“A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of men” -Tacitus
That desire has been expressed throughout history. That desire has once again risen in Iran and China. Thousands have gathered in the streets of Iran and China for different reasons, but share a common goal: freedom. Their chants for freedom sent a larger message. Oppression is never victorious to freedom.
The death of Mahsa Amini has stunned Iran beyond a point of potential return to normalcy. Mahsa Amini was killed by Iran’s morality policy for not covering her head with a hijab. The video of her being beaten surfaced online prompting massive outrage. Even weeks after her death thousands are still protesting, calling for democracy and the abolishment of the tyrannical government in Iran.
Her death was only a catalyst for an already angered public. Iran has historically been ranked as a ‘moderate’ autocracy. Throughout its history, the government has taken political prisoners who disagree with it captive. Furthermore, the country has seen multiple protests in the past decade, resulting in the arrests and deaths of hundreds of protesters.
In 2012, protests occurred because of election fraud and the lack of freedom of speech. In 2017, 2019, and 2020 protests occurred for similar reasons including government corruption and human rights violations. These protests were shut down, however, the recent protests have been near impossible to stop. As the government has used more force to stop the protests, the louder the voices have grown. Chants of freedom are still echoing in the streets of Iran in unison against the oppressive government.
Iran is not the only nation where an oppressive government exists to cease freedom from existing. China, a nation with an oppressive form of government, has found itself facing massive protests in recent days as well.
These protests started against China’s ‘Zero COVID’ policy. The Zero COVID policy has put major cities and companies into lockdown after a single positive COVID case. This has forced millions of citizens into lockdown for weeks, and at times, even months. China has mainly done this due to low vaccination rates and less effective vaccines being available.
These lockdowns, which were strictly enforced, caused massive tension between the government and the people. These tensions escalated when a deadly fire occurred in a Chinese city under lockdown but firefighters were unable to respond due to street level restrictions to prevent residents from leaving.
There was a video that emerged of the incident showing the fire raging while firefighters struggled. This prompted massive outrage and caused many to flow into the street calling for an end to the Zero COVID policy. This is a rare example of protests in China given the country’s strict surveillance measures against citizens unloyal to the government.
Eventually, a couple of days later, Foxconn workers in China began a protest against the Zero COVID policies as well. Foxconn is one of the largest corporations in China, placing immense political and economical pressure on China.
In recent days, China has had to move back on its Zero COVID policies. President Xi Jinping has stepped back on his promise of keeping the Zero COVID policy in place as he clings onto power. China had to step back and listen to the voice of its citizens despite it not being a democracy. Once again, the chants of freedom won over the oppression of the government.