Canadian constitution group work
- Bill 101- French language rights in Quebec vs. English language rights
Question: Should Bill 101 be allowed in Quebec? William, Abi, Wiqar
2. Religious rights for Catholic School system:
Question: Should Catholics be funded because of a constitutional promise in 1867 and to what extent (for which grades? % of taxes?) Nirupan, Johanna, Cally, Anita
3. Lord’s Day Act- The right for people to go shopping on a SundayQuestion: Does this violate the rights of the traditional religious base of society? Should it be allowed? Kylon, Cynthia, Shumaila, Michael
4. Gender participation in male sports leagueQuestion: Should a girl have the rights to be included in an all boys hockey league?
Diana, Michelle, Samira, Kary
5. Aboriginal special status for people and land.Question: Should Aboriginal people be given a special status different from other Canadians? Balraj, Jordan, Kamil
Constitutional Case studies test on Tuesday, November 12
Philippines, South Africa, India, U.S., Russia, Germany and Canada-
Constitutional Case studies test on Tuesday, November 12
Philippines, South Africa, India, U.S., Russia, Germany and Canada-
General: constitution, civil war, rights, responsibilities, revolution, political systems, colonization, dictatorship, exploitation, assassination, political prisoner, activist, domination, massacre, independence
- South Africa: apartheid, Gold and Diamond rush of 1867, Afrikaaners, British, Bantu tribes, black townships and homelands, white areas, Group Areas Act, Sharpeville massacre, Soweto massacre, violent uprisings of 1986, armed conflict, African National Congress (ANC), economic sanctions, race laws, Mixed Marriages Act, Bantu Education Act,
People: Nelson Mandela, Steven Biko, PW Botha, FW DeKlerk
2. India: British colonization period, civil disobedience, Salt March, negotiations, Amristr massacre, caste system, Indian National Congress, Indian Muslim Congress, Hindu-Muslim relations, religious tension, untouchables, widows, minority groups and rights,Mahatama Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi,
3. Philippines : Spanish colonization, Spanish-American War, American colonization, World War Two, Japanese colonization, independence, martial law, dictatorship, detention of civilians, curfew, Anti-communist act, assassination of Benigno Aquino, People Power RevolutionJose Rizal, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Benigno Aquino, Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos,
4. United States: 13 colonies, taxation, Boston massacre, Boston tea party, war of independence, monarchy, American revolution, slavery, racism, constitutional amendments, 1st and second amendmentsGeorge Washington, Thomas Jefferson, King George, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr.,
5. Canada.: residential schools, BNA act, residual powers, catholic schools vs public schools, free land, head tax, world war one internment camps, Asian exclusion act, Japanese canadian internment camps, native voting rights, Bill of Rights, multiculturalism, bilingualism, white paper, government apologies, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Omar Khadr, Mahar Arar, terrorism act, collective bargaining rights for teachers.
People: Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King, John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau, Mahar Arar, Omar Khadr, Stephen Harper
Development of Human Rights/Constitution Assignment: Canada
- Context of the society- For a specific time period before the society changed, describe in 1 page what the human rights conditions were like for the people living there. Mention details such as the political, economic and social realities of the society. This can include who and how the country was colonized or ruled by the dictators, whether groups of people were treated fairly, violations of human rights, the fairness of the justice system and challenges for the people.
From the time of the first European settlers in the 16th century until the beginning of Canada as a nation in 1867, the main group which were victimized and d died in the millions as well as losing the land they once lived on were the Native Peoples of Canada . While the French settled Port Royal and Quebec City in the early 1600’s, the British settled parts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick to their advantage. The Arctic North was largely left unsettled by Europeans except for small posts where the fur trade flourished as part of Rupert’s Land. In the process of trading with the Native tribes, many either were killed directly from battles with the British or they died in large numbers due to the spread of European diseases which they had no immunity from. Unfair treaties were often imposed on the native peoples with the use of force so that eventually the Native peoples lost 90% of the lands they once controlled and lived off of.
With the superior fire power of the Europeans and the building of larger settlements during the 1700’s, the Native Peoples were denied their rights to have what was always their own. They lost their land and were pushed further to the north and west. With the Battle of Quebec in 1759, the British took over from the French for the rest of the history of what would one day become Canada. This meant that the French speakers of the Quebec area lost the mother country of France where they or their descendents came from. New France suddenly came under the control of the British monarchy as of 1763. They were allowed to continue to speak French and practise their culture including common law, but lost opportunities to be in government until much later once Canada became a nation. Their rights however were protected under the British system.
From 1763 to 1867, the people of Canada stayed devoted to the monarchy of England as a colony. During the War of 1812 against the U.S., the land was still under the control of the British with British soldiers fighting against Americans to preserve British North America. There were two successive rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in the 1830’s that showed some of those who were born in North America were starting to get impatient about being a British colony still under the control of the British King much like those from the 13 Colonies had felt in the 1770’s. England started to accept that those born in British North America were no longer the same as British subjects found in England itself and allowed for the colonists to discuss independence which would by 1867 be achieved as the country of Canada.
Under the guidance of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada was able to peacefully become an independent nation that was still loyal to England. Most immigrants were still from England and it was heavily in favour of supporting England in trade and war. The flag of Canada was still flown as the British flag and we were still under Queen Victoria, honouring her as our supreme head of state. Though we would make our own domestic laws with our own Parliament in Ottawa, Canada continued to base our decisions on the British model including our constitution called the British North America Act of 1867. We promised to England that we would continue to fight as her colony in case of any war which occurred in the Boer War of 1899 and more significantly World War One from 1914-1918. Canada did not have control of our own foreign affairs. The BNA Act is essentially our first constitution but could only be changed with the permission of the British government. This Act included the following conditions:
- The power of the Governor General in Council can disallow any provincial law within a year of getting a copy of the legislation.
- A division of powers between the federal parliament and the provinces.
- Parliament could assume any powers that were not specifically mentioned, and had the power to act for "peace, order and good government."
This really meant that provinces had local control over certain areas of government in areas such as education, health care, roads, electricity and other infrastructure. At the same time the central government in Ottawa was given most of the power to make sure the whole country is co-ordinated for other areas such as industrial development, acts of war, immigration, defence and agriculture. This is one reason that in Ontario, at the time in 1867 when the population was roughly equal of Catholics and Protestants, it was guaranteed that Catholic schools were given funding.
