Unsubdued by coronavirus, the people's anger raged across five continents from protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to those against anti-Muslim bigotry. We look back on 2020's biggest revolts and most significant demonstrations:

GLOBAL MOVEMENTS

#BlackLivesMatter protests

Images of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, until he died sparked protests from Amsterdam to Nairobi, exposing deeper grievances among demonstrators over strained race relations in their own countries.

Major demonstrations in solidarity with Floyd protesters erupted in multiple countries, including Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere. Protests were also held in several African and Asian countries. 

The dying words of Floyd, "I can't breathe", became a rallying cry in a global outpouring of rage, drawing crowds by the thousands to the streets despite health hazards from the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Thousands around the world join US #BlackLivesMatter protests

George Floyd, who later died in police custody, speaks with former police officer Thomas Lane during his detention, in a still image from Lane's body camera video in Minneapolis, US on May 25, 2020.
George Floyd, who later died in police custody, speaks with former police officer Thomas Lane during his detention, in a still image from Lane's body camera video in Minneapolis, US on May 25, 2020. (Reuters)

Protests over demonisation of Muslims

Tens of thousands of Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Bangladesh, Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, India and elsewhere protested over French President Emmanuel Macron's vow to protect the right to draw caricatures insulting Prophet Muhammad.

The caricatures, republished by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the trial for the deadly 2015 attack against the publication, outraged Muslims across the world who consider depictions of the prophet blasphemous.

The protests flared further when Macron described Islam as a religion "in crisis" globally.

READ MORE: Anti-France rallies held in several countries as Macron backlash widens

Shia Muslim supporters of the Imamia Student Organization set fire to France's flag and banner of French President Emmanuel Macron, during anti-Macron protests in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 1, 2020.
Shia Muslim supporters of the Imamia Student Organization set fire to France's flag and banner of French President Emmanuel Macron, during anti-Macron protests in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Climate protests

Due to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic sweeping 2020, climate protests and environmental campaigns were mostly held online, along with a large number of demonstrations protesting political and economic policies across the world.

Climate protests and strikes were held both in streets and on social media around the world in 2020 by stressing the threats to liveable planet and ecosystems, demanding from world leaders to address and take urgent actions on climate change and to keep their promises on global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Fridays for Future movement took a lead in such demonstrations during 2020 while the 350.org and Sunrise movements, Greenpeace, and the Extinction Rebellion group were also involved in many actions over climate-related activities.

Fridays for Future activists hold placards as they protest calling for a
Fridays for Future activists hold placards as they protest calling for a "Global Day of Climate Action" in Kyiv, Ukraine September 25, 2020. (Reuters)

Covid-19 medics protest 

Nurses in several countries demonstrated this year against their working conditions, low salaries, and complaining that they do not have adequate protective gear such as gloves and masks. to safely treat Covid-19 patients.

Doctors and medical staff were revered as heroes by the public during 2020. But they sought more than recognition and held protests to demand pay rises and better facilities to deal with Covid-19. 

In many instances, medical staff took to the streets to demand more personal protective equipment as they tackled the contagious virus without sufficient masks and other gear. 

Nurses protest for better working conditions following the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, in Milan's Piazza Duomo square, on Monday, June 15, 2020. Writing on the sign reads in Italian
Nurses protest for better working conditions following the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, in Milan's Piazza Duomo square, on Monday, June 15, 2020. Writing on the sign reads in Italian "Don't call us heroes, call us nurses!" (AP)

ASIA

Hong Kong

Anti-China protests

2019 onward

China imposed a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong on June 30 but the protests against Beijing's involvement were rekindled in 2019 with the city's plans to introduce a law allowing the extradition of Hong Kong residents and visitors to China.

The bill was aborted later but not before it sparked a mass movement in March 2019 over concerns that mainland China was eroding freedoms promised to the semi-autonomous state by its British colonial rulers in 1997.

What followed was Beijing's crackdown on dissidents, resulting in the now infamous national security law of Hong Kong which sparked protests and subsequent detentions in 2020.

Hundreds have been arrested at the rallies against the security law this year.

The arrests of leading opposition figures and the expulsion of local lawmakers – prompting the entire opposition camp to resign – led numerous countries to curtail legal cooperation with Hong Kong. The US imposed travel bans and financial sanctions.

