Connect to share and comment
Arab Spring uprisings get all the ink, but there are others you should know about.
Misagh Parsa, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, said these lesser-known struggles often grind on in vain because they lack the perfect storm of factors seen in the Arab uprisings — a merging of concerns over money, democracy, disenfranchisement, equality, class and civil liberties.
"All of these things combine and you bring in the internet, cell phones and all of this new technology, and because you add the working class conflicts and combine them, you get a lot of conflicts and that makes them very explosive," he told GlobalPost.
"These crises touch a lot of people, and when they touch a lot of people they can consolidate and come out and that becomes very impressive to the media and the world."
T. Kumar, Amnesty's advocacy director for Asia and Pacific, agrees. He said that because many of the unreported uprisings center on the problems faced by easily-suppressed ethnic minorities, popular support is likely to remain elusive.
"What is happening in the Middle East and North Africa is directly connected to national grievances where an overwhelming majority is fighting for human rights and democracy. When it comes to these smaller situations, they are overwhelmingly ethnic conflicts. These people are not the majority, so governments can easily control them — even a democratically elected government, which can often win votes by crushing minorities."
That said, change sweeping the Arab world has helped kindle new flames under a long-running insurrection in at least one country that until now has lacked the confluence of anger described by Parsa.
Dimpho Motsamai, an analyst at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, told GlobalPost that while opposition to Swaziland's government was fragmented and somewhat unrepresentative of the wider population, recent events in the Arab world had spurred it to action.
And despite a dormant political scene and a crackdown on political dissent that, in addition to alarming Amnesty, has left many fearful of aligning themselves with protest movements, opposition does appear to be growing.
But, she said, whereas people in the Arab world have risen up against autocratic leaders seen as disconnected and contemptuous of their people, Swazis' respect for sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III, may spare him the same fate as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak or Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"There has been a sense of shared solidarity with the monarchy on the basis of culture and similarity," she said. "There is opposition to the way the current regime is governing the country, but not for the monarchy, and that makes the situation very difficult."