Catalyst- Describe the event or events that caused this society to organize, fight, protest, change or revolt against the government. Describe the individuals and groups involved in the dispute with the pre-existing government. What steps did they take to change the previous government or political system? Was violence used to achieve their goals? Give details about what happened that changed this country for the rest of its time. 1 page
There was no wide scale protest or violence in Canada over the years after the BNA Act was passed. The new Canadians who lived in the decades following Confederation continued to respect the political system and our constitution. However there is a whole history of discrimination against different cultural/national/racial groups within Canada that explains why the BNA Act was not sufficient to respect all Canadian’s rights and that eventually we needed to have a new constitution now known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Part of the problem was racism in our society, discrimination at the hands of our government and no protection for the average citizen within our constitution. The following historical events outline the number of discriminatory laws and practises that occurred from the 19th century to the present:
-free land was easily given to new immigrants in the 1890’s, if they were Europeans
-Chinese workers on the railroad were paid much less than white workers
-Once the railroad was built, Chinese immigrants had to pay a high amount for a head tax, followed by the Asian Exclusion Act which banned Asian immigration from 1923 to 1947
-internment camps during World War One against German Canadians, Italian Canadians, and Ukrainian Canadians including children
-rejection of Indian immigrants in Vancouver who came by ship in 1914 and were sent back to India only to be killed by the government there
-segregation of African Canadians in Halifax from white Canadians in the early 1900’s to 1950’s
-residential schools were used which separated Native children from their families to be sent to schools far away, denying their culture and language and were abusive to the children
-Japanese Canadian internment camps during World War Two which stripped Japanese Canadians of all their rights
-Not allowing native people and Asians to vote in elections until 1953
The above number of incidents where the Canadian government either directly or indirectly enabled discrimination to take place demonstrate the need for a much better constitution to be applied to all legally. These all together can provide the catalyst to encouraging the first Bill of Rights in 1960 under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker followed by the ideas of Pierre Trudeau: bilingualism and multiculturalism. There was never or rarely ever, violence on the part of oppressed Canadians but rather many years of patient and quiet protest. Instead the changes that came were from the Prime Ministers who happened to care about the rights of citizens so in the 1970’s, Trudeau and his advisors began to argue for the need of our own constitution that is updated from 1867 and that no longer would require the permission of England. The result of this was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- - Explain how the constitution was made including the role of specific individuals and/or groups who helped to develop it, the challenges in making it and what were some of the disagreements in its creation. Describe four areas (clauses, amendments, statements) found in the constitution that describe the protection of people’s rights and explain how these four areas help to improve the lives of the people compared to the time before the constitution was made. 1 page
The making of our constitution in 1982 was a collection of different sets of laws or statutes starting and mainly made from the BNA Act of 1867. It was the result of a number of conferences held by different federal governments but nothing came of discussions in 1978 and 1979 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wanted to bring the constitution to Canada from England. He wanted to find the way for us to have our own methods for changing our constitution without needing to go through the British Parliament in the future but since the provincial premiers couldn’t agree on how the constitution would be changed, Trudeau went ahead anway by making a resolution in Parliament to bring the constitution to Canada. This included having an amending formula (a way for provinces to agree on any future changes to the constitution). Three provinces challenged Trudeau’s proposal in the Supreme Court of Canada but with further negotiation only Quebec refused to be a part of it so it was agreed to request British Parliament to pass the law to allow us to have our constitution on our own terms and in a formal ceremony the Queen of England came to sign the final document that became known as the Canadian Constitution of 1982, including a part known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The formerly named BNA Act became known as the Constitution Act 1867 which clarified which areas of responsibility were under provincial and federal levels of government. For example, federal parliament is responsible for immigration, marriage, defence, criminal law, trade, defence, currency, Aboriginal peoples- this set of responsibilities fell under Section 91 of the constitution. Meanwhile, Section 92 included provincial powers for hospitals, marriage licenses, property and civil rights and
Section 93, also provincial, was to do with the administration of education including the rights given at the time of confederation which in Ontario included Catholic and Public school boards since at the time they were equal in population and the population was fairly religious so Catholic schools were promised funding in 1867. Any new laws connected with technology such as internet and air fare comes under federal law.
The greatest part of the new constitution was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms especially in light of the many incidents in our history that discriminated against many people. This Charter gives citizens the chance to be protected from further discrimination and to have all rights protected as much as possible. It doesn’t solve all issues since sometimes one law of human rights collides with another law of human rights such as the right to safety vs. the right to religious freedom. Each case has to be considered individually. Four major areas that are included in the Charter are:
- Democratic Rights
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS OF CITIZENS.
4. (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.
This is no different than before as all governments since Confederation in 1867 have never been in power for more than 5 years. It demonstrates that our political system has always been respected by those in power as no leader has ever tried to go beyond 5 years in one term. The fact that leaders are able to be re-elected as many times as the people are willing to elect them has meant there is no fear for them to try and extend the allowable five years. It gives all Canadians the assurance that our system is fair and no leader will likely become a dictator.
2. Mobility Rights
MOBILITY RIGHTS OF CITIZENS / Right to move and gain livelihood / Limitation / Affirmative action programs.
6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
This is an important part of our constitution as Canadians need to know that no matter where they go or when they want to come back to Canada, they don’t have to wonder if their citizenship is still valid or not. This gives Canadians the confidence to be free in the world and never worry about one’s homeland rejecting you. As well Canadians get to choose to live anywhere in Canada with no restrictions.
3. Legal Rights
SEARCH OR SEIZURE.
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
All people should be protected in their own homes knowing that the police can not simply arrive at one’s house without a proper warrant. A warrant means that the police had to think hard about whether or not to go into someone’s home or risk losing whatever evidence they were looking for. More accurate arrests will save the taxpayer a lot of money and innocent people will hopefully not be arrested wrongly.
4. Equality Rights
EQUALITY BEFORE AND UNDER LAW AND EQUAL PROTECTION AND BENEFIT OF LAW / Affirmative action programs.
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Every Canadian needs to feel safe and secure before the law and one way to do this is to declare that everyone will be treated equally in the justice system and that discrimination against a group of people is wrong as evidence from our past.