READ MORE: Wong, other Hong Kong activists jailed for 2019 anti-Beijing protests

A person wearing a protective face mask waves a Hong Kong independence flag as protesters take part in a candlelight vigil to mark the 31st anniversary of the crackdown of pro-democracy protests at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, after police rejects a mass annual vigil on public health grounds, at Victoria Park, in Hong Kong, China June 4, 2020.
A person wearing a protective face mask waves a Hong Kong independence flag as protesters take part in a candlelight vigil to mark the 31st anniversary of the crackdown of pro-democracy protests at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, after police rejects a mass annual vigil on public health grounds, at Victoria Park, in Hong Kong, China June 4, 2020. (Reuters)

India

Anti-Muslim riots

2019-2020

Violent protests against India's citizenship law that excludes Muslim immigrants swept the country in late 2019 and spilt over into 2020 despite the government’s ban on public assembly and suspension of internet services in many parts of India. 

The backlash against the law marked the strongest show of dissent against the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he was first elected in 2014.

Critics say the legislation violates India's secular constitution. The law is seen as the latest in a string of efforts by the Modi government to marginalise the country's 200 million Muslims.

READ MORE: Anti-Muslim violence in India reaches alarming proportions

A group of Hindi men chanting pro-Hindu slogans, beat Mohammad Zubair, 37, who is Muslim, during protests sparked by a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, on February 24, 2020.
A group of Hindi men chanting pro-Hindu slogans, beat Mohammad Zubair, 37, who is Muslim, during protests sparked by a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, on February 24, 2020. (Reuters)

Farm law protests

September 2020

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting the passage of three laws by PM Narendra Modi's government on agricultural market reform and contract farming. 

Indian farmers say the laws could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in exploitation by the private sector that would push to buy crops at cheaper rates.

READ MORE: India's farmers defiant despite Modi assurance

Farmers burn an effigy of India's PM Narendra Modi, top businessmen Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani to protest against farm laws, in Amritsar on December 5, 2020.
Farmers burn an effigy of India's PM Narendra Modi, top businessmen Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani to protest against farm laws, in Amritsar on December 5, 2020. (AFP)

Thailand

Anti-government protests

July 2020

Massive protests led mostly by students are pushing for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-ocha, pro-democracy changes in the country's constitution and reduction of the monarchy's influence in politics.

READ MORE: Thousands of Thai protesters seek PM's removal

A line of pro-democracy protesters wearing helmets link hands as they walk in front of others carrying large inflatable ducks during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on November 29, 2020.
A line of pro-democracy protesters wearing helmets link hands as they walk in front of others carrying large inflatable ducks during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on November 29, 2020. (AFP)

Armenia

Peace plan protests

November 2020

Protests have been sparked by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's ceasefire deal with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

Protesters are demanding Pashinyan's resignation over the deal that saw Armenia cede three districts to Baku in addition to four others that Azerbaijani soldiers won back during the 44-day fighting that began in late September.

READ MORE: Protesters in Armenia demand Pashinyan's resignation over Karabakh deal

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to demand the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan following a deal with Azerbaijan to end Karabakh conflict, in Yerevan, Armenia December 8, 2020.
Police officers detain a protester during a rally to demand the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan following a deal with Azerbaijan to end Karabakh conflict, in Yerevan, Armenia December 8, 2020. (Reuters)

Kyrgyzstan

Electoral protests

October 2020

Violent clashes erupted after parliamentary elections on October 4, which opponents claimed were rigged by vote-buying schemes. 

The protests forced Sooronbay Jeenbekov to resign as president. 

The post (interim) was handed to the country's PM Sadyr Zhaparov, a former lawmaker whom demonstrators freed from jail. Zhaparov was serving 11-and-a-half years in prison for kidnapping a governor. 

READ MORE: Why are people in Kyrgyzstan protesting?

People protest against the results of a parliamentary vote in Kyrgyzstan's Bishkek on October 5, 2020.
People protest against the results of a parliamentary vote in Kyrgyzstan's Bishkek on October 5, 2020. (AFP)

New Zealand 

Racial equality protests

June 2020

Thousands protested in main cities in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The marches were organised in support of protests in the US following the death of Floyd.

Discussions were also held over racial bias and inequity, colonialism, Maori imprisonment rates, systemic racism, push to remove statues of colonisers, and issues of Maori land protection.

