This week marks 30 years since the Berlin wall fell and protestors streamed from the formerly closed-off, Soviet-controlled East Berlin into democratic West Berlin. The social and political movement in 1989 that ended the existence of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe was sparked by regular people taking to the streets and demanding change. Thirty years later, similar movements have arisen in multiple countries. Over the last several weeks, protests in Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, Haiti, and Bolivia have followed on the heels of the ongoing public protests in Hong Kong (see our previous Current Event Resource for more on Hong Kong). In many of these countries, young people, students, and everyday workers began the protests based on injustices they felt their governments had forced upon them. Some of the protests center around government corruption or autocratic rule. Some of the protests are based on economic oppression and long-lasting poverty. In all cases, people are risking their jobs, and sometimes their lives, to protest against governments they believe must be radically changed. Recently, some of the embattled governments have responded by violently attempting to quell the protests, sometimes eliciting violent responses in return. The protestors consider it their right and duty to speak out and resist governments they believe must change. But others may see their actions as provoking unrest, disturbing the lives of others, or even of overthrowing elected governments. How should we, as members of a democracy, respond when we witness others fighting for more democracy in their country?
- What conditions do you think can cause thousands of citizens to take to the streets of their country to protest their government?
- What role (if any) do outside countries have when a government violently responds to its citizens who are protesting?
- How successful or powerful do you believe mass protests can be for changing governments?
- Consider recent US Student walkouts and protests. They have never reached the point that the current global protests have. Why not? What is the difference?
- If you were to pick one of the countries experiencing mass unrest right now and examine the conditions there, what solutions might you propose to de-escalate the situation?
- How should we, as citizens of a democracy, treat those who want to protest the government, even if we disagree with them?
- Is there more we could add to our Constitution that might further protect protesters?
Recent News Articles:
The Middle East:
Lebanon Protests Explained – Amnesty International, Nov. 11, 2019
Iraq protests death toll rises to 319 with nearly 15,000 injured – CNN, Nov. 10, 2019
Amid economic despair, young Lebanese see only two options: Protest or leave – Washington Post, Nov. 9, 2019
Lebanon protests: How WhatsApp tax anger revealed a much deeper crisis – BBC, Nov. 7, 2019
Iraq: 4 protesters killed in Baghdad; key south port closed again – Al Jazeera, Nov. 7, 2019
Lebanon students skip school as protesters eye state institutions – Al Jazeera, Nov. 6, 2019
Protests in Iraq reveal a long-simmering anger at Iran – Associated Press, Nov. 6, 2019
Photos: A Month of Anti-government Protests in Iraq – The Atlantic, Nov. 5, 2019
‘They Have Stolen Everything From Us’: Iraq’s Anti-Government Protests Continue – NPR, Nov. 5, 2019
Why Protesters in Lebanon Are Taking to the Streets – Foreign Policy Magazine, Nov. 4, 2019
Photos: Anti-Government Protests in Lebanon – The Atlantic, Oct. 24, 2019
Latin & South America:
Chilean police officer arrested after shooting students at protest – The Guardian, Nov. 7, 2019
Chile protests: Concerns grow over human rights abuses – BBC, Nov. 7, 2019
‘Chile Woke Up’: Dictatorship’s Legacy of Inequality Triggers Mass Protests – The New York Times, Nov. 3, 2019
Why Are There Mass Protests in Chile? – GQ Magazine, Oct. 30, 2019
How a $0.04 metro fare price hike sparked massive unrest in Chile – Vox News, Oct. 29, 2019
Latin America’s Protests Are Likely to Fail – Foreign Policy Magazine, Nov. 8, 2019
Pinochet Still Looms Large in Chilean Politics – Foreign Policy Magazine, Nov. 5, 2019
Editorial: Lebanon’s exciting and dangerous demands for change – The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2, 2019
The Guardian view on Lebanon and Chile: too little, too late for protesters – The Guaridan, Oct. 29, 2019
Geography/Maps and Geography News:
Lebanese are protesting in all regions of the country, not just Beirut. Here’s why that matters. – Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2019
Protesters form human chain across Lebanon – The Guardian, Oct. 27, 2019
Iraqi protesters demand constitutional change. Can they make it happen? – Washington Post, Nov. 7, 2019
Chile protests: Chileans demand new constitution amid unrest – Al Jazeera, Nov. 4, 2019
Supreme Court Cases:
Edwards v. South Carolina (1962) – protest and free speech rights extend to the states
Tinker v. DesMoines (1968) – students’ right to political speech & protest
Texas v. Johnson (1989) – burning the American Flag in protest
Morse v. Frederick (2007) – students’ speech off campus
Lesson Plans on this topic:
Chile protests for greater economic equality – PBS Newshour Lesson & Video
The Judge and the General – Human Rights Violations in Chile – PBS
Understanding “Protest” – University of Washington
Lesson Plans regarding Media & News Literacy (general):
Media Literacy Resources – Newseum
News & Media Literacy Lessons – Common Sense
Media Misinformation, Viral Deception, and “Fake News” – University of Wyoming
Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News – New York Times Lessons