Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Biggest Protests in The World Ever until 2017. Uprisings and protests have been some of the strongest forces of change in the history of the world. They arise from differences in opinion, and sometimes from the mistreatment of one group by another. Tensions build and eventually when they become too much, the people rise up for change. One of the most common reasons for protests is that one group feels that another group is taking something from them. They have also been organized in protest of corruption and greed from those in charge. Some of the protests have been peaceful, but many of them have ended in violence. Nonetheless, they were a part of what makes the world what it is today. The protests on this list were chosen both due to the number of people involved, and for the degree of change that they caused. Many of them occurred in a short amount of time, but their impacts are still felt today. The following list represents the top 10 protests of all time until 2017.
List of Top 10 Biggest Protests in The World Ever until 2017
10. The Protestant Reformation
The most noticeable feature of this protest is that it began quietly and peacefully. In 1517, Martin Luther protested against the abuses of Catholicism by posting a single list on the door of a German church. One of the main practices that was attacked was the selling of “indulgences” to absolve someone of sin. This protest would not stay peaceful for long and soon the world would be embroiled in a bloody battle that would tear apart the foundation of some of the greatest empires of the time. It would result in a new balance of power between the church and state.
9. Storming of the Bastille
This single event that occurred on July 14, 1789 is symbolic of the entire 10 year long rebellion against the crown of France. The French Revolution was the result of growing tensions between the upper class in the lower class. People were starving in the streets and being thrown in jail for insignificant breaches of the law. The Bastille, or prison was a symbol of the power of the ruling class. On Bastille day, these tensions would boil over and the people would rise up together and overtake the prison. This rebellion resulted in the beheading of the governor and other French officials. The protest served to unify the French people and to strengthen their identity.
8. The Salt March
The Salt March was an act of civil disobedience occurred in April 1930 in India. It was led by Mohandas Gandhi to protest the British rulers of India and their heavy taxes on salt. During the March, protesters followed Gandhi from his retreat to the Arabian Sea Coast, covering a distance of 240 miles. As a result of the March, 60,000 people were arrested including Gandhi. The March had its desired effect and India was finally granted its independence from British rule in 1947. This March gained the sympathy of the world for India and turned them against the British.
7. The Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party must be mentioned because it was another protest against British imperial taxation of goods coming to America. The tea party occurred on December 16, 1773 over the short course of only three hours. There were only about 100 protesters, but together they were able to board three British ships and dump nearly 45 tons of tea from England into the ocean. The group called themselves the Sons of Liberty. This may have been a small protest in numbers, but when it was one of the main events leading up to the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.
6. National Day of Protest
South Africa’s ANC party led by Nelson Mandela organized a work stoppage in 1950. It was a response to a new bill that had been introduced by the South African government that allowed the investigation of any political party or organization. It was a peaceful protest that occurred on June 26, 1950. On that day thousands of South Africans stayed at home and refused to work. This was not the last time that they would do this, and they would use this tactic several times in the future. This day was named National Freedom Day and was celebrated as a holiday in South Africa until 1994. This is one of the Top 10 Biggest Protests in The World Ever until 2017.
5. March on Washington
The March on Washington led by Martin Luther King was perhaps one of the most significant protests leading up to the Civil Rights Movement. In August 1963, Martin Luther delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech to more than 200,000 demonstrators who were peacefully gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. This speech and protest were said to be a major factor in pressuring Pres. Kennedy to draft the civil rights legislation that would become law following year.
4. Tiananmen Square
The Tiananmen Square protest is known as the June 4 incident, but it actually began on April 15 of 1989 and ended June 4, 1989. The Tiananmen Square incident was part of a national protest that was taking place in 400 cities across China. The reason for the protest was corruption inherent in the Communist Party. The protest involved a hunger strike and occupation of the public square. The protesters were broken by military force with hundreds of thousands wounded or killed of the 1 million protesters who took part. Both soldiers and rioters were killed in the incident. The incident resulted in economic sanctions and embargoes against the People’s Republic of China. It is not known if they had a significant effect on the Chinese government. The success of the protest has been questioned, but the protestors did draw the attention of the world to their plight.
3. The Berlin Wall
The Berlin wall was a barrier that divided Berlin, Germany into East and West. It was constructed in 1961 by East Germany, the German Democratic Republic. Political figures on both sides of the wall viewed it differently. The German Democratic Republic saw it as a defense against the “fascism” of NATO countries and Western Germany. The West Germans called it the Wall of Shame. In 1989, changes within the political landscape of the Eastern Bloc and the erosion of power in Soviet controlled countries led to civil unrest. On November 9, 1989 freedom of movement was opened between East and West Berlin. The demolition of the wall began in 1990 and was not completed until 1992.
2. Protests against the Iraq Invasion
In 2003, 36 million people took the streets around the world to protect the world from an unjustified and illegal war. There were over 3000 individual antiwar protests around the world between January 3 and April 12, 2003. This was one of the largest and most prolific protests ever seen in history. They were coordinated so that they would occur at the same time and every place around the world. The protests were against the intended war and invasion of Iran by the United States. Until the protest, the United States was considered the unrivaled superpower, but these protests demonstrated that the worldwide public could challenge the power of the United States. The protests were organized by organizations that were against the war. In some cases, such as certain Arab countries, the state were the organizers of the protest. Europe had the largest population of protesters in the world. The record was set in Rome for the largest ever antiwar rally, with 3 million people in attendance at once. Polls found that Americans were against the war too. The war began in 2003 despite the protests and went on until 2011. Protests continued throughout these years until the war ended. The US was accused of starting the war to protect its own economic interests in the oil.
1. The Occupy Movement
This movement began in 2011 and continues to this day. These are for the most part peaceful protests, but have involved skirmishes with police at some rallies. The purpose of the movement is to establish change and eliminate the disparities that exist between the wealthy and the poor. The premise behind the movement is that world wealth is controlled by one percent of the richest people on earth. Protesters feel that as the rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer. The protesters represent the proletariat of the world. The first occupy demonstration was held September 11, 2011 on Wall Street in New York City. Exact numbers of protesters in the occupy movement are not known, but it is having been participated in by a number of celebrities. Thus far, the movement has successfully begun national conversation on the issue. The occupy movement has spread from the United States to countries around the world who are against social inequality, financial greed, and corruption. Communications such as the Internet are used to organize protests.
These are the Top 10 Biggest Protests in The World Ever until 2017. There are certainly many other protests that could be included in this list. Protests have certainly been a part of global history throughout the ages. Protesters band together for a common cause and in a common spirit to create a change that they see is needed.