The United States is perhaps the best known democracy in the world and had the first written constitution as an independent country. However with the many events that occurred here from the time of the first British settlers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 until the present day, it has a mix of positive and negative features that either have promoted human rights and just laws or violated them. Here is a simple version of different eras in its history to suggest how human rights and laws have been regarded.
I. British Colonialism and slavery. 1607-1783
The first settlers arrived to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 with the hopes of making a settlement known as a colony. This was set up by the friends of the King who wanted new land for farming and producing of goods. They also were leaving Europe for adventure and religious freedom. Upon arrival, there were Native People already living in the area so these first Europeans traded with them for survival and they sometimes helped the Europeans. As more ships arrived over the years throughout the east coast of North America and settlers came in larger numbers, they began to take over the Native Peoples’ lands and killed a large number of them. They continued to push them back further from the coastline until eventually in the 1700’s Native lands were in the interior part of the colonies.
The lands that were settled were called the 13 colonies of Great Britain since they were run by the British monarchy. The 13 colonies were separated pieces of land including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire etc. which eventually became the first part of the United States. There was no independence from the king and each new generation whether new arrivals or born in the colonies had to follow the rules made by the King or Queen. In order to also support agricultural growth, the land owners wanted labourers to do the hard work in the fields so there was three way trade between England, west Africa and the 13 Colonies. The cargo brought from Africa to America was slaves who were west Africans but because of their skin colour they were simply taken, captured and put in chains. Once they arrived in America, for those who didn’t die on the way, they were bought by the landowners and forced to do work for the rest of their lives. They never received any money for what they did and if they tried to escape the owners were allowed to beat or kill them without penalty. This was an extreme violation of human rights which continued before and after the American Revolution in the 1770’s which was a reaction of the white Americans who in turn didn’t want to be oppressed by the monarchy of England themselves. It was a sad irony that they felt their rights were not given by the monarchy and were willing to fight for them but in planning this new country they didn’t consider the rights of African Americans.
The Beginning of the American Revolution: 1770’s
In the 1760’s the colonists from the 13 colonies were told by the British King they could not migrate and settle westwards since they had an agreement with the Native groups for them to have the land east of the Mississippi River. Many people were upset by this. The British monarchy also told the settlers that they must keep paying more and more taxes. Some taxes were added to products that came into the Colonies. Many of them refused to pay the extra taxes and to buy more British goods which only angered the King more. In 1768 the King sent more soldiers to America to enforce the payment of the taxes. With more tension rising this lead to the Boston Massacre of 1770 when five people were killed by the British soldiers making the colonists more angry. Eventually with more arguments between colonists and the British army, some organizers decided to have a War of Independence to make the 13 Colonies into an independent country, starting in 1775. It involved
The Revolution was the only way for the colonists to fight against the British army so they organized many men to fight and the American Revolution was born. For the next several months, during this war, colonists were able to defeat the British soldiers so that on July 4, 1776 they declared a new country called the United States of America. The 13 colonies became the first 13 states and came up with their own laws which still included slavery. One of the main organizers and soldiers was General George Washington who became the first President of the United States.
The Constitution: 1770’s
Once the United States was established, they still had to write up a new constitution which took another 7 years to do. This was hard to do since the states didn’t like each other and they had to agree on the same ideas in their constitution. It involved many different articles and clauses for the new government to follow in order to be well organized and a safe, democratic country. Each state could decide if they wanted to have slavery or not which most of them did. Here are a few of the amendments attached to the original constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Article [I]
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Article [II]
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.Article [IV]
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Article [VI]
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The above phrases from the constitution show that people were given rights and protections when arrested, freedom of speech, freedom of beliefs, and not to be searched unlawfully. These are great laws but they never protected the rights of African Americans since slavery was already and still in practise when this constitution was made. It shows how a constitution can look great but may not be in full practise unless all the people living in the same land are given exactly the same rights.
Post Constitution: Catalyst events: 1800’s-1960’s
Although the first leaders of the U.S. drew up a constitution, it still didn’t recognize the rights of African Americans. They were not included in the constitution showing that the high values and ideals written down didn’t apply to everyone in the country equally. For the next several decades, African Americans continued to be used, abused, tortured and killed by white Americans including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with slavery. Even though the slave trade was outlawed as of 1833, the U.S. still continued to use slaves to build up their economy with free labour.
In 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president slavery was to be outlawed. Abraham Lincoln was the first president who was against slavery even though he was also racist in other ways but believed in the equality of blacks and whites. This was very risky for him since most white Americans were against black Americans having equal rights. Since the southern States were the ones that needed slaves the most for their farms, they were most against it. They threatened that they would go to war against Lincoln if he was elected which he was and so they started the American Civil War from 1860-1865. It was the North (anti-slavery) against the South (pro-slavery). This war cost hundreds of thousands of lives and divided the nation for a long time. At the conclusion of the Civil war, slavery ended and African Americans were now free to live and work where they could get work. Of course many white Americans were not willing to accept them but gradually they got work in some jobs and improve their lives somewhat. As a result of this the 14th amendment was passed for the constitution ending slavery. However for the next 100 years African Americans still didn’t receive the respect or equality that they should have been given in a free society since people continued to commit racist and violent acts against African Americans. One group that was very active and the government did little to stop was the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) which attacked African Americans by torturing and killing them.
Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s
(100 years after Lincoln) After a number of incidents in the southern U.S. where African Americans were not treated equally in schools, restaurants, public places, universities and they were arrested by the police for simply defending their rights, a new set of events began which changed America once again. With the help of African American activists including Martin Luther King Jr. who organized protests in the US to fight racism, America started to question its freedoms. Millions of African Americans still were not free to do as they want such as go to schools which were of higher quality or to get jobs where they wanted. Rosa Parks helped to spark a whole wave of protests when she refused to go to the back of a bus because she is African American. She was arrested so thousands of other African Americans also refused to use the bus service in Alabama forcing eventually the bus company to give in and allow African Americans to sit near the front of the bus. This helped to get laws changed. It was the words of Martin Luther King Junior who preached that all white and black kids should be able to have a future together and have equality. He promoted his ideas throughout America and became the main spokesman for African American rights. He was eventually assassinated in 1968 by a white racist showing that even 200 years after the constitution had been made, there were still oppressive ideas expressed and that America still has a way to go before fully respecting everyone’s human rights though the government has progressed to protect African Americans much better today than the 1960’s and before.
