World News: Different Parts of the World Held Protests During the Pandemic

Belarus protesters hold peaceful line with flowers and folk songs

Police crackdown appears to have only breathed new life into resistance to Lukashenko rule

Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have taken to the streets of Minsk, throwing down a renewed challenge to the Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced sustained discontent over what appeared to be a rigged election result on Sunday.

Four nights of ruthless police violence against protesters was meant to force Belarusians into accepting Lukashenko’s victory, but events on Thursday suggested the response had instead breathed new life into the insurrectionary mood.

“We are here to stop the violence. We will never be violent, we do not want a revolution, we just need Lukashenko to leave,” said Daria, 27, a pharmacist, who was waving a bunch of flowers among a crowd walking through Minsk on Thursday afternoon. “We would like there to be negotiations, but if he was going to negotiate then he would have done so already. I think he just has to leave now.”

Belarusian authorities have detained more than 6,700 people since the vote, often subjecting demonstrators to beatings, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Lukashenko has dismissed the protesters as unemployed extremists, and state television has shown footage of severely beaten youths offering wide-eyed recantations for taking part in the protests.


Hundreds protest against US virus rules amid spreading resentment

CONCORD (UNITED STATES) - Hundreds protested Saturday in cities across America against coronavirus-related lockdowns -- with encouragement from President Donald Trump -- as resentment grows against the crippling economic cost of confinement.

An estimated 400 people gathered under a cold rain in Concord, New Hampshire -- many on foot while others remained in their cars -- to send a message that extended quarantines were not necessary in a state with relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The crowd included several armed men wearing military-style uniforms, with their faces covered.

In Texas, more than 250 people rallied outside the State Capitol in Austin, including far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the Infowars site, who rolled up in a tank-like truck.

"It's time to reopen Texas, it's time to let people work, it's time for them to let voluntary interaction and good sense rule the day, not government force," said Justin Greiss, an activist with Young Americans for Liberty.


In Thailand, Students Take on the Military (and ‘Death Eaters’)

Thousands of young people, borrowing from Harry Potter and other pop culture touchstones, are calling on the army and its allies to get out of politics.

BANGKOK — Her hair is tucked back with rhinestone bobby pins. Owlish glasses frame her face, and her school uniform is neatly pressed.

Benjamaporn Nivas, 15, hardly looks like a rebel. But she is on the forefront of a youth revolt in Thailand against the powerful military’s influence in schools and society in general. Earlier this year, students began protesting strict school rules imposed by past military regimes, such as requiring boys to wear crew cuts and girls to crop their hair at their earlobes.

The protests have since grown, taking on graver issues like the disappearance of Thai dissidents. For weeks now, thousands of students, many dressed in demure school uniforms or as pop culture icons (like a Japanese animated hamster), have staged rallies across the country, urging the armed forces and their allies to withdraw from politics and respect human rights.

Over the weekend and on Monday, more large crowds gathered to support young protest leaders who had been briefly detained, defying warnings from the police that they, too, were breaking the law.


Thousands rally in Turkey to demand end of violence against women

Women in several cities call government to not withdraw from landmark treaty key to combating rising domestic violence.

Thousands of women have taken to the streets of several Turkish cities to protest against gender-based violence and demand the country remain a signatory to an international pact against such attacks.

The rallies on Wednesday were the biggest in recent weeks amid growing anger about the rising number of women killed by men in recent years and speculation that Turkey might withdraw from the 2011 Council of Europe accord, known as the Istanbul Convention.

The convention, which came into force in 2014, is the world's first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women - from marital rape to female genital mutilation. Turkey was the first country to ratify it.

In Istanbul, hundreds of women rallied in support of the accord, holding placards saying "Women will not forgive violence", "Apply the Istanbul Convention" and "Long live women's solidarity".

In Izmir, police intervened to stop a women's rally, and dozens chose to start a sit-in protest, women's rights group Nar Women's Solidarity said on Twitter. The group said 10 women had been detained.

There were also protests in Ankara and in the southern cities of Adana and Antalya.


China Is Pushing Through a Controversial National Security Law for Hong Kong. Here’s What to Know

hinese authorities announced on Thursday plans to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature to enact a national security law that pro-democracy campaigners say is aimed at cracking down on dissent in the city.

A motion to enable the drafting of the law—which targets secession, sedition, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong—was brought before the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s lawmaking body, at its annual meeting in Beijing on Friday.

“National security is the bedrock underpinning a country’s stability,” NPC spokesman Zhang Yesui told media in Beijing on Thursday. “Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots.”

The introduction of the legislation has sparked fear and outrage from pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong, who say that Beijing has reneged on promises made it made when it took back the former British colony in 1997. Hong Kong was guaranteed a high level of autonomy and an independent judiciary for a period of 50 years under a political model dubbed “one country, two systems.”

“This is the end of Hong Kong. This is the end of one country, two systems. Make no mistake about it,” pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok told TIME.

Here’s what to know about the contentious national security law.

What is it?

Under Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the mini-constitution governing the territory, the Hong Kong government must enact laws to prohibit acts like treason, secession, sedition, and subversion against the Chinese government and the theft of state secrets. The local government’s failure to get such laws through the legislature is the reason that Beijing now takes matters into its own hands.

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