Mu Sochua fled Cambodia during the genocide under Pol Pot in the 1970’s. When she returned to her homeland in 1989 as a mother of three, Sochua began a tireless effort to further women’s rights in Cambodia. At the start of her political career she served as Advisor of Women’s Affairs to the Prime Minister, and from 1998 to 2004 was elected to Parliament and also served as Minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs. In 2004, Sochua changed directions slightly by joining the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), the leading political opposition in Cambodia.
After World War II, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie took pains to ‘modernize’ Ethiopia and bolster higher education. Selassie’s control of Ethiopia was total. As ‘supreme ruler,’ he abolished all political parties and banned groups from forming cohesive organizations. Selassie was surrounded by a small group of social elites that supported him, and although the government had a Parliament, it wielded very little power. Well into the 1950’s, Ethiopia lagged behind other African nations in education and many of the social elites sent their children overseas for higher education.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
Egyptian workers strike and occupy textile factory for better pay, representation, and conditions, 2007
Misr Spinning and Weaving Company is the largest public sector Egyptian textile company, employing 27,000 workers in the mid-2000s. The company is located in the Nile Delta town Mahalla al-Kubra and had a history of workers protests, the most significant of which occurred in December 2006 when about 20,000 of the company’s employees struck (see "Egyptian textile workers strike for bonuses and prrotest corruption, 2006").
Egypt became a British protectorate on December 14, 1914. During World War I agitation towards the British increased as all sects of the population united in their discontent. British rule caused Egypt’s involvement in the war to increase – 1.5 million Egyptians were conscripted in the Labour Corps and much of the country’s infrastructure was seized for the army – contributing to the dissatisfaction.
In the wake of economic depression in 1893, George Pullman, Illinois businessman and inventor of the sleeping railway car, sought to cut costs in his company town outside of Chicago. Mr. Pullman fired approximately one third of his workers, and reduced remaining wages by over 25 percent. He refused to decrease housing and food prices in the town.
Madagascar gained its independence from French colonialism in 1960 after nearly 70 years under French rule. Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka was sworn into office on December 21, 1975, after a military coup ousted president Philibert Tsiranana, who had been in office since 1959. In his first term as president, Ratsiraka nationalized Madagascar’s banks, insurance companies and mineral resources, following a socialist model that was wrought with censorship and government repression. By the late 1980’s Ratsiraka’s socialist regime had impoverished Madagascar.
In 1957 A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin initiated a campaign to pressure the U.S. government to intervene for the civil rights of African Americans.
Randolph, 68, was the acknowledged “elder” among civil rights leaders, with a base in the labor movement. Rustin, 57, was a veteran civil rights and peace activist who had coached Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
Kefaya (meaning ‘Enough’ in Arabic), is the moniker for the grassroots coalition the Egyptian Movement for Change. Beginning in 2003, Kefaya was a group of Egyptians of various political parties and ideologies that first met to discuss the Egyptian political scene. The group became official after affiliated Egyptian intellectuals and political activists created and signed a petition demanding fair and transparent democratic presidential elections with multiple candidates in August 2004; the petition became Kefaya’s founding declaration.
The history of Israel-Palestine relations since 1987 can be marked by a series of Palestinian uprisings against Israeli occupation (for more information see the BBC’s timeline of the First Intifada and its causes- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/israel_at_50/history/82302.stm). In 2002, the Israeli government began construction of a wall to separate Israel from the West Bank territories. The government justified the barrier as a necessary security measure to shield communities from terrorist threats.
Editor's Note: We recognize that the inclusion of this case in a database of nonviolent action may be controversial because of the campaigner violence at certain points during the campaign. However, we have concluded that the campaigner violence was minimal under the circumstances. We also believe that the inclusion of this largely nonviolent campaign will offer strategic lessons on the use of nonviolence in similar struggles. Many prisoners campaigns in this database have been focused around the method of the hunger strike.
In the late 1980’s, Poland was nearing the end of almost 40 years of postwar communism as part of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Out of labor organizing earlier in the decade emerged Solidarność (Solidarity), the first non-communist party-controlled trade union federation in a Warsaw Pact country (see Polish workers general strike for economic rights, 1980). Shortly after the rise of Solidarity, the organization expanded into a larger social movement, appealing for economic reforms, free elections, and increased political participation of trade unions.