Colonization is a dominant theme for this country since the British first arrived in the mid 18th century after the Portuguese also set up a colony near Goa on the west coast. Colonization is a concept that is often discussed in the history of countries which may be defined as: a large, powerful country (the mother country) taking over control of the land and peoples of a smaller or less powerful government for its own benefit. It will use the colony to provide raw materials for its trade and industries in the home or mother country at a cheap labour cost. The mother country gets into the colony and takes control of the people because they have superior weapons which occurred mostly during the Age of Discovery when European countries sailed around the world and had powerful guns compared to the native peoples of different countries. The European powers starting in the 18th century set up new governments in the colonies which were controlled by the governments in the mother country for the best economic and political advantage. The nature of colonialism means that many places run by Europeans look down on the native populations because they have less powerful weapons which is based on racism.
In terms of India, the people experienced colonialism in different ways with some infrastructural benefits such as new railways, electrical lines, buildings, hospitals, hotels and other examples. However mostly the people suffered due to the lack of human rights, massacres, exploitation of their bodies as labourers or prostitutes, the European lack of understanding of the Hindu and Muslim religious beliefs, the huge disadvantage in trade and profit given to Indians and the small number of Indians who are well educated. England always made sure they were in charge of the country using the gun as their source of control. All rules were decided by British parliament, much beyond the local desires or control of the people who lived on the land itself. The laws were made for the full advantage of the British.
In the early 1900’s with the arrival of Mahatama Gandhi from South Africa where he helped to fight for the rights of Indians under apartheid, India was finally given a slow chance to change its political and economic situation. It was due to the many events from the early 1920’s until the death of Gandhi in 1948 when he was assassinated, that India was finally able to change. Gandhi strongly believed in changing things with non violence so Indians had a moral right to eventually rule over their land and England could no longer argue against it even though they tried hard and they were violent toward Gandhi’s followers. The approach he used is known as non violent civil disobedience whereby they fought with their words and actions by not co-operating with the British colonial government, encouraging Indians to boycott British made goods, to stop working in the factories or mines, to allow themselves to be arrested quietly and refusing to be considered as second class citizens.
One of the events he lead was called the Salt March. Since all salt in India was only allowed to be made by the British so the profits went directly to England, Gandhi decided to walk across India and pick up followers along the way as he went through villages until he reached the sea and got the salt from the ocean. He then encouraged Indians to illegally make their own salt so the British can not get the profit from it. This one act got the attention of the British authorities since they arrested and beat thousands of people with no violence in return, making the British to realize the people will continue to “fight”against them for greater rights.
They finally asked for Gandhi to attend a conference to discuss independence since Gandhi was able to use the huge numbers of people to pressure the British to see that eventually they won’t be able to control them all. It was a major event for India to prove itself to the British. Finally in 1947 England granted India independence but split the eastern and western part into the countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh and ordered that all Muslims would move to those parts while Hindus would stay in the middle. This lead to many riots between the religions. Gandhi, a Hindu, was assassinated a year later by a Hindu nationalist since he felt he sold out his people by giving into the British and the division of the country but actually Gandhi was against it also. Three countries were born. Gandhi also addressed some of the inequalities found within Hinduism by banning widow burning and the caste system in the new constitution.
Constitution and Change
Since India became independent, it has reshaped itself in different ways. Politically its history is still violent with the many diverse opinions of how the govt should run as it is a very ethnically diverse country. The granddaughter of Gandhi, Indira became Prime Minister but was assassinated by a Sikh extremist in 1984, followed by her own son as Prime Minister in the late 1980’s. Today it has become popular for many IT companies which has increased the number of middle class in the country. However there is still a certain amount of poverty that needs to be solved.
Development of Human Rights/Constitution Assignment: South Africa
Context of the society- For a specific time period before the society changed, describe in 1 page what the human rights conditions were like for the people living there. Mention details such as the political, economic and social realities of the society. This can include who and how the country was colonized or ruled by the dictators, whether groups of people were treated fairly, violations of human rights, the fairness of the justice system and challenges for the people.
South Africa had an early start as a land with many different tribes, nationalities and languages in the southern part of Africa. With its dark, fertile soil, numerous minerals and stunning scenery, it attracted European settlers as of 1652 to join the many tribes such as the Swazi, Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Venda. It was this attraction that brought the future troubles for the African peoples as they attempted to quietly settle the land without any interference from other peoples. By the mid 1800’s both British and the Dutch had begun to take over most of the land from the Africans leading to domination by these two groups with their superior weapons. Thousands of Africans died in the process of European colonization and exploitation through exhaustion, poverty and starvation. In 1899, the Afrikaaners (white Dutch South Africans) fought with the British for the right to rule over this land. Canadians even went there to join the British as a former colony of the U.K by fighting in the Boer War. With the victory going to England in 1902, they gained control over four provinces in South Africa and began to develop the land for their own benefit. Profit for companies did not reach the African peoples and were instead given very minimal amount of money for hard labour especially in the mines. Under the British in South Africa, most land was given to Europeans causing black South Africans to suffer with an inability to be economically independent.
In 1948, the Afrikaaners won the election for the first time and proceeded to increase the racist attitudes and practises of the British by instituting racist laws. The goals of the laws were to separate all racial groups which were strictly defined by the new government as: African (black), European (white), Asian, Coloured (mixed). For each racial group, everyone’s life was determined by their skin colour in the areas of places to live, education, health care, recreational facilities and jobs. This set of laws is known as apartheid which means in Afrikaans, “apartness”- to keep everyone apart. By doing so, they were able to keep the majority black population under white control (10% of the population) with the use of a brutal police force and not respecting basic human rights including:
-keeping black people in the lowest paying jobs with the least amount of education;
-providing a very low amount of money for each black student compared to white students (with Asians and Coloureds being close to that of the black schools) (Bantu Education Act);
-giving much less money to black hospitals than white hospitals;
-not allowing black people to make full use of recreational facilities while whites have easy access (Separate Amenities Act);
-not allowing other racial groups to marry a white person; (Mixed Marriages Act)
-black people had to live in poor, overcrowded areas in spite of their ability to take on skilled jobs and potentially make enough money to live in nicer areas but instead were put in black townships or homelands (Group Areas Act)
-black people were not allowed to be in a white area after 6pm without a work permit and had to always carry a passbook to show the police on demand or be arrested
-only white people could vote for the government except for local elections which were largely controlled by the national government
With these new laws, it caused the quality and fairness of life to be much lower for each group at the hands of the white minority government. Under the leadership of the first black lawyer of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, he tried to negotiate with the government to get a better deal for black South Africans. As one of the leaders of the African National Congress, a multi-racial political group, he used peaceful negotiation to try and achieve their goals. This was the main opposition group to fight apartheid. They proposed to the government that they accept their suggestions to eliminate apartheid by writing up a constitution known as the Freedom Charter in 1955. It was rejected and the government saw its authors as a threat and had many of them including Mandela to be arrested for treason but they were let go. The next series of events were the catalyst that dramatically changed the political landscape of South Africa for the rest of the apartheid period.
