 (Fall), 2013, pp. 19-28

Arat, Yeşim, Violence, Resistance and Gezi Park, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 45, issue 4 (Nov), 2013, pp. 807-809

Examination of violence from a gender perspective by academic specializing in women’s political participation in Turkey.

Cansun, Şebnem, The Gezi Park protests and youth in Turkey: Perception of Hürriyet Columnists, International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies, Vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 92-105

Article discusses why, despite major role of young people using social media in the first three weeks of protests, columnists in the major Turkish daily Hurriyet (Liberty) often failed to mention, or underplayed, the significance of the young demonstrators.

Cook, Steven A., Turkey’s Democratic Mirage: The Powerbrokers Ankara Back, Foreign Affairs, 08/01/2014,

Assessment of Turkey’s progress towards being a consolidated democracy since the Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002, arguing that despite some significant gains there are still ‘profound’ problems as the corruption allegations against Erodgan illustrate.

Gokay, Bulent ; Xypolia, Ilia, Reflections on Taksim – Gezi Park Protests in Turkey, Keele European Research Centre, Southeast Europe Series, Keele University, 2013, pp. 80

Includes a range of brief essays on the Taksim protests, but also includes Immanuel Wallerstein on ‘Turkey: Dilemma of the Kurds’, and chapters making comparisons with Mexico 1968 and with Brazil, plus an analysis of ‘Two Waves of Popular Protest in 2013 Bulgaria’.

Gül, Murat ; Dee, John ; Cünük, Cahide Nur, Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Gezi Park: The Place of Protest and the Ideology of Place, Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, Vol. 38, issue 1 (March), 2014, pp. 63-72

Discusses the protests and their symbolism and the ideological conflicts evoked.

Letsch, Constanze, A Year after the Protests, Gezi Park Nurtures the Seeds of a New Turkey, The Guardian, 29/05/2014,

Tugal, Cihan Ziya, Democratic Janissaries? Turkey’s Role in the Arab Spring, New Left Review, issue 76 (Jul-Aug), 2012, pp. 5-24

Criticizes the western view of Turkey as model for the Islamic world and analyses the Erdogan government’s domestic and foreign policy. Written the year before Gezi Park , but provides relevant background.

Yaila, Atilla, Gezi Park Revolts: For or Against Democracy?, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, issue 4 (Fall), 2013, pp. 7-18

Critical examination of the multiplicity of the Gezi movement, the underlying factors and its repercussions . The author stresses the degree of violence and claims ‘the broader Gezi Park agenda represented a fundamentally Kemalist reaction against democracy’, citing the role of the Republican People’s Party as supporting evidence.

The mass demonstrations that broke out in Brazil on 6 June 2014 began as a protest against a rise in bus and metro fares in Sao Paolo (organized by the leftist and anarchistic Movement for Free Passes), but a brutal police response prompted the demonstrations to swell rapidly in numbers and spread across the country. As a movement erupted the demands also grew, including improvement in social services such as transport, health and education, calls for electoral and constitutional reform and opposition to corruption. Another central focus for protests was the lavish government expenditure on preparations for holding the World Cup in the summer of 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. This expenditure should, demonstrators asserted, have been directed instead to improving the welfare of ordinary Brazilians.

The protests drew on students and young people alienated by the link between government and corporations and the role of money in politics, the poor from the slums, but also many from the middle classes. This diverse constituency and the largely spontaneous nature of the protests meant that the demonstrations lacked a clear sense of political priorities and had no organizational focus. The movement arose outside the party political system and although some protesters indicated support for small leftist parties and support for the ruling Workers’ Party waned during June 2014, there was no concerted call for President Dilma Roussef, who made a number of promises in response to the protests, to resign.

Demonstrations continued periodically in 2013 and into 2014 against the World Cup, and slum clearance and demolitions in preparation for the Olympics aroused anger in the favelas. But a movement on the scale of June 2013 did not reappear.

Postscript 2016: There were further protests up to the opening of the Olympic Games in August 2016 against the cost of the Games and the impact on the poor. But the central political issue from March to September 2016 was the impeachment of President Roussef. The impeachment campaign in Congress, on the charge of manipulating budgetary accounts, led by the Speaker of the Lower House, was backed by right wing parties and mass middle class demonstrations. It has understandably been interpreted by the left in Brazil as a right wing coup, especially as Roussef was replaced by the relatively right wing Vice President. But Roussef, voted out of office by the Senate in September, had also lost general public support (her approval rating falling as low as 10 per cent in the polls in 2016) due to the economic slump and the massive bribery scandal centred on the state-owned oil company Petrobas. This scandal implicated almost all parties, including the Workers’ Party. Roussef herself, however, has never been accused of personal corruption, unlike a large number of her Congressional opponents (including the Speaker of the Lower House).

Branford, Sue ; Wainwright, Hilary, Ructions in Rio, Red Pepper, issue Aug/Sept, 2013, pp. 40-41

Campos, Nauro F., What drives protests in Brazil? Corruption, ineptitude and elections, VOX, 23/07/2013,

Economics professor suggests three main causes of the protests.

Dent, Alexander S. ; Pinheiro-Machado, Rosana, Protesting Democracy in Brazil, Hot Spots. Cultural Anthropology website, 20/12/2013,

Series of 22 posts covering numerous aspects of protests, their cause, and issues of policing.

Gatehouse, Tom, Copa de Cash: saying this is a World Cup for everyone is a cruel joke, Red Pepper, issue Jun/Jul, 2014, pp. 38-39

On the negative impact of preparations for the World Cup and increasingly repressive police tactics.

Saad-Filho, Alfredo, Mass Protests under “Left Neoliberalism”: Brazil, June-July 2013, Critical Sociology, Vol. 39, issue 5 (Sep.), 2013, pp. 657-669

Examines causes, range of demands, social base and ‘contradictory frustrations’ of the mass protests. Discusses political dilemmas and proposes ‘constructive alternatives for the left’.

Singer, André, Rebellion in Brazil, New Left Review, issue 85 (Jan/Feb), 2014, pp. 19-38

Analyzes varied class, age and political beliefs of the protesters (sometimes resulting in conflict between them).

