Author: kikocris

Recent and Current Riots and Protest Around the World

Since there has been a lot of attention towards the most recent Ukrainian and Syrian riots and protest, I thought it would be good to go through some of the major riots and protest in recent time and why they happened, in a short description. I know this is not the full picture of why and what is actually going on in these countries, but I think it is imperative to inform people that these kind of acts are going on all around the world currently.

Most of my information is taken from Wikipedia, which I deem an excellent source, and mostly centralized around this particular page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_protests

Let me start with the most recent ones

Venezuelan-protest

We say NO to dictatorship

2014: the Venezuelan protest, also referred to as the Venezuelan Spring, this protest started on January 7th 2014 and has continued since, the protests are mainly about insane inflation and scarcity of common goods. There s much more to this protest such as highly increasing crime rates and inability of the government to intervene.

For more info about the protests in Venezuela, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Venezuelan_protests

The Tuzla protest. Poverty, rampant crime and a constant state of frozen conflict seemed to have become a permanent new normality, with no end in sight.

The Tuzla protest. Poverty, rampant crime and a constant state of frozen conflict seemed to have become a permanent new normality, with no end in sight.

2014 the Bosnian and Herzegovina protest, this highly violent protest started on February 4th 2014 and has continued since. The reason behind is the selling of major companies in the city of Tuzla to private investors who in turn sold of the assets of the companies and filed for bankruptcy, not being able to pay the employees and creating massive unemployment rates in a country already struggling with unemployment.

For more information on the protest, you can visit: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/07/bosnia-herzegovina-wave-violent-protests

Men carry a fellow protester with a rubber bullet wound during the protest.

Men carry a fellow protester with a rubber bullet wound during the protest.

A Buddhist monk puts on a gas mask as riot police use water cannons and tear gas.

A Buddhist monk puts on a gas mask as riot police use water cannons and tear gas.

2013 the Thailand protest. This protest started on October 31st 2013 and has continued since. the protest was spurred by a billed that proposed the pardon of the murder charges against Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban two highly influential politicians in Thailand, and would also dismiss the corruption charges against the former prime minister of Thailand  Thaksin Shinawatra.

For more info regarding the protests in Thailand, visit: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25190314

Berkut-special-forces-of-the-Ukrainian-police-throw-a-Molotov-cocktail-at-protesters-3164345

The special Ukrainian forces, known as Berkut, throw a Molotov cocktail at protesters.

2013 the Ukrainian protest, also referred to as Euromaidan. This protest in general happened because the Ukrainian government suspended preparations for signing an Association Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, in favor of closer economic relations with Russia. The protest has since become about more and has become bigger since the Ukrainian government decided to use live ammunition against protesters and a ever growing police brutality towards the protesters.

Euromaidan

The Central Square in Kiev before and after the protests

For more detailed information about the Euromaidan (including number of casualties and the time-lapse of the event), visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25182823

For more information about the Million People March, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_People_March

2013 the Philippine protest, also referred to as Million People March, this protest only occurred on 4 days in row from August 22–26, 2013. This protest was because of pork barrel scheme run by the government in which political funding schemes was invented to benefit certain politicians. The main protest is over, but is only the first wave of activity from the Philippian people as they continue to fight for their cause.

2013 Turkey protest started back on May 27th 2013. The initial cause behind the protest was because the Turkish government wanted to remake the last green area in Istanbul to a shopping center, however the protest spurred when the police violently evicted a sit-in protest in the park.

For more info about the protest in Turkey, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_protests_in_Turkey

2013 the Romanian demonstrations also referred to as the Romanian social unrest. This demonstration started on January 11th 2013 and has continued since although not continually but in different parts of the country and with different causes, the demonstration spurred because of the conditions in Romania with such things as unpaid wages, work conditions, mass layoffs, low salaries, corruption and a general inability to act from the governments side, or at least to come up with effective methods of dealing with the growing problems facing Romania.

The 2 protests in Bulgaria in 2013. The first was against the Borisov cabinet that started on january 28th 2013 and ended on march 16th 2013, and ended with the resignation of Boyko Borisov government on 20 February 2013.

The second Bulgarian protest, called the Bulgarian protests against the Oresharski cabinet, started on may 28th, however the demonstration turned large scale on june 14th 2013, the demonstration was spurred because of corruption in the government and failure to facilitate common democratic activities.