Following a loss in World War I, Germany was charged to pay reparations for their destructive role. The bill was $33 billion. Germany had been weakened by the war and paying the reparations at the rate in which they were due would have completely crippled the country. Germany therefore tried to gain more time to pay. The Germans set forth a proposal for U.S banks to loan funds for the reparations and for France to reevaluate the reparations.
By the year 1988, political, social and economic life in Burma was under the repressive military rule of the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), headed by General Ne Win. Since the military coup in 1962, the Burmese had been subjected to extreme socioeconomic isolation and heavy state control that extended from the media and universities to social events and monasteries. Although citizens, and in particular students, protested throughout the 60’s, violent repression was enough to cease all opposition until 1987 when unrest began to stir once again within the Burmese population.
Agitation in Iran was visible by May 1977 in predominantly intellectual circles. A group of lawyers—upset by the government’s interference in the judiciary—drafted a strongly worded manifesto chronicling the legal abuses that had occurred under the Shah’s regime. Poets formed a Writers’ Association to call for an end to censorship and the activity of SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. A National Organization of University Teachers began fighting for academic freedom while university and seminary students called for academic freedom in the schools.
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo campaign for democracy and the return of their “disappeared” family members, 1977-1983
Following a coup that ousted then-acting President Isabel Perón from power, Argentina’s armed forces established a military government in 1976, a year that marked the beginning of Argentina’s “Dirty War” period. Headed by General Jorge Videla, the new military junta dissolved Argentina’s Supreme Court, congress, and provincial governments, and implemented a government program known as the “National Reorganization Process.” This program sought to rid Argentinean society of perceived government subversives, and effectively institutionalized state-sponsored terror. Through th
In 1938, El Salvadoran president General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez proposed changing the country’s constitution so that he could continue holding his position beyond the end of his second term.
On September 11, 1973, a military coup forced the democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende out of power. After the coup Augusto Pinochet established himself as the leader of Chile and set up a military dictatorship with the heavy involvement of his army. During this regime, Pinochet used repressive measures to suppress opposition to his rule, and supported politics that divided any opposition groups. Pinochet moved the country’s economic system away from socialist policies towards a market economy, gaining the support of the pro-capitalist portions of the
By the end of World War II, the Soviet Union had invaded and taken over much of Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party officially came to power in February 1948, and under its rule dissidents faced persecution by secret police, censorship was enforced, Marxist-Leninist ideology was proclaimed mandatory in schools, and all schools, media, and businesses became the possessions of the state.
The yearlong boycott of Montgomery, Alabama’s city buses by between 40,000 and 50,000 African American residents was in the works for years before it began in December 1955. At that time in Montgomery, as well as in many cities across the southern United States, laws required African Americans to sit at the back of buses and yield their seats to white passengers if no other seats were available.
A union presence among the 17,000 wool and silk factory workers in and around Passaic, NJ in late 1925 and early 1926 was almost nonexistent. The United Textile Workers (UTW), an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), had tried to organize the workers in the past but had had no success. The management of the mills used the fact that the workers were largely immigrants from many different countries to their advantage and suppressed union support.
The problem of illegal mahogany logging was focused in the Brazilian state of Pará, especially in what is termed the “Middle Land”, a plot of Federal public land composed in large part of undisturbed rainforest. Known as “green gold”, mahogany is the most valuable natural resource in this region of the Brazilian Amazon. While there have always been legal avenues by which to utilize this resource, the Brazilian government estimated that as of 2001, 80% of all exported mahogany was being logged illegally.
In the 20th century, Croatia existed in several different
incarnations. Until 1918, Croatia was part of Austria-Hungary, but with the
dissolution of the empire, Croatia instead cofounded Yugoslavia with other
Balkan states. However, like the Austria-Hungary Empire previously, this state
also fell apart with the end of World War II. For a brief time, Croatia existed
as an independent state. This period ended with the founding of the Second
Yugoslavia and the rise of communism. Croatia existed as this entity until 1991
In order to strengthen their hold on political and economic power, the white settlers of British-controlled Northern Rhodesia sought to unite the British colonial territories of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland during the late 1930s and 1940s. This was a response to the growing strength of African organizations (e.g.
On February 12, 1968, sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, began a labor strike to protest unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, and the city’s refusal to recognize their sanitation workers union.