Winters, Matthew S. ; Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, Partisan and Nonpartisan Protests in Brazil, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 137-150

Uses evidence of two surveys to examine effects of protests on party-alignment and suggests a drop in support for the ruling Workers’ Party, but that no other party gained in support.

Anger about government and business corruption is frequently one theme in popular movements, as the studies of Bulgaria, Turkey and Brazil illustrate, and has prompted protests in many parts of the world: for example the ‘Million People March’ in Manila in 26 August 2013. A valuable recent study of how popular organization and nonviolent action (taking many forms) has challenged corruption in many countries, from Italy to Korea, India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Brazil and Uganda, is:

Beyerle, Shaazka, Curtailing Corruption: People Power for Accountability and Justice, Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, 2014, pp. 261

It is impossible in this Guide to cover all anti-corruption protests. The focus here is on India, where an internationally well-publicized Anti-Corruption Movement arose in 2011 and had repercussions on Indian politics. However, this significant but controversial movement should be seen in the wider context of many earlier and varied forms of struggle in India to promote greater government transparency and to prevent corruption.

This sub-section gives references for the role of civil society bodies, and in particular the work of the radical Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Association for the Empowerment of Workers and Farmers), which waged a campaign including direct action in the state of Rajasthan in the 1990s for a Right to Information Act. This Act became law in Rajasthan in January 2001. The MKSS encouraged campaigns in other parts of India, and a national Right to Information Act was passed in 2005. The Act now provides a basis for campaigners to seek out examples of corruption.

Jenkins, Rob, Democracy, Development and India’s Struggle Against Corruption, Public Policy Research, Vol. 3, issue 3 (Sep-Dec), 2006, pp. 155-163

Jenkins, Rob, Civil Society versus Corruption in India, In Ganguly, Sumit ; Diamond, Larry ; Plattner, Marc F., The State of India's Democracy Baltimore MD, John Hopkins University Press, , 2007, pp. 161-167

Jenkins, Rob ; Goetz, Anne Marie, Accounts and Accountability: Theoretical Implications of the Right-to-Information Movement in India, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 20, issue 3, 1999, pp. 603-622

Examination of the grass roots work of the MKSS in developing campaign for right to information as part of their wider campaigning and their use of jan sunwals (public hearings) in communities where official documents regarding public works, anti-poverty programmes etc. are read out and people are encouraged to add their own testimony about diversion of funds and fraud. The article also covers the MKSS use of public protest, such as a 52 day sit-in in the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, in 1997. See also:  Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Right to Information. State Level: Rajasthan [2005] , 2005 . Brief elaboration and update on work of MKSS and Right to Information Acts up to 2005.

Kumar, Raj C., Corruption and Human Rights in India: Comparative Perspectives on Transparency and Good Governance, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 234

Analyzes corruption as a violation of human rights and proposes a multi-pronged approach to tackling corruption, including a greater role for civil society. A postscript takes account of the 2011 Anna Hazare movement against corruption.

Webb, Martin, Disciplining the Everyday State and Society? Anti-Corruption and Right to Information Activism in Delhi, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 47, issue 5, 2013, pp. 363-393

On use of legal mechanisms under the 2005 Right to Information Act by anti-corruption and right to information groups.

A significant popular movement against corporate and government corruption was ignited on 5 April 2011, when Anna Hazare, a 73 year-old former soldier, and campaigner against corruption in Maharastha state since 1991, embarked on a ‘fast to death’ to secure a national ombudsman to fight corruption. His action mobilized many thousands of supporters in different cities, who flocked to the streets, undertook candlelit processions or fasted in sympathy. The Congress-led government, which was embroiled in a 24 billion pound telecoms fraud and allegations about bribery over the 2010 Commonwealth Games, hastened to respond. After the Prime Minister promised to bring a bill into the Lower House of Parliament, Harare called off his fast on 9 April, but set a deadline for 15 August for bringing the bill into parliament. The government brought in an anti-corruption ombudsman bill which Hazare and his supporters argued was wholly inadequate; Hazare demanded that the draft drawn up by his advisers should be put before parliament instead. In order to prevent a further public hunger strike, the government on 16 August 2011 imprisoned Harare in Delhi’s Tihar jail and arrested hundreds of his supporters. Hazare began his fast in jail, whilst supporters protested across India. The government rapidly ordered his release, but Harare refused bail until allowed to fast in public, which he did until 28th August, when parliament passed a ‘sense of the house’ resolution endorsing his demands, and thousands celebrated a ‘people’s victory’.

The government brought in a bill which passed in the lower house in late December 2011, but in the view of Hazare and his supporters it did not give the ombudsman sufficient powers, such as the right to prosecute offenders, and he embarked on another fast on 27 December, but on doctors’ advice ended it three days later. The proposed ombudsman was not finally voted into law until two years later, when the lower house approved amendments to the original bill endorsed by the upper house. Anna Hazare, who had been undertaking another fast, ended it and announced the setting up of ‘watchdog bodies’ to monitor how the new law was enforced. The creation of the national ombudsman was the culmination of eight previous unsuccessful attempts to set up such a body since the 1960s. However, some leftists critics of Hazare’s campaign argued a national body would be unwieldy and was contrary to the Gandhian approach he claimed to adopt.

Harare began his national campaign by a statue of Gandhi and used the tactics of fasts and disobedience, and comparisons with Gandhi were promoted by his supporters and the media. One strand in negative comments on his campaign has queried the validity of this comparison. But the major criticisms on the left have been that the campaign was predominantly middle class and not focused on issues facing the poor, and that Hazare leaned towards the Hindu right, who were represented among his campaign team. Coverage of his movement did tend to be more favourable in Hindu language media, and the rightwing Hindu party the BJP supported his anti-corruption demands, in part to embarrass the Congress-led government. However, others have argued that the significance of the movement Hazare helped to mobilize should not be ignored. Indeed, a newly-created anti-corruption party the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP), formed by a former Gandhian activist and key associate of Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, received spectacular support in elections to the Delhi assembly in December 2013. Kejriwal resigned as Delhi’s chief minister 49 days later with his colleagues because, he claimed, the two major parties (Congress and the BJP) had blocked his anti-corruption measures. Hazare has, however, refused to support the AAM, citing his distrust of party politics.