For more information about the protests against the Borisov cabinet, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Bulgarian_protests_against_the_Borisov_cabinet

For more information about the protests against the Oresharski cabinet, visit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013%E2%80%9314_Bulgarian_protests_against_the_Oresharski_cabinet

These are the major protests that have been started in either 2013 or 2014. In the next part I will try and cover such protest as the Spanish protests, the Arab spring and other important and significant protests.

Why should I care?

Disclaimer

The word “politic” is enough to scare everyone away from any text or person. But, before closing this tab or scrolling down the page – give it a try. It is not a dry subject as it is usually depicted to us or perceived by us. Here, I have written down my opinion on involving young people into politics and how that can lead to social change. No empty promises, no accusations, no radical opinions – just some facts and points of view. Bear with me and feel free to challenge what is written, because “It’s better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it”.

Allergy to Politics and Politicians

Getting youth involved in politics is, probably, among the most challenging tasks that any youth organization could take on. This is due to the fact that nowadays the young generations don’t really have faith in the politicians and other governmental institutions. And who can blame us? After witnessing so many disappointments in the people “on the top” and so many pointless revolutions and promises, one naturally assumes that all that politicians are truly good at are words and speeches filled with “Yes, we can!” and “We need (bring) a change!” Unfortunately, the only change the electorate notices is the steadily increasing proportion of change in their pockets. Since it is easier for us to remember the bad things that happen with us rather than the progress, it is somehow natural that people choose to focus on the unreached expectations and commitments made by the politicians. I’m not trying to act as an advocate for the tricksters that try to crawl up the ladder of power and social status, because, unfortunately they still comprise a large portion of those from the stands yelling slogans of social equality, hope of deliverance and sometimes even, promises of building utopias.

A “Comfortably Numb” Attitude

What the youth fails to see nowadays, in my opinion, is the somehow banal and obvious reality that we’re the “next in line”. This reality that we chose to build upon the idea of representative democracy cannot be created in “that fair way” we all want it to be, and the lack of which disappoints us way too often. And this is mainly because we refuse to participate in this important and crucial process of creating our social, legal and even moral framework by making our voices heard. The main (read “preferred”) argument we choose to bring up is “My vote (read “voice”) doesn’t matter – what can one vote (read “voice” again) change?! It’s not worth the bother.” Without trying to seem overly optimistic or dreamy, I would like to ask the same people “How can all those ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on the social portals change the lives of the children with cancer or the starving ones in Africa?” Feeling under siege, the natural response I hear back mostly is “Well, there are certain benefits: raising awareness about social inequality; or, perhaps, it can push a person to discover his inner philanthropist; it brings people of the same interest together – it creates stronger networks; etc.” The next question arises in my head naturally – how come then we don’t see the similarity between the goals of political organizations and the above answers of the defensively inactive youth (and not only)? Again, without trying to come across as a social expert or a contrarian, I would like to challenge these people on their BS – the truth behind your answer is the fact that it’s just easier to make one feel better about himself through a click rather than actually getting up from his posterior and the comfortably numbing pleasures of the modern life and actually do something. Well, my dear friends, as much as I share your perspective on comfort, there is a risk that without getting involved, the definition of a comfortable life might be “re-designed” into something that not all of us – the “facebook benefactors” – will agree with. I don’t want to scare anyone into taking action and responsibility for the creation of our common future – time doesn’t really care about us – it will come and go as it always did, but I urge the young generations to keep in mind the winners write and define history, and the model of our government makes it so much easier to choose like-minded people to define “the rules” of the social game, so it is so much easier for all of us to be winners, and not only those radical-minded people who wage war with other social classes, fueled by xenophobia, fear of change or the complex of superiority.

I-do-care

Youth and Voting in DK

And now, to get to more tangible and statistically measurable information, November 2013 marked a special period in the political and social processes in Denmark – the regional elections took place. The democratic process offered the possibility to elect representatives for the seats in the City Councils of all the regions in Denmark. Flyers and posters, video-clips and radio-ads, free flowers and free speeches in the town-squares – all of the sudden, we were all besieged by this flux of promises, strong words, lures and intimidations regarding the precarious state of this-and-that policy, tax expenditures and other complex and multi-faced notions. The set up was usual for this particular period in the political life of a country – nothing new under the sun. One of the most actual problems for the structures responsible for social engagement was the low participation-rate of the youth in the elections. This is not a newly emerging occurrence. It is somewhat similar to the 2009 statistics – when only 1 in 4 youth between the ages of 18 and 25 showed up to the voting booths.

