After two decades of civil war, South Sudan seceded from the north to became its own country on July 9, 2011. While this is a victory and hope remain high, there is still much unrest between the two countries. TakePart's Allan MacDonell details the current political situation in this article—Sudan's Growing Pains.
(Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
New York Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
On June 24, 2011, New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, told the Associated Press, "New York sends the message that marriage equality across the country is a question of 'when,' not 'if.'"
(Photo: Getty Images)
Arab Spring Inspires Hope
Over the last year, a string of democratic uprisings has erupted across the Middle East and in North Africa. The revolution began in Tunisia in December 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in act of protest. Nearly a year later, in October of 2011, Tunisians turned out in huge numbers for the country's first free election. Mohamed Bouazizi's mother is pictured after casting her ballot at a polling station.
Over the last year, the movement has spread across the Arab world to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and several other countries.
(Photo: Jamal Saidi/Reuters)
American Hikers Released From Prison in Iran
After spending more than two years imprisoned in Iran, American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released on September 21, 2011. Josh and Shane, along with Sarah Shroud—released from prison in 2010—were hiking in Iraq and charged with espionage and illegal entry into Iran. Supporters across the country banned together with the hikers' families and fought tirelessly for their release.
(Photo: Jumana El-Heloueh/Reuters)
The Occupy Movement
On September 17, 2011, the first tent was pitched in New York City’s Zuccotti Park. Since then, the Occupy movement has spread like wildfire, igniting a national conversation about unemployment, greed, income and economic inequality. While the outcome is still unclear, many Americans across the country are speaking up and sharing their beliefs about our current economic situation.
(Photo: Stephen Lam/Reuters)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Officially Ends
On September 20, 2011, Americans finally said goodbye to Don't Ask, Don't Tell—the law that bans gay servicemembers from serving openly in the military. The repeal has been a long time coming and was a major milestone for gay rights advocates.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Famed Artist Ai Weiwei Released From Detention
On July 22, 2011, after two and a half months of detention and an international outcry, famed artist Ai Weiwei was released on bail from a Chinese prison. Weiwei has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's repression and human rights record, and his family has long claimed that his arrest was an attempt by the authorities to silence his activism. Although Weiwei is out of prison, he is in the midst of battling a 2.4 million dollar fine for tax evasion that many believe to be just another form of harassment.
(Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Nepal is Landmine-Free
On June 14, 2011, the United Nations announced that the work of clearing out Nepal's landmines has been completed. Thousands of the anti-personnel devices had been planted by the Nepalese military to battle Maoist rebels during a 10-year insurgency that began in 1996.
(Photo: Tim Wimborne/Reuters)
Aung San Suu Kyi Returns to Politics
During Hillary Clinton's historical visit to Myanmar on December 2, 2011, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke about political reform and freedom. She stated: "If we move forward together I am confident there will be no turning back on the road to democracy." Suu Kyi has spent most of the last two decades under house arrest and was released last year.
On December 13, 2011, with support from the people of Myanmar and the international community, Aung San Suu Kyi's political party was given the go ahead to formally return to politics. The National League for Democracy (NLD) will register for a by-election this year.
(Photo: POOL New/Reuters)
Three Brave Women Win The Nobel Peace Prize
In 2011, Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded to three brave and influencial women for their fight against injustice, dictatorship and sexual violence. The women are Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee (C), Yemeni human rights activist Tawakul Karman (R) and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
When they accepted their award on December 11, 2011, in Oslo, they called on all women to stand up and fight for their rights. "My sisters, my daughters, my friends—find your voice," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said. Before this year, the Nobel Peace Prize had only been given to 12 women in the last 112 years.