The 2011-13 movement has been quite well covered in the international media, especially during the fasts and protests in April, August and December 2011, and some reports in Indian newspapers, such as the Times of India, are available online. Substantial journal articles and commentaries are so far more sparse.

Baisakh, Pradeep, We will give people a political alternative: an interview with Arvind Kejriwal,, 08/03/2013,

Jayaram, N., Frenzied argument in India ,, 29/08/2011,

Article written at peak of Hazare movement, noting the divided views on the movement and criticisms of it, including the dangers of ‘messianic campaigns’ for parliamentary democracy.

Mishra, K.P., Gandhian Views on Democracy, Gandhi Marg, Vol. 34, issue 2-3 (Jul-Dec), 2012, pp. 205-216

Primarily an exposition of Gandhi’s theory of democracy, but commenting on Hazare’s anti-corruption movement as a starting point.

Nigam, Aditya ; Menon, Nivedita, Anti-Corruption Movement and the Left, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 46, issue 37, 10/09/2011, pp. -4

Comments on the potential of a large and nonviolent movement and criticizes hard line leftist criticisms.

Patnaik, Prabhat, Anna Hazare and Gandhi - Whatever devalues Parliament strikes at the root of democracy, The Telegraph, Calcutta, 21/06/2011,

Criticizes coercive nature of a ‘fast to the death’ and dangers of civil society activism that bypasses parliament.

Sengupta, Mitu, Anna Hazare and the Idea of Gandhi, Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 71, issue 3 (Aug), 2012, pp. 595-601

Originally published in Dissent.

Raises caveats about comparisons with Gandhi, discusses Hazare’s diagnosis and prescriptions for corruption and comments on the nature of the Hazare movement. Argues against claims that it is a pawn of the extreme right RSS and/or CIA, noting the extent of mass protests and the depth of anger about corruption.

Shabnoor, Sultana, Dig Deep into Corruption in India,, 24/08/2011,

Brief summary of key disagreements between government and Hazare camp on role and powers of proposed ombudsman.

Opposition to taxes seen as unjust or illegitimate has long been a spur to popular resistance, as in the English Peasants’ Revolt and in the preludes to the English Civil War and the American Revolution. Taxes may also be withheld to demonstrate opposition to particular policies, for example military budgets and preparations (see D.2.b.), or as part of a wider revolt against state policies, as in the Poujadist movement among small farmers in France in the 1950s. An important example of widespread resistance to a tax on the grounds it was unjust was the British poll tax movement of 1989-90, sparked by Mrs. Thatcher’s introduction of a ‘poll tax’ – a new flat rate local government tax on all individuals, regardless of their income. This movement, which led to the tax being revoked and helped to undermine Mrs. Thatcher’s tenure in office, has inspired a significant literature.

Unfair targeting of the poor is one form of tax injustice. The other side of the coin, which has come increasingly into focus in recent years, is the failure of the very rich (individuals and in particular corporations) to pay their fair share of tax. Sit-in campaigns on this issue were promoted by UK Uncut, which targeted companies making large profits in Britain, but used accounting mechanisms to avoid paying any (or sufficient) tax to the UK exchequer (see A.8.d.). UK Uncut tactics and demands spread to some other countries, and were part of wider public, media and parliamentary criticism of the social irresponsibility of banks and large corporations. Tax avoidance and evasion is a global issue – particular important for poorer countries – and a range of civil society bodies in different countries have combined since 2011 to demand an end to secrecy on tax havens. The Tax Justice Network published a report in 2012 suggesting that 13 trillion pounds in financial wealth (excluding property) was hidden in secret tax havens. A whistleblower in the UK Revenue and Customs department in 2011 drew the attention of two parliamentary committees to another potential source of unfairness – tax authorities failing to enforce taxes of millions of pounds on major companies. Although there is potential for forms of direct action such as sit-ins and boycotts targeting companies (as Uncut demonstrated) much of the campaigning involves ‘tracing the tax’ and symbolic protests of the kind promoted by Christian Aid.

Bagguley, Paul, Protest, Poverty and Power: A Case Study of the Anti-Poll Tax Movement, Sociological Review, Vol. 43, issue 4, 1995, pp. 693-719

Examines social base, organization and tactics of the anti-poll tax movement and relates it to theoretical debates about new social movements and poor people’s movements. See also: Bagguley, Paul , Anti-Poll Tax Protest In Kennedy, Paul ; Barker, Colin , To Make Another World: Studies in Protest and Collective Action Aldershot, Avebury Press, , 1996, pp. 7-24

Hoggett, Paul ; Burns, Danny, The Revenge of the Poor: The Anti-Poll Tax Campaign in Britain, Critical Social Policy, Vol. 11, issue (Dec), 1991, pp. 95-110

See also reply by Lavalette, Michael ; Mooney, Gerry , The Poll Tax Struggle in Britain: A Reply to Hoggett and Burn Critical Social Policy, 1993, pp. 96-108

Lavalette, Michael ; Mooney, Gerry, ”No Poll Tax Here!”: The Tories, Social Policy and the Great Poll Tax Rebellion, 1987-1991, In Lavalette, Michael ; Mooney, Gerry , Class Struggle and Social Welfare Abingdon, Routledge, , 2000, pp. 199-227

Murgatroyd, Richard, The Popular Politics of the Poll Tax: An Active Citizenship of the Left, London, Brunel University (published PhD thesis), 2000, pp. 338

Detailed case study of poll tax protest in the London Borough of Ealing.

Ramsey, Kanaan, How One Small Anarchist Group Toppled the Thatcher Government, (Interviewed by David Solnit), In Solnit, Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World (A.6.a. General Titles), San Francisco CA, City Lights, pp. 397-410

Discusses how the poll tax campaign spread beyond its origins in Edinburgh to the rest of Britain and describes its main tactics.