Benefits of Having a Presence at the Voting Booth

I urge the reader not to misinterpret the data as a lack of interest of the Danish youth in the political process. Taking account of the encounters that I have had with Danish youth, I would like to point out the exact opposite – they seem to be more interested in the fate of their country (which is natural and healthy). At the same time, there’s about 15 000 foreign students studying all across Denmark, and most of them don’t even know that they have the possibility to vote for the City Council of the town where they have the residence. Thus, they did not bother to participate – hence the statistics. And even if they know, most of them gave the standard answers discussed above, plus the disarming argument that “I don’t plan on staying in Denmark for too long – why should I even bother!? I would rather focus my efforts on finding a job/my studies/my hobbies/etc. – It has a higher pay-off” True that, but most of them miss to understand and see certain details – all these privileges, such as: studying for free here, certain tax benefits, the ability to study Danish for free at the language schools, the good wages and the healthy work environment and so on, are due to laws that the local and national government – that representative government that people vote for, to represent them and their interests. For example, there is a certain Danish political party that believes that foreigners cause nothing but trouble in this country. That’s why they are trying to push certain laws in the Parliament to limit the access of foreigners to come to Denmark, to limit certain benefits that the foreigners have, and even to make it easier to send us “back from where we came from.” And some of these laws are slowly being applied. So, foreigners (students and not only), hold on tight to your pants! The main reason why this party manages to achieve their goals is because their supporters know that this is the way to make things work in here, therefore this party represents a considerably large portion of the Danish Parliament. So, why then we wouldn’t try and stand our ground? Especially, because this is not necessarily the opinion and attitude of the majority of the Danes. We deserve to respect the work and vision of those people who worked to make it possible for us to get here in search of a better education, life, place, etc. and help maintain it.

Take Responsibility!

I believe that in the globalized world we all live in there should be no place for such radical attitudes and ideas. That’s why I encourage the (young) readers to get informed about the political life – no, not live with it, but know it – and make their voices heard in the elections that will take place this spring for the EU Parliament. In this case, my dear reader, there is no place for the argument that your voice will not affect anything. The EU Parliament makes decisions and policies that affect the whole EU – the country where you might be coming from or where your family lives and the one you are living in currently. Take responsibility and, as Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

“House of Cards” vs. “The West Wing”

Bloody hands in the House of Cards

Bloody hands of the politicians in the House of Cards

Since the new season of house of cards was released on the 14. Of February on Netflix and the major media storm that has been happening around this epic television series. I just wanted to remind people that politics isn’t always about backstabbing and doing what you can to get to the top, there are politicians that are truly there to try and help people.

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Don’t get me wrong, as a politically interested person I think house of cards is a brilliant series and deserves all the credit that it is currently getting, Kevin Spacey is brilliant in the role of the ruthless pragmatist Frank Underwood. But the show does depict politicians as either ruthless cunning people that will do anything to get ahead, or rather dimwitted politicians that are just a pawn in the game.

This is a reminder of the other brilliant show called “The West Wing” which premiered back in 1999 and continued until 2006, this show, shows a much nicer and ideological side of politics, in this show the people running the country actually do it because they feel they can help the people, or at least try and help the people in their vision. In this show even the “bad” guys are depicted as “good” or at least with the right intentions.Image

The political game is shown in “The West Wing”, but with the intention that sometimes politicians have to play the game in order to get their views through, or even to get their bills through. But “The West Wing” is what I would consider the more optimistic of the 2 shows.

I have decided to compare the shows because I feel they have similarities and differences, but both depict how politics are handled in the white house and in congress.

For me the latter shows what the masses thought of politics back when the show aired first, the president at that moment was Bill Clinton, who was a more or less well liked president, and only had 1 or 2 major hiccups in his carrier, a blowjob and that is about it. Whereas now I think people see what politics has become and how lobbyism and corporate interest play a major role in the forming of politics, and this is what “House of Cards” quite well depicts.

For me it is just important to still have the optimistic view on politics, this is because we are constantly over-flooded with how politicians lie or can’t keep to their promises and are only catering to the corporations. I wish politics were more like in “The West Wing”, but I am afraid I have to admit that politics has become more about what “House of Cards” is about.

So I just wanted to remind people that there are still positive sides to politics and that if we can come back to the ideals and ideological opinions of the west wing we can overcome the power mongering that politics has become.