Demonstrators hold placards during a march in central Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, June 1, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in US on May 25, 2020.
Demonstrators hold placards during a march in central Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, June 1, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in US on May 25, 2020. (AP)

Australia

Wildfire protests

January 2020

Thousands of Australians marched through every provincial capital across the country to protest what they say was a lack of government action on the climate crisis and the deadly bushfire crisis. 

READ MORE: Australians protest over climate policy as megablaze hits NSW state

Protesters hold posters during a climate change rally in Sydney, January 10, 2020.
Protesters hold posters during a climate change rally in Sydney, January 10, 2020. (Reuters)

Racial equality protests

June-July 2020

Tens of thousands of Australians protested in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

They also highlighted indigenous deaths in custody and the mistreatment and marginalisation of the country's Aboriginal people.

READ MORE:Thousands march for Black Lives Matter protests across Australia

An Indigenous man takes part in a demonstration calling for an end to police brutality against Black people in the US and First Nations people in Australia, in Sydney, Australia, on July 5, 2020.
An Indigenous man takes part in a demonstration calling for an end to police brutality against Black people in the US and First Nations people in Australia, in Sydney, Australia, on July 5, 2020. (Reuters)

MIDDLE EAST

Palestine

Protests against Israeli annexation plan

June-July 2020

Thousands of Palestinians held marches to protest against Israel's unilateral plan to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley. 

Palestinian officials said that under the plan, Israel will annex 30 to 40 percent of occupied West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem and Jordan Valley.

READ MORE: Thousands of Palestinians rally against Israel's West Bank annexation plan

Palestinians demonstrate against Israeli plans for the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, in Gaza City, on July 1, 2020.
Palestinians demonstrate against Israeli plans for the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, in Gaza City, on July 1, 2020. (John Salangsang/Invision / AP)

Protests against Arab-Israel normalisation of ties

September 2020

Palestinians in besieged Gaza and occupied West Bank burnt pictures of Israeli, US, Bahraini, and United Arab Emirates leaders in a 'day of uprising' against the two Gulf countries' decision to normalise ties with Israel.

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas movement, which governs Gaza, have condemned the US-brokered so-called Abraham Accords as a "stab in the back" to their people.

READ MORE: Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation deal

Palestinians take part in a protest against the UAE and Bahrain's deal with Israel to normalise relations, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 15, 2020.
Palestinians take part in a protest against the UAE and Bahrain's deal with Israel to normalise relations, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 15, 2020. (Mussa Qawasma / Reuters)

Israel

Anti-Netanyahu, coronavirus protests

March 2020 onward

Thousands of Israelis have been holding rallies since March against PM Benjamin Netanyahu who has been charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in a corruption scandal. 

Israelis have also protested an increase of his authority during the coronavirus outbreak.  

Many Israelis believe Netanyahu used a new law to impose coronavirus lockdown to prevent them from widening anti-corruption protests, not the spread of the disease.

Yet thousands of Israelis kept protesting across the country, flouting the law meant to curb anti-government demonstrations during a coronavirus lockdown.

READ MORE: Israelis persist in rallies against Netanyahu despite lockdown

Protesters dressed in pink take part in a demonstration near the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on October 31, 2020.
Protesters dressed in pink take part in a demonstration near the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on October 31, 2020. (AP)

Lebanon

October Revolution

2019-2020

Lebanese protests were first sparked in 2019 when the government introduced taxes on tobacco, petrol, and WhatsApp voice calls. 

The anger quickly expanding into a country-wide condemnation of stagnant economy, unemployment, and endemic corruption. 

In August 2020, protests were revived by the deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut.

READ MORE: Fury rages in Lebanon as violent protests follow disastrous explosion

Anti-government demonstrators gesture during a protest as Lebanese mark one year since the start of nation-wide protests in Beirut, Lebanon on October 17, 2020.
Anti-government demonstrators gesture during a protest as Lebanese mark one year since the start of nation-wide protests in Beirut, Lebanon on October 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Iraq

Civil unrest 

October 2019 onward

Iraqis have continued to protests in anti-government demonstrations since October last year. 

Last year, tens of thousands of Iraqis, mostly young people, marched in many cities to decry government graft, unemployment, and poor services.

The popular movement in Iraq succeeded in overthrowing the previous government headed by Adil Abdul Mahdi and has been putting pressure on the current Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi to fulfil his pledges on improving services and fighting corruption. Despite crackdowns by the militias and government, protesters say their movement is still alive.

READ MORE: Why do protests in Iraq refuse to go away?