The people of Colombia suffered from over 50 years of chaos and political violence by right wing paramilitaries and government forces in conflict with left wing guerrillas. Political conflicts were exacerbated by the role of a flourishing trade in drugs,  Many local communities attempted to protect themselves from these conflicting forces by adopted a strategy of 'civil resistance', based on commitment to nonviolence and non-cooperation with all the armed groups, including state forces. (See Vol.1.E.IV.6. Colombia for more detail and references.).

This period of extreme disruption and violence ended in 2016, when a peace deal was agreed between the government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and its main opponent, the left wing FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla movement. The initial deal was then rejected in a referendum.  The opposition was led by the former president, Alvaro Uribe, and his Democratic Centre Party, who wanted revision of some terms of the deal, such as immunity for guerrilla leaders accused of war crimes. But a further agreement with the FARC was reached in November 2016 and sent to Congress, where the government had a majority, and was duly approved. The FARC had agreed to demobilize and to hand over all its weapons to the United Nations within 150 days after the agreement had been endorsed by Congress. There were, however still concerns, for example over the eligibility of those who had committed war crimes to run for office.

Three years after the peace deal was signed, many in Colombia mobilized in opposition to government policies and conduct.  The trigger for the strike and mass demonstrations of November 2019 was the economic reform package passed by President Ivan Duque's right wing  government, which had  been elected in 2018. The reforms were condemned by the unions for exacerbating the already extreme economic and social inequality in the country.  The movement extended, however, far beyond the unions.  University and  school students to the fore in the December demonstrations throughout the country, but the movement was also supported by a very broad coalition ranging from indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians to green, feminist and LGBTQI campaigning groups, as well as to public employees such as teachers and pensioners, the liberal professions and individual mayors and senators. The demonstrations also drew on peasant as well as urban dwellers. The protests were the first mass civic mobilization against a government since 1977.

The government's economic reforms and anger about the level of inequality were not the only focus of the protests. The movement also demanded that ESMAD, the mobile anti-riot squad, should be disbanded after the squad on 21 November fired tear gas at peaceful marchers who then erected barricades. The death of a 19 year old student and ESMAD's violence against protesters after 21 November (recorded on cell phones) provided further evidence of ESMAD excesses. A third factor causing popular anger was how the government had been implementing the peace deal with FARC, in the light of assassination of some of its former fighters and also of activists for social justice and the scope allowed to the army to engage in extra-judicial killing. Duque had rejected many aspects of the 2016 peace agreement, including its promises of funding for rural development and reduction in social inequality.

The 2019 movement had no central political leaders and after two months of major protest had not coalesced around a clear policy goal. It was then effectively disbanded by the impact of Covid-19 and lock-downs. But the mass protests were resurrected in April 2021, in immediate response to a government tax reform that raised the cost of basic goods. The demonstrators' demands soon extended to reform of the police in response to police violence, including firing of bullets at peaceful protesters, which had by mid-May led to an estimated 46 deaths. There was international condemnation of the police and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arranged a visit to Colombia for early June. The coalition of demonstrators revived from 2019 also made further socio-economic demands: a basic minimum income and the scrapping of the government plan for health care, which they saw as inadequate.

President Duque's government felt obliged by May 2021 to talk with strike leaders and respond to some of the protesters' demands. He announced police reforms, including use of body cameras and the creation of a human rights directorate within the police. He also agreed to scrap his planned health measures. Demonstrations continued with the aim of maintaining pressure on the government, but critics on the right condemned a rise in the use of violence by some protesters, who according to Amnesty International set up roadblocks and did in some cases damage property.  Strike leaders called for a pause in public protests, which lasted nearly two months.

Al Jazeera reported in July that, after the pause in protests, they renewed in resistance to a tax reform bill before Congress, even though it was less harsh than the earlier proposal that had reignited protest in May 2021. The government then responded with violent repression of the demonstrations leading to more deaths, and a wave of arrests. The arrests of prominent protesters continued into August.

The references below cover both 2019 and 2021 protests and also provide some political context.

The Pandemic Strikes: Responding to Colombia’s Mass Protests, International Crisis Group, 2021, pp. 34

The report examines the significance of the mass strikes and demonstrations in Colombia in 2020-21, examines the government's response, and also suggests some of the dangers involved.  It notes that far right vigilantes supporting the police had fired on demonstrators, and that in some areas criminal gangs were taking advantage of the social disorder.

Glotsky, Genevieve, Colombian Protests: Poverty and the Pandemic Collide with Conflict and Migration, The New Humanitarian, 10/05/2021,

An informative survey of the protests that broke out in April 2021 and the immediate government responses. The articles suggests the demonstrations were essentially a revival of the 2019 movement that was interrupted by Covid-19, but notes differences  - for example the much greater protest in rural areas in 2021. Glotsky also situates the protests in the context of Columbia's social and economic problems, which have been exacerbated by the impact of Covid.

Hylton, Forrest, Something is Happening in Colombia, OpenDemocracy, 14/01/2020,

Hylton discusses the sudden emergence of nation-wide protests mostly led by young people, but uniting diverse sectors of society in opposition to neo-liberal government measures. The article looks back at the historical context, and suggests the protest could strengthen' new movements of the progressive centre'.

Noriega, Christina, As Colombian Protests Dissipate, Activists Hit by Wave of Arrests, AlJazeera, 14/08/2021,

The article begins with the arrest of Alejandro Gaitan, who had led peaceful marches during the recent national strike.  He was accused of belonging to 'Primera Linea[, a protest collective singled out for attack by President Duque.  The collective attacked the government for trying to weaken the movement for change through arrests and court cases.

Peñaranda, Isabel ; Gomez-Delgado, Julian, Colombia's New Awakening, Jacobin, 2019, pp. 6-6

This article, written at the beginning of the mass protest movement that began in Colombia in November 2019, examines the political and economic context of the emergence of socio-economic protest and discusses its possible future significance for Colombia and the left.