- Catalyst- Describe the event or events that caused this society to organize, fight, protest, change or revolt against the government. Describe the individuals and groups involved in the dispute with the pre-existing government. What steps did they take to change the previous government or political system? Was violence used to achieve their goals? Give details about what happened that changed this country for the rest of its time. 1 page
The first event which changed the whole approach of the ANC towards the white minority government occurred in March 1960 in a black township called Sharpeville. Residents there with the guidance of a group called the Pan African Congress (PAC), organized a protest in front of the police station to protest the unfair pass laws by throwing their passes into the fire, similar to how Gandhi had done decades earlier in South Africa. They were ready to be peacefully arrested but instead the police came out and began to shoot the people and killed 70 protesters, mostly in their backs. This became known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it convinced the ANC, the main group opposing the government that violence had to meet violence. They renounced negotiations and started an armed conflict with the government. Mandela became the leader of this armed wing and began the process of training ANC members to directly and physically fight the government with guns and bombs, trying to destroy any government property or to kill soldiers. This violent approach eventually led Mandela to get arrested for acts of treason and was sentenced to death in 1963. However due to the fear that too many people would start to fight with the government even further, they reduced the sentence to life in prison. All the leaders of the ANC were put in jail for life on the worst prison on Robbens Island, which like Alcatraz there was no hope for escape. Black South Africans were now without strong leadership to lead them against the government at a time when the government became even less reasonable.
In the 1970’s, one inspirational activist appeared in the name of Steven Biko. He encouraged a way of thinking known as Black Consciousness by telling black South Africans that they must not look down on themselves in spite of the challenges they face. They should be proud of their history and accomplishments and to also not depend on white South Africans who may want to help since the solutions against apartheid must come from black South Africans since only they can know what it is like to be black during apartheid. Sadly his words were so encouraging as he gained many followers that the government felt he was a threat and banned him. Once he was caught breaking the ban in 1977 he was arrested and quickly killed by the police within the prison. The government tried to claim he killed himself but there was proof that this was not true.
The year before Biko was killed and perhaps due to his words of encouragement the second major massacre occurred on June 16, 1976. This was called the Soweto massacre when thousands of students were protesting against unfair rules that they had to learn all subjects in Afrikaans and the police opened fire against them. Approximately 700 students were killed by the government who had no weapons. The rest of the world at the time were shocked by the actions of the South African government so many countries imposed economic sanctions by no longer accepting trade with South Africa to put pressure on the government to get rid of apartheid. Canada was a leader for many years in calling upon other countries to stop trading with South Africa but England and the U.S. refused to stop trading with them. There was increasing international pressure to protest against the government which had a severe effect on the economy of South Africa, making the lives of ordinary South Africans tougher than before. Many students also quit school and took up the fight against the government.
In the 1980’s there were constant physical battles between protesters and the government in the black townships to express their anger at the government. Anyone who helped the government were also attacked and killed. The government imposed an Emergency Act whereby any person could be imprisoned with no trial and summarily executed within prison. It created chaos for the country along with the economic sanctions so the president PW Botha decided to offer Mandela freedom from prison if he promised not to be involved with discussing freedom for the black people. Mandela refused and stayed in prison.
By 1989 a new leader was elected named FW De Klerk who was to become the last white leader of South Africa. De Klerk took steps to have Mandela and other ANC leaders released in 1990 which was unbelievable at the time. The world celebrated Mandela’s release after 27 years in jail and once out, Mandela spoke of reconciliation and reconstruction with the new government and began discussions to change the constitution to include the right for all South Africans to vote and be eligible for office.
3. Constitution- Explain how the constitution was made including the role of specific individuals and/or groups who helped to develop it, the challenges in making it and what were some of the disagreements in its creation. Describe four areas (clauses, amendments, statements) found in the constitution that describe the protection of people’s rights and explain how these four areas help to improve the lives of the people compared to the time before the constitution was made. 1 page
The process of creating a new constitution is normally a very long and detailed process so certainly in the case of South Africa it was a very complicated matter. There were not just simple changes to make but whole scale changes for the many different cultural and racial groups to be afforded protection and new rights. The discussions became known as CODESA I and CODESA II which included political groups from the far right to the far left, from violent groups such as the PAC (a black rights group) and the AWB (a neo-Nazi white rights group), conservative and liberal parties which were either all white, all black or a mix of both even if they were never able to be in elections.
The range of opinions on how a new South Africa should look for the future to be expressed in its new constitution was quite extensive. It was a show of wonder that enemies who previously had killed each other were now asked to sit together for discussions. The negotiations on how to correct some of the unfair racial imbalances for all groups could hardly be agreed upon by all parties. The two main parties were the National Party (the ruling white political party) and the ANC (the main party supported by most black South Africans) who worked out ways to protect minority rights, including white minority rights. These two former enemies were able to find some common ground and with two excellent negotiators on each side, they actually became friends eventually and the many years of conflict and tension was lessened thanks to the moderate way of thinking of the negotiators. At times the talks broke down out of disagreement and emotion but by the end of 1993, South Africa had progressed with a draft of a new constitution to give all groups equal rights and especially the right to vote for any leader. The long term goal of allowing equal political rights to non-white South Africans was a huge accomplishment after 350 years of European oppression, even long before national elections were a reality.