Anti-government protesters clash with supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr in Nasiriyah, Iraq November 27, 2020.
Anti-government protesters clash with supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr in Nasiriyah, Iraq November 27, 2020. (Reuters)

AFRICA

Sudan

'Million-man march'

Sudanese have protested throughout the year for the transition from military control to civilian government. The demonstrations are also driven by dire living conditions faced by the Sudanese. 

The country is currently ruled by a joint civilian-military government, following the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Omar al Bashir last year.

READ MORE: Protests resume in Sudan amid calls for more reforms

Civilians wave national flags at a barricade as members of Sudanese pro-democracy group demonstrate on the anniversary of a major anti-military protest in Khartoum, Sudan June 30, 2020.
Civilians wave national flags at a barricade as members of Sudanese pro-democracy group demonstrate on the anniversary of a major anti-military protest in Khartoum, Sudan June 30, 2020. (Reuters)

Nigeria

#EndSars protests

October 2020

Demonstrations began on October 8, targeting a hated police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), after a video circulated online showed police from the Sars unit brutally beating up a man. 

Tensions grew when at least 10 peaceful protesters were killed in Lagos city. Nigerians abroad also took part, organising their own protests in London, New York, and Paris. The expats also helped the cause get support from Rihanna, Kanye West, and other celebrities. 

President Muhammadu Buhari's government agreed to disband the Sars unit but the protests continued with participants demanding sweeping reforms of police and action against corruption.

READ MORE: Nigeria protesters vow to fight on after crackdown

A demonstrator paints 'End Sars', referring to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit, on a street during a protest demanding police reform in Lagos, Nigeria October 20, 2020.
A demonstrator paints 'End Sars', referring to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit, on a street during a protest demanding police reform in Lagos, Nigeria October 20, 2020. (Seun Sanni/ FILE PHOTO / Reuters)

EUROPE

France

Police security bill protests

France has seen weekly nationwide protests over a controversial police bill. The demonstrations picked up pace after footage emerged of three white policemen beating a Black music producer, whom they allegedly also abused racially. 

The bill criminalises the publication of images of on-duty police officers. Rights groups and journalists say this would make it difficult to document police brutality.

READ MORE: 'Democracy bludgeoned': French protesters rally against police violence

People attend a demonstration against the Global Security Bill that rights groups say would make it a crime to circulate an image of a police officer, in Paris, on November 28, 2020.
People attend a demonstration against the Global Security Bill that rights groups say would make it a crime to circulate an image of a police officer, in Paris, on November 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Germany

Coronavirus lockdown protests

Germany's Querdenker movement, or "lateral thinking", have been protesting against coronavirus lockdowns and other restrictive measures since the summer. 

Their protests have also provoked counter-demonstrations.

Organisers have gathered thousands of people in cities all across Germany, at times clashing with police while authorities have placed the Querdenker members under surveillance.

READ MORE: German police break up protests by coronavirus sceptics 

Police officers stand next to counter-protesters at the site where a protest against government's Covid-19 restrictions is supposed to take place, in Bremen, Germany, December 5, 2020.
Police officers stand next to counter-protesters at the site where a protest against government's Covid-19 restrictions is supposed to take place, in Bremen, Germany, December 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Belarus

'Slipper uprising'

August 2020

Belarus has been rocked by massive strikes and weekly street protests since authorities announced President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994, won re-election on August 9 with 80 percent of votes.

Opponents accuse Lukashenko of rigging the presidential election to extend his 26-year rule – a charge he denies. 

The protest movement has kept up a series of large-scale demonstrations for the past several months, with tens of thousands of protesters often taking to the streets in anti-government protests. 

Hundreds have been arrested and then released during protests. There's no clarity on how many people are still in jail. 

Opposition leaders have been jailed and driven out of the country.

Among those to have fled is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate, who left for Lithuania, and continues guiding opposition protests from there. 

READ MORE: Tens of thousands march against Lukashenko in Belarus, dozens detained

People attend an opposition rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus October 18, 2020.
People attend an opposition rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus October 18, 2020. (stringer / Reuters)

Poland

Abortion rights protests 

October-December 

Tens of thousands of people have participated in recent protests against a near-total ban on abortions in Poland. 

The protests were triggered by an October 22 ruling by Poland's constitutional court that abortion in cases of severe fetal deformities was unconstitutional. 

The ruling further restricts what was already one of Europe's more restrictive abortion laws.

