Twitter Revolution. YouTube: 23 minutes
Notes and links about so-called Twitter Revolutions and other political revolts
From Dictatorships to Democracy, a guide to political revolt by Gene Sharp. Download PDF
Vulnerability index: Economist Intelligence Unit index of vulnerability to political revolt.
CIA World Factbook: See detailed economic, political and demographic information about countries of the world.
- Moldova civil unrest in 2009. Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) won a majority of seats. Opposition claimed fraud.
- Election protests in Iran in 2009-2010. Also called Green Revolution and Facebook Revolution. This followed the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Washington Post: “The State Department asked social-networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens as they took to the streets to protest Friday’s reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
- Revolt in Tunisia in 2010-2011. Also called Jasmine Revolution and Wikileaks Revolution. Government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fell after 23 years. Ethan Zuckerman wrote: “The protests began weeks earlier in the central city of Sidi Bouzid, sparked by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate whose informal vegetable stall was shuttered by the police. His despair exemplified the frustration that many Tunisians felt with their contracting economy, high levels of unemployment and inequality, censored media and Internet, and widespread corruption. Protests spread from city to city, with trade unions, lawyers, and countless unemployed Tunisian youth demanding a change to an economic system that appeared to benefit a small number of families close to power and leave ordinary citizens behind.
…social media likely played a significant role in the events that have unfolded in the past month in Tunisia…”
- Egyptian Revolution in 2011. Government of Hosni Mubarak ended after 30 years. YouTube video: Visualization of Egyptian Revolution on Twitter.
What it was: Series of protests and political events in Ukraine from November 2004 to January 2005.
Trigger: Opposition claimed fraud in run-off vote of the Oct. 31, 2004, Ukrainian presidential election. Viktor Yushchenko ran against Viktor Yanukovych in the race. Yanukovych was declared the winner with 39.32 percent of the vote over 39.87 percent for Yushchenko.
Role of media: Cellphones and text messages are believed to have played an important role in the events.
What happened: Student activists staged protests demanding a clean vote.
Activists in each of these movements were funded and trained in tactics of political organization and nonviolent resistance by a coalition of Western pollsters and professional consultants funded by a range of Western government and non-government agencies. According to The Guardian, these include the U.S. State Department and USAID along with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the Bilderberg Group, the NGO Freedom House and George Soros’s Open Society Institute. The National Endowment for Democracy, a foundation supported by the U.S. government, has supported non-governmental democracy-building efforts in Ukraine since 1988. Writings on nonviolent struggle by Gene Sharp formed the strategic basis of the student campaigns.
Kuchma tapes: “From 1998 to 2000, Kuchma’s bodyguard and former KGB employee, Mykola Mel’nychenko, bugged Kuchma’s office and turned over the recordings to an opposition member of the Ukraine Parliament. The release of the tapes – dubbed “Kuchmagate” by the Ukrainian press – supposedly revealed Kuchma approving the sale of radar systems to Saddam Hussein and ordering the director of Ukraine’s intelligence agency to “take care” of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, who had been following the government’s connections to illegal arms sales, among other allegations,” Wikipedia says.
“In September 2000 journalist Georgiy Gongadze disappeared and his headless corpse was found mutilated on 3 November 2000. On 28 November, opposition politician Oleksandr Moroz publicised the tape recordings implicating Kuchma in Gongadze’s murder. In 2005 the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office instigated criminal proceedings against Kuchma and members of his former administration in connection with the murder of Gongadze. It is rumored, however, that Kuchma had been unofficially granted immunity from prosecution in return for his graceful departure from office in 2005.”
Outcome: Revote ordered. Yushchenko won with 52 percent of the vote over Yanukovych, who had 44 percent. Yushchenko was sworn in on January 23, 2005.
Intrigue: “In September 2004, Yushchenko suffered dioxin poisoning under mysterious circumstances. While he survived and returned to the campaign trail, the poisoning undermined his health and altered his appearance dramatically (his face remains disfigured by the consequences to this day),” Wikipedia says.
How Obama’s Internet Campaign Changed Politics. New York Times:
One of the many ways that the election of Barack Obama as president has echoed that of John F. Kennedy is his use of a new medium that will forever change politics. For Mr. Kennedy, it was television. For Mr. Obama, it is the Internet.
“Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee,” said Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post.