Under the model, it was already a foregone conclusion that Mandela would become the first black leader of South Africa thanks to the changes started by the last white leader elected by only white people, FW DeKlerk. For their part of being able to change the rules of government and to ensure human rights are protected for all people, DeKlerk and Mandela were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly. What had seemed impossible to achieve for so many years and generations of fighting had finally occurred with a new constitution giving the president one term of six years in power. Mandela was elected with just under a 2/3 majority preventing the ANC, the new ruling party from being able to change the constitution further with no other party present but it was very significant that now South Africans were able to feel free to live where they could, go to school where they could, to not fear walking down the street without a passbook or to be arrested for almost no reason at all with no trial and possible death at the hands of the police. South Africa’s new constitution and the election of Mandela in 1994 was a model for all countries in conflict to examine and learn from, unfortunately however at the previous cost of thousands of people killed in the process.
4. Change- Describe the government’s attempts to help the people (economically, politically) for the decades following the constitution. Did the constitution change most people’s lives in terms of their human rights? Is the government corrupt? Are there now fair elections? Is the media heavily controlled or persecuted? Are activists in danger of their lives? Are average people being denied basic necessities in life due to government action or inaction? Are there any specific examples of human rights abuses? Are NGO’s able to work freely within the country? Explain whether you think people’s lives changed for the better, the worse or about the same from the time before the constitution.
Development of Human Rights/Constitution Assignment: Philippines
- Context of the society- For a specific time period before the society changed, describe in 1 page what the human rights conditions were like for the people living there. Mention details such as the political, economic and social realities of the society. This can include who and how the country was colonized or ruled by the dictators, whether groups of people were treated fairly, violations of human rights, the fairness of the justice system and challenges for the people.
The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 tropical islands in southeast Asia, about 2 hours flight southeast of Hong Kong. It is unique in the region as it is the only dominately Christian Asian nation (85% Roman Catholic, 10% Muslim, 1% Buddhist) and the only one that was colonized by Spain, the U.S. and Japan. As a result of the colonization period by the Americans in the early 1900’s, English became widely spoken and is the country in Asia with the most American influence. The native people who lived here before the arrival of the first Spanish under the guidance of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 had settled here for thousands of years. The native Filipino became a mix of Malay, Arabian and Chinese before the Spaniards arrived. Ferdinand Magellan was killed by a native Filipino in the Battle of Lapu Lapu in 1521 but the Spaniards proceeded to set up this land as their colony for the next 377 years until they were defeated by the U.S. in the American-Spanish War of 1898.
With Spanish colonization came a violation of human rights throughout this time. On the one hand, the native people of the Philippines (so named after King Philippe of Spain) embraced the religion of the Spanish which explains why today they are mostly Catholic Christian but Malays were treated with disrespect by the Spaniards. Spaniards were the only ones to be in power with the assistance of a small number of chosen Filipinos who were part of the elite class. A number of Filipinos became Catholic priests but they were still treated with disdain or paternalistic attitudes by the Spanish. Throughout the colony’s history, Filipinos were like slaves to the Spanish by working in the different industries such as sugar cane farming and if they dared to protest against the government they were jailed, tortured and killed. In the mid 1800’s the government executed three Catholic priests for trying to encourage Filipinos to fight for their rights. The justice system was heavily in favour of the Spanish if a case involved them since the judges were from Spain. In 1896 Spain killed a popular leader named Jose Rizal who was trying to organize Filipinos to fight against Spain. His death only encouraged them more and by 1898 with the help of the U.S., the Spaniards admitted defeat and left for good.
This brought the period of American colonization as they claimed victory from the Filipinos by in turn controlling them as well. The Americans did use a lot of money to educate most Filipinos in English which has benefited them until today. However they also looked down on the Filipinos and didn’t feel they were ready for independence, another paternalistic way of thinking, disregarding the abilities of the people. The U.S. also tried to change the Filipinos culturally by encouraging more of American culture. The justice system was much more fair than it had been with the Spanish unless an American was involved in the crime itself. There were also American military bases set up to protect the Philippines in case of any attack.
In 1942 the Japanese made such an attack and were able to take over the country from the U.S. when they defeated the American and Filipino forces. For the next three years until the end of the war in 1945, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were killed by the Japanese and were made to bow down once more by their government. This included the infamous Death March in 1942 when the Japanese forced the American and Filipino soldiers captured to march in the extreme heat for 3 days without giving them water or food until many died. Thousands of civilians in Manila were also brutally killed during this time.
By the end of the war in 1946, the U.S. gave the Filipino people independence and they wrote up their own constitution with the influence of the Americans. The constitution closely resembled the American one so it started off with the same fairness of the U.S. system (though at that time there was no fairness for the African Americans who still had to fight for their rights even though they had a constitution in place for almost 200 years). The political system and subsequent judicial system was considered democratic. Elections took place but with some violence. However the first few presidents seemed to do their job very well and with integrity. Finally in 1965 a new era of politics and justice began with the election of Ferdinand Marcos.
2. Catalyst- Describe the event or events that caused this society to organize, fight, protest, change or revolt against the government. Describe the individuals and groups involved in the dispute with the pre-existing government. What steps did they take to change the previous government or political system? Was violence used to achieve their goals? Give details about what happened that changed this country for the rest of its time. 1 page
Ferdinand Marcos from the northern Philippines had once been accused of murdering a political opponent before he became president but the case was thrown out of court for a lack of evidence. His wife, Imelda, a former beauty queen was treated like royalty in Marcos’ first term. Many people regarded the two of them as the Kennedy’s of the Philippines and the U.S. government treated them as trusted allies since it was the height of the Cold War and Marcos was actively fighting against communist groups. He seemed to have helped the Philippines as leader by building roads, infrastructure, health care, education, and trade with other countries. However in 1969 during his second election campaign there were many reports of bribery and corruption. He won the election but more people began to distrust him and the population began to outgrow the rate of economic development. More Filipinos were poor than ever before after the prosperous years of the 1960’s.