Turkewitz, Julie, Why Are Colombians Protesting?, New York Times, 18/05/2021,

This article provides a useful overview of the immediate and longer term causes of the May 2021 protests, the responses by the government and the international reactions. It notes that New York Times videos showed police firing on demonstrators, as well as gas canisters and other 'low lethal' devices, but also considers briefly whether the protesters too have used violence and the impact of road blocks.


Hundreds of thousands of small farmers, some driving tractors, converged on Delhi in November 2020, and set up three protest camps on the outskirts of the capital. Their descent on Delhi had been preceded by a farm strike across India since August, and months of local campaigning against the farm laws introduced in August by Rajendra Modi’s government. The three farm laws brought major changes relating to the sale, prices and storage of crops. The markets with controlled prices were to lose their central role and seemed likely to be abolished leaving farmers to deal directly with major corporations. Over 50 per cent of India's population is engaged in agriculture and over 85 per cent are small farmers owning less than two hectares of land, which they feared they would lose. The farmers also resented the lack of advance consultation - the law was steam-rollered through parliament without the chance of debate and amendment, and was passed in September. At the same time the government passed a new labour code making it easier to fire workers.  Resistance to both the farm laws and the new labour code led to a general strike in November 2020, by an estimated 250 million farmers and workers.

The protests were therefore a reaction to the government's extension to agriculture of neo-liberal economic policies, which would in practice prioritize corporate interests over the needs of the poor in the name of modernization. But they can also be seen as an impressive display of resistance to the political style and wider agenda promoted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since Modi became prime minister of India in 2014 there has been a clear trend towards increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian government.

This trend has included suppressing the rights of states within the federation, diminishing the role of parliament, harassing and arresting journalists, and trying to control universities and cultural bodies. This authoritarianism is linked to promotion of an intolerant Hindu nationalism, which undermines the rights of religious minorities and often treats links to international activists or organization as sedition.  Modi had by 2020 already arbitrarily annulled the special status, which had been granted to the state of Kashmir, imposing draconian control over it. In late 2019 the government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, which both had the effect of treating India's  population of 200 million Muslims (14 per cent of the population) as second class citizens. This had led to major protests by both Muslims and those opposed to creating religious divisions and in favour of a secular state. The opposition to the farm laws could therefore be seen as a new phase in resisting the trend towards autocracy. Indeed, the laws themselves are authoritarian, forbidding any legal action to contest issues covered by the legislation.  

Opposition to the farm laws by the stat e legislature of Punjab had been met by government measures to block transport of coal and grain to the state, as well as withdrawal of a federal agricultural subsidy for rural development. Most of the farmers who decided to bring their protest to Delhi were Sikhs from the Punjab or from another northern grain growing state, Haryana, though there were also contingents from Gujurat, Uttar Pradesh and Rajastan. The predominantly Sikh identity of the protesters also led the government to treat them as suspect.

International publicity for the farmers' protests, which had not been extensive, increased after 26 January 2021, India's Independence Day, when the farmers organized a tractor rally in the centre of Delhi. A breakaway group took over the symbolic Red Fort and was met by police using tear gas and batons. One protester died and many others were hurt, and an estimated 300 police were also injured, and 200 protesters were arrested and charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy. Eight journalists covering the protests were also arrested and charged with sedition. The government responded as well by barricading the protest camps with concrete and barbed wire, disrupting food and water supplies, and shutting down internet access. An environmental activist, Disha Ravi, who publicly supported the farmers, was seized and taken to Delhi, where she was charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy.. The charges against her were based on her re-tweeting a toolkit for protest, which had been tweeted by climate activist Greta Thunberg to suggest forms of action to the farmers. Thunberg 's tweet was controversial in India and provided the basis for charging Ravi.

Gains Made by Farmers and Future Prospects

Despite the government crackdown on the protest camps, the farmers were in quite a strong position.  The government had felt obliged to enter into a round of negotiations with their representatives, and after these proved abortive the Supreme Court had suspended the farm laws and set up a special Committee to hear the farmers' case. When the farmers refused to cooperate, on the grounds the Committee was clearly biased in favour of the government, the Court suspended the new farm laws in January 2021 for 18 months. The farmers' union leaders later extended their demands beyond repeal of the new farm laws to call for a new law which would require the government to buy all farm produce at a price set and guaranteed by the state.

Moreover, the farmers' movement was itself strong and highly organized. The Punjabi farmers arranged that work should continue on their farms and that the camps should be maintained      

by operating a rotation of personnel at the camps. Women were actively and prominently involved as well as men. The camps themselves were also impressively organized, with over 1500 communal kitchens, a huge tent for meetings, libraries and gyms and use of ingenious technology including solar panels and plans for fans and water coolers when the summer heat arrived later.  The camps received visits from supporting groups, for example students, as well as practical support such as supplies of soap and other essentials by Sikh groups. Campaigning also took place in many others parts of India. There was in addition significant political and practical support from international bodies with related interests, including the Punjabi diaspora, international Sikh bodies, and from farmers and farming organizations.              

Therefore the protest camps survived, despite the disastrous impact of Covid-19 in India in April 2021, which resulted in numerous deaths and near-collapse of medical services. Numbers at the camp diminished for a while - this was also the month for harvesting grain in the Punjab and Haryana.  But the camps were still in place by September 2021, despite hardships suffered. Indeed the protesters said that they were planning to continue until the next national elections in 2024. 

The farmers have extended their campaign to focus on defeating the BJP in state elections. After the BJP lost the elections in West Bengal in May 2021, farmers leaders claimed their role in the electoral campaign had been decisive. Farmers also mobilized in September 2021 in a campaign designed to defeat the ruling BJP in the state assembly election in February/March 2022 in the populous state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP managed to win 67 out of 75 seats in the district (panchayat) in the July 2021 elections, seen as a significant precursor of the assembly elections. However, the farmers' leaders planned to increase protests within the state, and to tour every city and town in the state to attack Modi, and the BJP's attitude towards farmers. Moreover, in western Uttar Pradesh upper caste landlords combined with lower caste farm workers to oppose the farm laws. In the same area Hindu farmers also collaborated with Muslim farmers - despite the legacy of communal riots in 2013.  Both the protesters camped around Delhi and farm organizations in many parts of India appeared, therefore, to have committed themselves to a long struggle with the BJP and Modi's government, aiming not only to repeal the farm laws and secure a favourable alternative, but to depose the BJP from government both within individual states and at the federal level.