READ MORE: Protesters rally against abortion ban in Poland on women's vote anniversary

People take part in a protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland, October 28, 2020.
People take part in a protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland, October 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Russia

Khabarovsk protests

July 2020 onward

In Khabarovsk, Russia's far east, locals have been protesting for months to voice opposition to the arrest of the regional governor Sergei Furgal on murder charges.  

Protest attendance has dwindled since thousands rallied over the summer against Furgal's arrest in July on decades-old murder-related charges. 

Furgal has denied the accusations, which his supporters say were engineered by his opponents with help from the Kremlin.

Furgal became Khabarovsk's governor in 2018 when he defeated a candidate from President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

The Financial Times reported that "voters who flocked to Mr Furgal say they did so not for his or his party’s distinct policies, but as a protest vote against the United Russia incumbent".

Putin had personally backed the incumbent, Vyacheslav Shport, so Furgal's refusal to quit the race was seen as unforgivable, according to The Moscow Times.

READ MORE: Massive anti-Kremlin protests grip Russia's Far East

People take part in a rally in support of arrested regional governor Sergei Furgal who is accused of organising the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago, in Khabarovsk, Russia on July 18, 2020.
People take part in a rally in support of arrested regional governor Sergei Furgal who is accused of organising the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago, in Khabarovsk, Russia on July 18, 2020. (Evgenii Pereverzev / Reuters Archive)

Greece     

Law against demonstrations

July 2020

Thousands protested Kyriakos Mitsotakis government's enactment of a stringent law on demonstrations across Greece. 

The legislation limits demonstrations or bans them if protests are deemed to threaten public safety.

The new rules aim to replace a 1971 junta decree restricting rallies. Unionists and opposition parties accuse the government of acting preemptively to quash any opposition to possible fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a demonstration against government plans to regulate street protests, in Athen Greece, on July 9, 2020.
Demonstrators clash with riot police during a demonstration against government plans to regulate street protests, in Athen Greece, on July 9, 2020. (Reuters)

AMERICAS

United States

Police brutality protests

May 2020

US was rocked by weeks of protests and rallies after Floyd's death by police was captured by an onlooker's video. 

As a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, an unarmed and handcuffed Floyd, 46, lay face down on a Minneapolis street, gasping for air and groaning for help, before falling silent.

Local protests began in Minnesota before quickly spreading nationwide and to over 60 countries in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

READ MORE: Anti-racism protesters flood US streets in huge, peaceful push for change

Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, in Washington, US, on June 13, 2020.
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, in Washington, US, on June 13, 2020. (Reuters)

Chile

'Chilean spring'

2019-2020

The protests, dubbed the 'Chilean spring', began in 2019 in response to a rise in the Santiago Metro's subway fare and split over into 2020 as well. The 2019 riots left 30 dead and thousands injured.

The protests widened over severe inequality, low salaries and pensions, increase in the cost of living, privatisation and constitutional amendments.  

A demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of last year's mass protests devolved into riots and looting.

READ MORE: Chileans channel street rage into art at protest museum

People gather to protest against Chile's government during a referendum on a new Chilean constitution in Santiago, Chile on October 26, 2020.
People gather to protest against Chile's government during a referendum on a new Chilean constitution in Santiago, Chile on October 26, 2020. (Reuters)

Peru

Impeachment protests

November 2020

Peru plunged into turmoil in early November when Congress voted to oust President Martin Vizcarra. 

Millions of Peruvians filled the streets, decrying the move as a parliamentary coup and some clashed with the police. 

Francisco Sagasti, a lawmaker and an engineer by training, was chosen by Congress in mid-November as the new president of Peru, its third in just over a week of protests.

The reaction by police to the protests in the capital has ignited a debate about police brutality.

At least 20 demonstrators were shot with lead pellets or glass marbles during the Lima protests, according to medical records, interviews and information compiled by the local Human Rights Coordinator and verified by Human Rights Watch.

At least half a dozen of those injured in protests were hospitalised for over three weeks. A third person died in protests in northern Peru earlier in December.

READ MORE: Peru's Merino quits as interim president

Demonstrators clash with police during protests following the impeachment of President Martin Vizcarra, in Lima, Peru November 12, 2020.
Demonstrators clash with police during protests following the impeachment of President Martin Vizcarra, in Lima, Peru November 12, 2020. (Reuters)

READ MORE: 2019 - a year of lengthy protests

Source: TRTWorld and agencies