With the increasing violence between the Philippine army and two separatists groups, New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Marcos took advantage of the situation by creating an atmosphere of political crisis. In 1971 there was a an incident that may have been planted by the government itself with the staged assassination attempt against the Secretary of Defense. There were also student protests and labour strikes. It was in this context that Marcos imposed martial law in September 1972 which included: a strict curfew at night, no groups could get together, opposition parties were outlawed and the government arrested 30 000 people (opposition politicians, journalists, critics and activists) without a charge including Benigno Aquino. Civil rights and the Philippine Congress (the democratic law making body) were suspended so Marcos could make laws as he wished. In 1973 he brought in a new constitution which extended his number of possible terms of office. He supported his closest friends to hold high positions in government including a brutal military leader and there were monopolies in industries so his friends and family could control the economy of the Philippines and it was they who benefited. For the next several years Ferdinand and Imelda flaunted their wealth by buying properties, jewelry and thousands of pairs of shoes. Mostly however they stole up to $13 billion which was hidden in Swiss bank accounts while the population became increasingly poor.
Benigno Aquino had been kept in prison for five years until 1977 without a trial until he was found guilty of subversion (treason) when he was sentenced to death. However since he became so well known as an opposition leader the government was careful not to execute him for fear of more opposition from the people. He was allowed to go to the US in 1980 for a heart operation in the hopes that his effective words against the government would be eliminated. However Marcos didn’t account for the fact that Aquino truly wanted to save the Filipino people from the strict unfair rules of martial law by continuing to inspire them through his writings.
In 1981 as a condition of Pope John Paul II to visit Manila, Marcos declared that martial law was over but in effect it was still dangerous to go against him and it was only a way to make it look as if he had changed martial law. There was an election in 1981 which the opposition parties boycotted so Marcos won another term in office. Finally in August 1983 Aquino had decided to return to the Philippines regardless of the danger he was in so he could fight Marcos politically as best he could. Upon his arrival on August 21, he was shot by a sniper just as he stepped down on the tarmac. A martyr was born with millions of Filipinos including his wife, Cory Aquino who attended his funeral and were very upset that Marcos army would do this. It was the beginning of People Power.
Cory Aquino spent the next few years travelling the country to bring out the anger of the Filipinos and hear their sorrow of life under Marcos. Especially in Manila and the southern provinces she was supported and gained many new followers. By early 1986 Marcos called a snap election with Cory as his main opposition. With the help of the Catholic Church and the anger of the people over the death of her husband, she was able to win the vote. However Marcos would not accept the results and sent the army to arrest Cory on the morning of February 24, 1986 but two prominent army leaders had already decided to defect from Marcos including Fidel Ramos, the future president between 1992-1998. As millions of people converged onto the main street in Manila called EDSA, one part of the army had been sent to attack the rebel leaders and Aquino but as they faced the millions of people the army realized they would end up killing some of their own friends and relatives so they too joined the rebels. It was truly a People Power revolution as common people showed how brave they were to face down the tanks with the possibility of being killed. Even though Marcos held a ceremony as new president, no countries except Russia would attend as they agreed that Aquino had won. The rebel army then allowed the US air force to pick up the Marcos family to be brought to Hawaii (along with more stolen money). The People Power Revolution was complete and extensive and now the real work began by making a new constitution and a new country for the people to succeed more than ever before.
16th Century to Pre WW1
Russia had always been a monarchy since Peter the Great. Monarchies were used to having most of the money of a country right up until the last monarch, Czar Nicholas. During his rule including the time of World War One people were mostly poor barely making enough money for their own survival. The war only made this worse when the soldiers were not getting paid much and many starved or froze to death. Russia lost more people in the war than any other country. This frustration led to Russia to quit the war in 1917 while the people were in rebellion against the Czar (Russian word for King). Their rights were also not respected since the Kings’ own soldiers could arrest or kill anyone they wanted and often did. There were never any elections or rights for the people. By 1917 the people started to rebel and Czar Nicholas, his wife and daughters were killed by the people to get rid of this oppressive type of government.
The man known as Vladimir Lenin (no relation to John) lead the people in rebellion against the Czar with a new type of government known as communism. This economic and political system became one of the major reasons why men fought in the 20th century across the world especially during the Cold War. Communism has the following characteristics: 1. the central government plans for the whole country the economic activities based on what they think the country needs for resources and in terms of jobs; 2. everyone is paid equally regardless of the job; 3. no one is allowed to have their own private business; 4. there are no choices about which job you will get since the government plans this out carefully; 5. if any worker or person refuses to do the job they will be sent to a hard labour camp called a Gulag where they often die from starvation, disease, cold or overwork; 6. There is no freedom of speech, or movement, or religion or right to marry who you want; 7. The new government is the new absolute ruler; 8. The main goal is that everyone is equal with no poverty but in reality the government officials often gave themselves more than the rest of the people and there was a lot of poverty.
In 1917 the first Russian Revolution occurred when Lenin introduced and fought for communism to begin in Russia. He ruled from 1917 until his death in 1924. The new leader was Josef Stalin who became another brutal dicatator in the world making sure that no one can ever question him so up to approximately 50 million Russians died during this years in power including WW2. He set up the gulags and would only listen to himself. Anyone who tried to gain power was killed by his special forces. He was the ally of the US, Canada, France and England during the war.
At the end of WW2, Russia took control of East Germany and East Berlin and had a major influence over other communist countries in eastern Europe such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia. If a group of people in those countries ever tried to protest against communism or if their government started to give people more rights, the Russian government or better known as the Soviet government would send in their own army to make sure all of eastern Europe was in line with communism. There was no chance for people to protest in any way without getting arrested or killed so communism lasted a long time and peoples rights were affected from 1917 until 1991. The Cold War continued until the ending of communism (see more notes on the Cold War for Germany)
After Stalin, the Russian leaders were somewhat better but still very strict compared to a democracy where people are free to say what they feel, they can vote for a leader, they can move where they want, believe what they want, not worry about fear or oppression (if it is a true democracy). By the 1970’s and the Cold War was still on, the US and Russia began to have talks but soon after the two presidents who started to warm things up left the scene (Nixon of the US had to resign while Brezhnev died) and the next two leaders of Russia were conservative old men who didn’t want to talk to the US.
Finally when a new leader emerged named Mikael Gorbachev for Russia in 1988, people’s rights started to be better respected. He allowed for open discussion with the people to know what their problems were and you didn’t have to fear being put in jail for this. More people started to criticize the government. Secondly he started to allow people to have their own small business which is not allowed in communism. This also made people to start changing their right to free enterprise, little by little. With this new openness, the people of the other communist countries started to protest more in 1989 to have their own governments change from communism to capitalism (the ability for any individual to have their own private business to try and earn more money based on competition with other businesses).