The references below includes news reports and analyses of the scope and nature of the protests from August 2020 to September 2021, the protesters' policy goals and the nature of the government responses.  They also include analysis of the farm laws that sparked the protests, the wider agricultural and economic context and the political trend under the BJP government towards autocracy based on Hindu nationalism.

Modi Promises Repeal of Farm Laws on 19 November 2021

The farmers, unexpectedly won their long campaign against the new farm laws when Prime Minister Modi announced on 19 November 2021, a day auspicious for Sikhs, that he would repeal the laws. Modi said he still believed the laws could help farmers, but accepted that he had not managed to convince them. Farmers in the Punjab and Haryana held celebrations to mark their victory, but those in the protest camps around Delhi told reporters that they did not trust the announcement, and a protest leader declared that they would not leave camps until the laws had been formally repealed in parliament. Commentators speculated that the reason for Modi's unexpected decision was concern that his party, the BJP,  might be threatened by Sikh voters in the  forthcoming state elections in the Punjab and, especially, in Uttar Pradesh. currently governed by the BJP, Losing control of India's  most populous state, where farmers were already actively campaigning, could also jeopardise a BJP victory in the subsequent 2024 general election.

India: Journalists Covering Farmer Protests Charged, Human Rights Watch, 02/02/2021,

Critical account of the Indian government's response to the farmers' protest in central Delhi on Independence Day. This response included shutting down the internet, charging six journalists with sedition, promoting communal disharmony and making statements prejudicial to national integration.

Bengali, Shashank ; Parth, M.N., "It Isn't Just Men Who Drive Tractors". Women Help Lead India's Historic Farm Protests, Los Angeles Times, 27/01/2021,

This article explores the role of women in the farmers' protests in the context of 75 per cent of rural women working in agriculture.  The authors note that this sector has been left behind in the boom accompanying the previous three decades of economic liberalization.

See also and

Bikrum, Gill, The Data Harvest, Red Pepper, 2021, pp. 30-33

Gill discusses the Indian farmers' protests in the context of the shift towards neo-liberal global capitalism and the power of Indian agribusiness, aided by new internet platforms and data analytics.

Chatterie, Sritama, Reading Climate Justice through the Indian Farmers' Movement, Edge Effects, 02/03/2021,

This article sets the Indian farmers' movement within the context of climate justice, since farmers, who are a significant proportion of the population, are dependent on rainfall for their crops.  Due to climate change farmers are increasingly affected by changing rainfall patterns and suffering from drought.

Chatteriee, Shritama, Reading Climate Justice through the Indian Farmers’ Movement, Edge Effects, 02/03/2021,

This article positions the Indian farmers’ movement within a conversation about climate justice because a significant demography of farmers in India are dependent on rainfall for the growth of crops. The author highlights that due to uneven rainfall patterns caused by climate change, instances of drought and rainfall are frequent, leading to a feeling of uncertainty about rainfall and sense of insecurity about crops.

Chibber, Ajay, Farm Protests in India. A New Menu Needed, Institute for International Economic Policy, 2021, pp. 17

The author argues that Indian agricultural policy, devised in response to food shortages in the 1960s, relied on a mix of technological solutions to increase yields and a range of pricing measures to support farmers. These policies are out of date, but changing the overall policy is difficult as farmers believe their livelihoods are at stake. This paper considers the issues behind the protests and suggests ways forward.

Chibber, Ajay, Farm Protests in India. A New Menu Needed, Institute for International Economic Policy, 2021, pp. 17

The author argues that Indian agricultural policy, devised in response to food shortages in the 1960s, relied on a mix of technological solutions to increase yields and a range of pricing measures to support farmers. These policies are out of date, but changing the overall policy is difficult as farmers believe their livelihoods are at stake. This paper considers the issues behind the protests and suggests ways forward.

Ellis-Petersen, Hannah, "We Know We Will Win." Farmers in for Long Haul, Guardian Weekly, 2021, pp. 15-17

Provides an account of who is protesting in the camps around Delhi, why the farmers oppose the government's new farm laws, the government's responses to the protests, and future plans. 

Gandbhir, Gaur, India: New Laws will Enslave Farmers, Workers, Enrich Big Business, Green Left Weekly, issue 1292, 11/12/2020, pp. 10-10

This article was written in response to the All India General Strike of 26 November 2020, organized by 10 trade unions and over 250 farmers' organizations, that mobilized over 250 million to protest against the new farm and labour laws passed by the BJP dominated coalition government.  It examines the protests and the laws which gave rise to them.

Gopikutan, Goti ; Naik, Gopal, Deregulation of Agricultural Markets in India, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore - Indian Institute of Management (IIMB), 2021, pp. 19

This paper argues that in principle there is a potential for market reforms to benefit farmers, but that the farm laws passed by the government will in practice benefit 'traders' rather than farmers. Deregulation without 'enabling preconditions' is not likely to help farmers, and may prove counterproductive.

Hundai, Sunny, Why Sikh Farmers' Protests have Sikhs Fearing Violent Attacks, OpenDemocracy, 04/02/2021,

Hundai examines the predominantly Sikh farmers protests centred on Delhi in the context of the history of religious pogroms in India, and notes that fear of persecution has resurfaced within the Sikh community.

Jodkha, Ravinnder, Farmers in India Have Been Protesting for 6 Months. Have they Made any Progress?, The Conversation, 25/05/2021,

Overview of farmers protests round Delhi after six months, including the impact of Covid-19. Jodkha also summarizes why the farmers are protesting and what they had achieved, and also their future plans. The article includes links to more detailed examination of specific issues, such as the role of women.

