Global Opinions

The year of the street protest

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

There’s a lot of talk about “authoritarian resurgence” — the notion that dictators are enjoying a comeback. Yet the millions of protesters who took to the streets in 2019 don’t seem to have gotten the memo. (This story contains graphic content.)

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Hong Kong

Ivan Abreu/Bloomberg

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in June over a proposal to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Six months into the unrest, protesters are insisting the government meet five demands, including complete universal suffrage.

Ivan Abreu/Bloomberg

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Parjanya Christian Holtz for The Washington Post

Moscow

Pavel Golovkin/AP

In Moscow, protests organized by opposition figure Alexei Navalny swelled in July after election officials banned independent candidates from running for the Moscow city council. Police arrested at least 1,000 people and raided a TV studio belonging to Navalny.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Sudan

Muhammad Salah/For The Washington Post

In April, mass protests in Sudan led to the fall of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had held power since 1989. By August, economist Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and pro-democracy protesters. Before he took office, paramilitary forces shot and killed scores of Sudanese demanding civilian rule.

Muhammad Salah/For The Washington Post

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Shahd Bakhit Abdoun via Storyful

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Sudanese Congress via Storyful

Iraq

Hadi Mizban/AP

The largest grass-roots movement in Iraq’s modern history is pushing to overturn the political system. Hundreds have been killed and thousands more wounded since the anti-government demonstrations began in October.

Hadi Mizban/AP

Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen/Reuters

Haidar Hamdani/Afp Via Getty Images

Iran

Vahid Salemi/AP

Iranians initially outraged with a massive hike in gas prices took to the streets in November to show frustration with wider economic and governance problems. Authorities shut down the Internet to try to stop the protests. During the blackout, security forces killed at least 140 people and wounded and arrested thousands more.

Vahid Salemi/AP

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Chile

Jonnathan Oyarzun/AFP/Getty Images

In Chile, demonstrations against a transit fare hike turned into violent clashes over economic inequality. At least 20 people have died, and more than 2,000 have been detained since demonstrations began Oct. 18.

Jonnathan Oyarzun/AFP/Getty Images

Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

Nicaragua

Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

Protests rolled into a second year in Nicaragua, where cuts to the social security program led to nationwide calls for President Daniel Ortega’s resignation. At least 325 people have been killed since the popular uprising began.

Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

Bolivia

Ronaldo Schemidt/Afp Via Getty Images

Nationwide protests unseated Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, who resigned and fled to Mexico in November. Security forces and supporters of the ex-president clashed in La Paz.

Ronaldo Schemidt/Afp Via Getty Images

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Around the world, the threat of arrest, injury or even death has not cowed protesters demanding reforms. In some cases, the movements resulted in dramatic change; in others, leaders refused to listen. Yet we’ve seen again and again that the power of the streets can never be entirely ignored.

Natacha Pisarenko/AP