Finally in 1989 with meetings between Gorbachev and the US President Ronald Reagan, other countries became less strict and more East Germans managed to leave the country through Hungary which finally pressured the E. German government to let East Berliners go over the wall and effectively get rid of the wall. It was the ending of the Cold War with most people now free to go anywhere and become capitalist as well. In 1991, a number of soldiers kidnapped Gorbachev because they didn’t want to give up communism and while he was gone a new leader named Boris Yeltsin took over who promoted democracy, got the release of Gorbachev and declared that Russia would have elections and capitalism in full. This overturn of power became the second Russian Revolution.
Since the time of the ending of the Cold War, the downfall of communism in most countries since Russia was its main supporter, Russia went on to quickly become a democracy and capitalist. However the changes were too quick and many people didn’t have a job in 1992 since the government no longer organized this for everyone, there was a shortage of food at times and the rich kept getting richer and more powerful. After Boris Yeltsin, a strong leader emerged named Vladimir Putin who has been in power in Russia since the mid 1990s and uses his army to again ensure no one goes against him. Peoples lives are much better than under communism but it is also dangerous, the constitution has been rewritten by Putin’s supporters to enable him to stay in power for another 10-15 years and anyone who goes against him can also be killed. People’s rights are once again not being respected as a real democracy. The Russian mafia control most businesses and there is a lot of racism and crime in the country as well.
1914-1918- World War One broke out and continued after Germany attacked Belgium and France and millions of soldiers died across Europe. After the war was over the Treaty of Versailles was signed by Germany which included taking territory away from Germany to form the countries of Czechoslovakia and Poland and the payment of billions of dollars to England and France. This left Germany broke which made it easier for Adolph Hitler to eventually get elected in 1933 as he used the Treaty as a base of anger along with his hatred of Jewish Germans since he said to the people that they caused the loss of WW1 and were the only rich people left.
The 1930s and into WW2 saw the extreme violation of rights against Jewish, handicapped, homosexuals, and gypsies when they were first stripped of their rights to be in different professions such as lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers, followed by being banned in different places throughout the country. They were arrested for no charge at all or for anyone who spoke out against Hitler. Jews were especially targeted and started to be killed by the Nazi army even before the war started. Once WW2 did begin, the govt rounded up Jews to put them either in a labour camp for those who could work or a concentration camp to be left to die. At first many died from starvation but by the end of the war the Germans were killing Jews and others by directly gassing them in the camps and killing the maximum number of people that they could. It is infamously known as the Holocaust with an estimated 6 million civilians who were killed throughout Europe where Germans were in control. It only ended with the ending of the war in May 1945. There was also mass rapes that took place against Russians from 1944-45 with an estimated 2 million having been raped. Millions of people were affected by the war around the world and peoples rights were violated throughout.
Post WW2- The Cold War
With the ending of the war, the victorious major powers of England, France, the U.S. and Russia divided Germany into 4 zones to be occupied and managed. The capital of Germany, Berlin also was split between the Allies and the Soviets in the same way the whole of Germany was. This meant that East Germany came under communist Russian control where the people s rights were once again not respected under communism. This part is known as East Germany. Those who lived within East Germany had to always follow government directives for what their job would be, where they could live and what they could say. They were not free to express themselves from the beginning of the Cold War in 1946 until 1991 when it ended with the second Russian Revolution and the ending of communism. Many people tried to cross into West Germany (where your teacher was born) to escape communism and be able to have more control in their lives however if they were caught trying to escape they would be arrested or shot to death. Thousands tried and were killed.
Even though Berlin is located inside East Germany the west part of Berlin were again controlled by France, England and the US so ¾ of the city was free to say what they wanted, go where they wanted and have the job they wanted so there were many East Berliners trying to get into West Berlin which was easier in the 1950s until they built the Berlin wall. Once it was built it only gave some even more reason to want to get to the other side but they too were often caught, arrested or killed. The Cold War consisted of an ideological conflict between the two superpowers of the US and the USSR with a nuclear arms race and included some hot wars in other countries where the superpowers did support one side to fight against the other side, causing millions of deaths in Vietnam, Korea, central America, southern Africa, South America, the Philippines, Afghanistan and others. It consisted of calm cycles and tense cycles that could have led to a nuclear world war if things had gone badly. By 1961 3.5 million Germans left for West Germany, 20% of East Germany's population was gone. There were around 5000 successful escape attempts to go over the wall to West Germany -Over 200 of these attempts resulted in deaths.
With the election of Mikael Gorbachev in Russia in 1988 as leader the overall atmosphere in eastern Europe became much more positive and less dangerous including East Germany. The leaders of the U.S., Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev began talks to try and stop the tension and ideological war that had taken place during the Cold War. In 1989 East Germans began a series of peaceful protests against the government known as Monday Demonstrations as East Germans marched around carrying signs chanting "We are the people" as a reminder that East Germany was supposed to be a democratic republic. Shoot to kill orders were given and Stasi agents attempted to spark violence in the protest. There were some arrests but no violence and a massacre was avoided despite the fact that a shoot to kill order was placed -East Germans eventually found a new way to defect to West Germany when Hungary disabled its borders and over 13,000 Germans escaped for West Germany. After about a month of protests the leader of East Germany Egon Krenz gave the order to allow Germans to cross the Berlin wall and German borders on November 9, 1989. It was the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It showed that no matter how long one tries to keep people oppressed they will never stop trying even after more killing. It proves that democracy is the main desire of most people in the world except of course for communist governments. East and West Germany reunified on October 3, 1990 showing the success of peoples protests as a way of changing a government that does not respect peoples rights.
Constitution and Change Today
With the reunification of Germany, the two sides needed to come together and plan how a new government would work in the new capital city of Bonn which later switched back to Berlin (minus the wall). There were many details that were worked out over the next several years which gave the former East Germans a new sense of pride and openness compared to what it had been for so many decades and the country has prospered to become the richest European country since reunification. Perhaps no group of people will work harder than those who never knew freedom for their whole lives and one day they were given the freedom to do many new things and enjoy life.