Kaur, Ravinder, How a Farmers' Protest in India Evolved into a Mass Movement that Refuses to Fade, New Statesman, 19/02/2021,

Kaur explains the social and economic context within which the Modi government introduced the new farm laws. These, he argues, will result in an unending cycle of structural adjustments, disinvestment and privatization, that farmers fear will lead  to debts and dispossession. He outlines how the farmers are, despite intimidation, developing solidarity across caste, class, religion and regional divides.

Khan, Naila ; Usman, Uzair, Modi's Repeal of Farm Laws Isn't Enough, Say Indian Farmers, The Diplomat, 22/11/2021,

The authors explain the significance for Sikhs of the date (19 November) of Modi's surprise announcement, summarize the laws to be repealed, and interview a number of protesters who express their distrust and require proof the laws will no longer apply. 

See also: BBC, 'Farm Laws: India's PM Narendra Modi Repeals Controversial Reforms', 19 November, 2021

Report on Modi's announcement and the laws to be repealed, and on farmers' reactions. Notes celebrations in Punjab and Haryana, but also the refusal to end protest camps until formal repeal by parliament. The report is followed by an analysis by the BBC's India Correspondent.

N.P., Ullekh, In India, Farmers Are Resisting Narendra Modi’s Propaganda Machine, The Nation, 04/02/2021,

An in depth examination of the Indian farmers' resistance to the 2020 agricultural laws passed by Narendra Modi's government.

See also: and

Singh, Navsharan, Holding Out for the Harvest, New Internationalist, issue Nov-Dec, 2021, pp. 28-31

This article explains the new laws which are the focus of the farmers' protest, describes the initial protest journey to Delhi and explains the spirit and organization of the protests and the building of solidarity with other groups, for example by celebrating International Women's Day and May Day to link with women’s and workers' struggles. Singh then engages in an analysis of 'disaster capitalism' including the revision of the labour laws. It concludes that the farmers' movement has become a struggle for 'a more just future for India's dispossessed'.

Singh, Simran, The Farmers' Protests are a Turning Point for India's Democracy - and the World Can No Longer Ignore That, Time, 11/02/2021,

Provides historical background to the Indian farmers protests against the Modi government's 2020 farm laws and draws parallels with earlier movements since the 1970s for stronger government support for agriculture.

Subramanian, Samanth, Tipping Point: How the Rise of Hindu Nationalism is Threatening to Tear India Apart, Guardian Weekly, 28/02/2020, pp. 35-41

This 'long read' article focuses on the nature and goals of Hindu nationalism and the role of the extremist Hindu organization the RSS.  It also makes comparisons with the rise of right wing populism.

See also: ‘Subcontinental Drift: Danger – One Party State’, Economist, 28 November, 2020, pp.20-22.

This article examines in some detail the erosion of judicial independence and the Modi government’s stringent measures against state governments run by parties opposed to the BJP. critical journalists and NGOs, thousands of which have been closed down for receiving foreign funds. It also notes Modi’s emphasis on his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and his aspirations to rebuild Delhi to symbolize imperial-style power.  It compares the autocratic trend under Modi to developments in Hungary, Poland and Turkey.

The demonstrations by thousands of young Nigerians against police and regime brutality, which spread across Nigeria in October 2020, became a significant news story. The national and international interest was due partly to the initial surge of support in Lagos and across the country, but there was also shock over the brutality of the government's response. Over 60 deaths of protesters in three weeks were reported and many hundreds were also injured. The army fired directly at peaceful demonstrators and the police transported thugs (mainly from the north of the country) to attack protesters.

The protests and the official response reflected the fact that Nigeria, despite a strong economy, has had a troubled political record of internal conflicts and authoritarian military rule since independence in 1960. It has over 250 different ethnic groups, and is divided between Islam and Christianity. The main political fault line is between the Islamic north, which has become a stronghold of the military, and other areas. The attempt by the Igbo people to create an independent Biafra in the south-east led to the bitter and destructive Biafran war from 1967-70. Although since 1999 Nigeria had formally become an electoral democracy, the military still tend to control major economic resources and to dominate government. President Muhammadu Buhari, in power in 2020, has a background of military intervention in politics.           

The initial focus of the October 2020 youth protests was the routine brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which had already been strongly criticized both within Nigeria and by international human rights bodies. Amnesty, for example, published two extremely critical reports in 2016 and 2017. The protests began online in 2017 with the #EndSARS campaign, but they had little political impact on the government until early October 2020. Then thousands of young Nigerians took to the streets, initially influenced by calls for demonstrations by two Afro-Pop musicians. Lagos was the centre of the protests, but there were similar demonstrations in cities across the country and transcended ethnic and religious divides. The protesters also received active support from civil society bodies, notably the Feminist Coalition, which helped to initiate the protesters and provide food and medical aid and funds for legal costs. The demands of the demonstrators rapidly extended to misuse of government funds and lack of jobs for the young. The demonstrations were generally nonviolent, but in Lagos some people reacted angrily to the brutal suppression of protest by burning down buildings linked to the federal and regional government.

The demonstrations ended after October 2020. The government seemed initially to be taken aback by the mass protests, and the Vice President made a broadcast early on which seemed to promise that SARS would be disbanded. But after October the government turned to suppression of unrest. One tactic was to suspend the bank accounts of media organizations and civil society groups that had given publicity and support to the protests. This move was countered by the affected organizations turning to use of bitcoin, which the authorities could not directly control. One unanticipated outcome has been that by the summer of 2021 Nigeria has more trade in bitcoin than any country except the US.

Impressive as the October 2020 demonstrations were, it is not clear that they have achieved any long-term success in reducing the corrupt and arbitrary nature of Nigeria's government. The promised disbanding of SARS did not take place. Political attention has also been diverted to areas of social and political violence in different parts of Nigeria, especially in the north which is threatened by militant armed Islamic groups who have repeatedly attacked schools and kidnapped pupils - especially but not exclusively girls.

The references listed below cover various aspects of the 2020 protests, including possible weaknesses, and  some assessment of their longer term impact.   

Nigeria: Crackdown on Police Brutality Protests, Human Rights Watch, 2020

Provides a close examination of the development of the anti-SARS protests, especially between 8-15 October 2020.

