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In Sudan and Hong Kong, protest is changing – and hope is rising

5 19 0

The massive demonstrations of recent weeks in Hong Kong and Sudan may seem to be totally disparate events. But they have more in common than meets the eye. The attempts by the authorities to disperse them with threats of violence or with peaceful promises is part of a wider global crackdown on people taking to the streets. But the creativity of protesters in finding ever new ways of making their voices heard, both online and in the streets, is the real trend to note.

When governments are seen as flawed or repressive, people search for avenues other than just the ballot box. These are the politics of voice and not just of vote, as the Indian political scientist Neera Chandhoke has called it.

But the crackdown on such voices has been widespread and sometimes ferocious. Across the globe, the space for people to protest, to form organisations and to speak the truth to power has been under increasing pressure for more than a decade. From barring foreign funding for NGOs to dispersals of protests or arrests and killings of activists and journalists, these attacks on civic space directly affect and often violate basic human rights, including the freedom to protest. All of this endangers not just democracy but the rule of law and development. No wonder institutions as diverse as the UN high commissioner for human rights and the Davos World........

© The Guardian