See also:

Akinwotu, Emmanuel, Just Stop Killing Us. Young Nigerians Rise Up, Guardian Weekly, 29/10/2020, pp. 15-16

Provides an overview of the reasons for the protests and the initial government response.     

See also: Akinwotu, Emmanuel, 'Nigeria Tried to Ban Bitcoin. How Did It Work Out?', Guardian Weekly, 13 August 2021, pp.25-6.

Akinwotu explains the rising use of bitcoin by the tech-savvy young, and notes how the government clamp down after October 2020 on bank accounts of those supporting the anti-SARS protests fueled this trend.

Ashoka, When Police Brutality and Digital Rights Collide - Lessons from Nigeria, Forbes, 20-11-2020,

Forbes discusses with Ashoka fellow, Gbenga Sesan, how both offline and online mobilization contributed to the build-up of the End SARS protests. The discussion also includes the intersection of police brutality and digital rights in the light of accusations that SARS officials were arresting individuals working in start-ups and stealing their data.

See also:

Aung, Nelly, Nigeria's Next Generation Protest Movement, Foreign Policy, 28/11/2020,

Aung reports on the protests that erupted in Nigeria on 2 October 2020, after a video circulated showing a man killed by police. The protests broke out three years after the online campaign #EndSARS was launched, demanding an end to the squad's indiscriminate violence against young people. She notes the role of two Afro-Pop musicians and feminists in promoting protests, and the rapid extension of demands to encompass misuse of public funds, the unemployment crisis. poor economic infrastructure and bad government.

Aveni, Tofe, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. Nigeria: Has the #EndSARS Movement Come to an End?, The Africa Report, 2021, pp. 6

The author compares the Nigerian movement with Black Lives Matter and discusses within the wider context of Nigerian politics EndSARS has not been successful.

Dambo, Tamar ; Ersoy, Metin ; Auwal, Ahmad Muhammad ; Olorunsola, Victor Oluwafemi ; Olonode, Ayodeji ; Arikewuyo, Abdulgaffar Olawale ; Joseph, Ayodele, Nigeria's hashtagEndSARS Movement and its Implications on Online Protests in Africa's Most Populous Country, Journal of Public Affairs, 2020

This article looks at the claims on social media by Nigerian youth of police abuse, which is well documented in the three-year online EndSARS campaign. The authors examine the limitations of the campaign, which lasted three years with little success.  They explore the main themes of the campaign and consider4 how Nigeria's political environment can hinder successful movement activism.

Dickson, Ajisaffe ; Ojo, Tinuade Adekunbi ; Monyani, Margaret, The impacts of social media on the #EndSARs# youth protests in Nigeria, International Conference of Information Communication Technologies enhanced Social Sciences and Humanities 2021, 2021

The increasing impact of digitalization, especially in Africa, has transformed political, social, economic and business activity. There is therefore a need for rigorous academic debate about the effectiveness of social media platforms for citizen activism. This study focusses on the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria to explore strategies and mechanisms used to try to influence government. The authors conclude that the movement may inspire youth-led movements elsewhere, but also examine how the nature of the Nigerian state resulted in an abrupt end to the protests.

Gaskia, Jaye, Understanding Nigeria's #EndSARS movement, rs21, 26/10/2020,

This article examines how the historical and class character of Nigeria has fueled repression and exploitation, and contributed to the indiscriminate violence used by SARS and its lack of accountability. It also explains how the #EndSARS movement developed.

Ndifon, Naomi, Nigerian Women vs SARS: A Coalition against Police Brutality, Black Women Radicals, 2020

This blog highlights the activism of the Feminist Coalition, a group of young feminists who were  at the forefront of the youth  movement against police brutality. They helped initiate the public protests and provided food, security, mobile toilets and ambulances, as well as hospital services and bail arrangements for protesters.

Ojewale, Oluwole, Youth protests for police reform in Nigeria: What lies ahead for #EndSARS, Brookings, 2020

Ojewale argues that the EndSARS protests, which incorporate demands for human rights and greater democracy, provide an outlet for marginalized young Nigerians to express their grievances against the government. The excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the failure of the government to address them, despite promises of reform, are at the top of the list. This blog provides an in depth analysis of the movement and its causes, and discusses how the protests might affect the 2021 election.

See also:

Okunna, Chinyere, #EndSARProtest. Re-thinking Nigerian Youth and Government Policies, AfriHeritage Policy Working Paper, African Heritage Institute, 2021, pp. 15

Young people, who comprise nearly 34 per cent of Nigeria's, population of over 200 million, are of central importance to its future. This paper examines the 2019 Nigerian National Youth Policy, and argues that #EndSARS was not only a protest against police violence, but 'a desperate reaction' to the long term failure of governments to 'make Nigeria a livable society in general, and to achieve genuine youth development in particular'.

Onubogu, Oge, Protests Test Nigeria’s Democracy and its Leadership in Africa, United States Institute of Peace, 2020

After the explosion of the anti-SARS protests, this analysis argues that the way the Nigerian government responds to these emphatic demands for government accountability and an end to police violence will influence similar struggles across much of Africa, and impact especially on the young. 

See also:

Orabueze, Florence ; Ukaogo, Victor O. ; David-Ojukwu, Ifeyinwa ; Eze, Godstime Irene ; Orabueze, Chiamaka I., Reminiscence on #EndSARS protests of 2020 in Nigeria, Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, Vol. 13, issue 1, 2021, pp. 1-15

This study of the #EndSARS protests that shook Nigeria in October and November 2020 considers how far they can be related to more violent acts of insurgency such as Boko Haram. The study adopts a historical framework and draws on qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore how endemic governmental corruption and 'the re-enslavement and recolonization' of citizens' by political leaders has led to youth rebellion. The authors conclude that protest and violent forms of revolt will not cease until the deep-seated causes are tackled.

See also: Oloyede, F. and A.A. Elega, (2019) 'Exploring Hashtag Activism in Nigeria. A Case of #EndSARS Campaign'. Conference Proceedings: 5th in Communication and Media Studies (CRPC 2018) Famagusta. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, pp. 1-7.